The son of a German General becomes part of a mysterious conspiracy to gain hidden Nazi funds.
Directed by John Frankenheimer. With Michael Caine, Anthony Andrews, Victoria Tennant, Lilli Palmer.
I expected far better than this from Frankenheimer and Caine. I didn’t realize until after watching it that it was made in the mid 1980’s. It plays far more like a 70’s plot including the music and the cinematography. I’ve not read the Robert Ludlum novel, though I suspect as is the case for others in his canon that the book was far better than the film version, particularly for late 70’s/early 80’s material.
I watched this as a poorly cropped and overly letterboxed version on Amazon Prime, so the quality was certainly lacking from that perspective.
While there was a reasonable amount of suspense throughout, it’s not the directing that creates the ride, but really the liberally applied music which, while not great, was probably the best part of the experience. Those interested in what sound can do for a plot should study this piece.
In all, the plot was a muddy and convoluted and didn’t play itself out well at all. Tom Cruise’s first Mission Impossible was clearer. Frankenheimer had a few nice films, but it’s middling fare like this that squarely peg him as passable journeyman for most of his career.
Caine had one or two nice quips in the picture and was serviceable, but didn’t have quite the personality that shines through in many other pictures. The overall cast was great, they just weren’t given much in terms of plot or dialogue.
Some of the highlight quotes for me:
[Spotting a car tailing them]
Noel Holcroft: Probably just another Sunday driver. But on the other hand, as it is Tuesday, why don’t you put your foot on the gas and see what happens.
Noel Holcroft: May I suggest, that it is extremely difficult for a man, in a gray flannel suit, to behave naturally, while riding on a horse in the middle of the night, waiting for someone to shoot at you!
Leighton: Oh, dear, oh, dear. Assumption, Mr. Holcroft, is, as they say in my profession, the mother of fuck-up.
Leighton: Naughty, naughty, Mr. Holcroft. You mustn’t speak to strangers. Could be harmful to the health.
Leighton: There’s a lot of villainous characters lurking about. I’m glad to say that most of them are mine.
Noel Holcroft: I have a friend who lives in the country, and it’s supposed to be an hour from 42nd Street. A lie! The only thing that’s an hour from 42nd Street is 43rd Street!