Many good laughs, but some are at the expense of a serious subject
The most striking and memorable aspect of this film is its sharp, witty dialogue, much of which is in the form of sly insults thrown between the many characters of different nationalities. One exasperated guy even goes so far as to say, `She insults you; she insults me; she insults everyone like the big insulter she is!'
I'm glad to report that this ensemble delivers comic acting that is uniformly top-notch, in a wild plot that follows a bunch of folks staying in a Lisbon hotel as they all try to acquire a certain valuable object that is rumored to be in the vicinity.
A few of this film's jokes concern WW II Nazi aggression and their occupation of France. More than once I squirmed a bit upon witnessing such a deadly serious subject being treated so glibly, especially while it was still happening at the time this film was being made: the filmmakers couldn't yet have had any actual knowledge of the future outcome of such unnerving events. I guess they weren't afraid of tempting fate by laughing at it, although the British lady has a funny line that still might make you wince. These jokes are aimed squarely at the Nazi characters in the film; some are visual, as when the two Nazi art thieves are shown to resemble Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum, and some are merely implied, such as in the delivery of dialogue (they sometimes sound like robot-zombies delivering state-scripted speech.) Their rapid-fire tag team conversations are pretty entertaining, though.
The most enjoyable character of this crazy bunch is played by Anthony Holles as Tony Anzoni, an Italian `dealmaker' posing as an Englishman; he has most of the film's funniest lines, often mixing broken old cliches with modern mid-century slang. Nearly everyone here provides genuine laughs, except for the scary hotel porter, who was probably cast for his menacing teeth! (Note that the Ian Fleming that appears in this movie as `Adams' (one of the few characters without any funny dialogue) is not the same man who is famous for writing the James Bond novels. I saw his name in the opening credits, and I wondered about it the whole time until I looked him up in the IMDB. Anyway, his importance to the plot of this film is clear soon after he gets caught up in it.)
Fans of fast-moving, brightly-scripted caper farces will be well served by this entertaining British effort. Be sure and catch it if you get the chance!
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