Shortly after the Cuban Revolution, Steve Daggett (Cameron Mitchell) comes to Havana. He’s searching for his friend, Hank Miller (Logan Field). An alcoholic, Hank has been missing for several days. When Steve arrives, he discovers that the local police are less than helpful. He is also reunited with his former girlfriend, Monica Gray (Allison Hayes), who also happens to be Hank’s estranged wife. Since separating from Hank, Monica has taken up with Fernando Ricardo (Eduardo Noriega), a wealthy land owner who, so far, has been spared from Castro’s revolution.
It doesn’t take long for Steve to discover that no one wants him to stay in Havana. When he goes to meet an informant on a pier, he’s instead assaulted by two men who order him to be on the next plane to Miami. When Steve refuses to leave, both his life and Monica’s are put in danger. Steve’s investigation eventually leads him to a plot to overthrow Fidel Castro and return Batista to power.
Pier 5, Havana is a low-budget, B-noir that is mostly interesting due to its historical context. The movie went into production a month after Castro took over Cuba and certain scenes were actually shot on location in Havana. Because it was a quick shoot meant to capitalize on current events, the movie was rushed into theaters before Castro officially allied his country with the Soviet Union. As a result, Pier 5, Havana is one of America’s few pro-Castro films. While the film doesn’t fully embrace Castro, it does present his new government as being preferable to return of Batista’s dictatorship.
As for the film itself, it’s a fairly standard mystery. Edward L. Cahn, who also directed Flesh and the Spur and Jet Attack, was a director who shot fast and in a workmanlike style. (Pier 5 Havana was one of seven films that he directed in 1959 alone.) Cameron Mitchell is surprisingly but effectively subdued as the two-fisted hero and he provides the hard-boiled narration as well. As always, Allison Hayes is an effective femme fatale.
Pier 5, Havana is a fast-paced B-movie with some good performances and some interesting footage of Havana right after the revolution.