An Austrian medical student living and working in France is hauled in by the police while on holiday in the south of the country. Accused of espionage he is sent back to his hotel to find out who might really be the spy. Not only his freedom but his chance of becoming a French citizen rests on what he can uncover, Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Looks like RKO had a British productions unit that would explain the non-American cast, and perhaps also why the unusual number of three directors was used on a black and white programmer. Some of the sets are impressive, especially the tower used in the final scene. Also, Frederick Valt impresses as the sinister Schimler, along with a sparkling Clare Hamilton who's a dead ringer for her sister Maureen O'Hara and apparently just as talented; yet, this is her only screen appearance and I'm curious why.
Nonetheless, in my little book, the movie disappoints, mainly because it's set up as a suspense film, yet doesn't really manage much suspense. We're introduced to each of ten suspects, one of which is a Nazi agent. Ordinarily, the narrative would develop each so that the audience could sort through them, thereby heightening the suspense. That doesn't happen here. Instead, much time is given over to two unnecessarily long scenes with the intelligence chief and repeated episodes with the pompous Duclos who's really more annoying than amusing. In fact, the narrative meanders to the extent few suspects are developed, and when the agent is revealed, it's done in highly unsuspenseful, pedestrian fashion. The various parts simply don't gel, and I suspect it's due not only to a muddled adaptation of the Ambler novel, but also to each director having his own preoccupations.
It's also a different James Mason. Not the dark, brooding presence he is so good at. Instead, he's rather sunny and serene, even in tight spots. Frankly, his performance here could have been equaled by a dozen lesser actors and leading men. The movie does have its moments, particularly the seaside setting with the moody resort hotel. That, plus the premise of ten suspects, had me thinking of the 1945 Rene Clair mystery classic And Then There Were None. Unfortunately, the result here likely demonstrates that old adage about too many cooks.
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