|Index||3 reviews in total|
Tangiers is yet another one of those exotic locales that connote
mystery, romance, and adventure and at the point in time this film was
made was under an international administration. Two years later it
reverted to Spanish control as part of Spanish Morocco and now it is
part of Morocco itself. So the film was dated shortly after it's
With some background footage of Tangiers, Malaga was shot on location with interiors done in London. Maureen O'Hara was top billed in this one in a role that Jane Russell would have normally been cast in. Like Russell, O'Hara spends most of her time busting out of the tight fitting clothing that she has to wear. I'm sure the movie goers of 1954 didn't care about the plot.
Maureen is an American agent sent to Tangiers to find out who's running a smuggling operation and take it down. Since other agents have been killed no one other than who would now be called her controller knows who she is.
Maureen's troubles begin when the controller is killed by the bad guys in the first reel. So now she's working blind not knowing who to trust.
Oh well, the location photography in Malaga looks real nice and Maureen in those tight dresses in Technicolor is a treat. Beyond that I can't say too much. Macdonald Carey looks bored, he probably came for the free trip to the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Binnie Barnes has a nice turn as a wisecracking saloonkeeper.
But there's nothing special here.
Maureen Ohara (was Mrs. Miniver, also the queen of westerns and traveler to many foreign lands) as spy Joanna Dana. Always witty and lovely, she trades barbs with just about everyone she meets in her mission to break up the ring of pirates and smugglers in the Mediterranean. When one of her associates run into trouble, the only clue she has is a cigarette lighter. Along the way, she runs into casino/bar owner Frisco (Binnie Barnes), who gives her a job. Also look for Maureen's brother James as Danny Boy, who didn't make nearly as many films as Maureen. I kept thinking of the Wonderwoman TV show while watching this; everything seems to happen around Joanna, and given her slow reflexes, she would have been knocked off pretty quickly in real life. While some spies would keep a low profile, Joanna wears flashy dresses and lots of make up. Macdonald Carey, local boat owner (Van Logan) decides to give her a tour of the town. This film "Fire Over Africa" is also known as "Malaga" (for the town in Spain, where a lot of the action takes place.) Interesting scenery of Tangiers at the beginning, and also of Malaga, later in the film. Also interesting to note that the director Richard Sale had written the novel "Not too Narrow, Not too Deep", which was later made into "Strange Cargo" with C Gable and J Crawford.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Fire Over Africa" or "Malaga" is a film that I've wanting to get my hands on for a long time, mainly because of the unusual, for that time period, premise of a female government agent working undercover and (almost) alone. I finally managed to find a copy, but I was somewhat disappointed by the film. It's hardly what you'd call a feminist breakthrough - Maureen O'Hara's character doesn't really do much, nor does she seem to possess any extraordinary physical or mental skills; one judo flip and one chop to the neck in 82 minutes are not quite enough. In general, there is more talk than action, though some of the talk is reasonably snappy, and there are some mildly shocking moments of violence. Macdonald Carey is a rather uncharismatic male lead, and the big plot twist near the end is obvious. But the film does benefit from having been shot on location. ** out of 4.
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