Tonight's feature film, Sundown
NY Times said this on December 26, 1941 when it opened at the Loew's Criterion in Manhattan: Sundown (1941)
Walter Wanger, who takes the world's troubles very much to heart, is again trying to mix melodrama with a message in "Sundown" which sank yesterday at Loew's Criterion. It doesn't require Aristophanes to tell Mr. Wanger that it doesn't work. You can't try to give exalted overtones of meaning for our time to a slick magazine serial without making both sound rather ridiculous. And ridiculous is the word for his trumped up tale of intrigue among the African blacks, of stalwart English heroes who talk like sentimental Rupert Brookes as they die, and of a glamorously constructed African enchantress who turns out to be English and therefore quite marriageable after all. On this fustian, Mr. Wanger has tried to embroider the slogans of a new crusade. But it won't do, Mr. Wanger, not at all.
Perhaps if the producer had just listened to that inevitable tom-tom and concentrated on making a reasonably logical adventure crowded with sinister secret agents, wily natives preparing rebellion and the terrors of a couple of lone Englishmen in the wastes of the dark continent, all would have been well. In an atmosphere of honest hokum one might even accept Gene Tierney as a "woman of mystery" living amid the mud huts of the village in a silken splendor that only a Hollywood set could match. But when Mr. Wanger essays to discuss the importance of all this in terms of the geo-strategy of this war and at the end fastens a high-faluting speech by an English bishop on fighting the good fight, etc., the whole film becomes so much banal nonsense.
Although George Sanders is in it with, his rare British manners, Miss Tierney is also in it and her manners are quite indescribable—as an actress of world-wise glamour Miss Tierney continues to create a distinct impression of adolescent weltschmerz. Bruce Cabot, Reginald Gardiner and Joseph Calleia star as well.
SUNDOWN screen play by Barre Lyndon; from the magazine serial by Mr. Lyndon; directed by Henry Hathaway; produced by Walter Wanger and released through United Artists.