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(Some spoilers) This movie was an attempt to duplicate the formula of the very successful "The Third Man" by Carol Reed. It certainly does not succeed at that. The story is less mysterious and compelling. The screenplay less rich, despite the hand of writer Graham Greene again. The zither music of Anton Karas is absent and the score by the great Nino Rota is not one of his best. The direction by Mario Soldati is much less capable. Venice is a great location but not used as evocatively as Vienna had been in the Reed film. Alida Valli, who was in the Reed film as well, is given a more one-dimensional role here.
Nevertheless, having said this, I can say that this British/Italian production is interesting enough, but only mildly so. The story concerns a young boy named Roger who is in Venice to find his father, Major Court, a British diplomat (Trevor Howard.) The man has been abducted by and held hostage by agents from the Eastern Bloc, from nearby Trieste in Yugoslavia. When daddy doesn't show up at the boy's hotel after a phone conversation, the boy is thunderstruck and during the rest of the movie enlists the help of various people to find his daddy. These include a hotel secretary Roberta (Alida Valli) and her friend Joe (Richard Basehart.) The boy is played in a one-note manner and a single facial expression by young Richard O'Sullivan.
The meanie villain, Dr. Vivaldi, played by Eduardo Ciannelli as a fatherly man who buys the kid ice cream, at first seems like a nice guy to the boy. Too bad the kid didn't recognize his own father when the police brought him into the apartment where the doctor, was holding the man, keeping him under drugged restraint while claiming to be treating him for his typhus. But then there would have been no more story.
Eventually the boy is able to convince the elders that the man he saw was indeed his father. There is some minor suspense at the end of it all when the police are able to board the ship in which Vivaldi is taking away Court and all comes to an expected happy conclusion. Director Mario Soldati has made films that are better and some that are worse.
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