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This very British film was a "B" picture given headlines because of the title song which was a massive hit in both the Uk and in the States.
Only read below if you want to know about The little red monkey.
The little red monkey was in fact a very very small/tiny adult russian spy who because of his size could enter small areas thought safe agains five foot plus size humans.
He was only called "The Midget" in the film and he was played by Leonard franks.
This was the basis of the movie.
If you ever get to watch this film, do not expect too much and you will not be disappionted.
The music is freely on line to download from various sites in the UK. Just type in "the little red monkey" into a search engine and up will pop lots of links.
For me, Conte makes the movie. The more I see his work, the better it
seems to me to be. He's not a razzle dazzle actor. He doesn't
over-emote or even seem to emote that much. But if you watch his eyes,
you will see his acting and emotion. He's always good in film noir,
like Mr. Brown in The Big Combo and the escaped criminal, Marty Rome,
in Cry of the City (and MANY others). Later generations know him as
Barzini in The Godfather. And so here he brightens up a British cast,
and so does his love interest Rona Anderson.
Nuclear scientists are being killed in England to prevent the West from nuclear progress. A Russian defector arrives and must be transported to America by Conte. But before that can happen, he and a British policeman must deflect and locate the nest of killers, who are quite clever in their work. Along the way there are sparks between Conte and Anderson.
At 70 minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome. Good little crime-spy story done up nicely as these 50s movies were usually done. This is before James Bond and before the more highly-budgeted and elaborate spy movies like The Man Who Came in From the Cold or The Ipcress File or The Deadly Affair. This movie is a modest affair and enjoyable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
LITTLE RED MONKEY 1955
Someone is bumping off nuclear scientists in the UK, and the Reds are of course the prime suspects. Reports of witnesses at the scenes report seeing a small monkey of all things. The Police and MI-5 write this off to bad eyesight or a bit much to drink.
A defecting Soviet atomic scientist, Albert Marle, is whisked out of East Berlin and hidden in a hotel in London under Police guard. US agent Richard Conte arrives to protect Marle on his next stage of his flight to the US. Bad weather delays the flight for 24 hours.
Conte decides that a spot of sightseeing with hotel clerk, Rona Anderson is in order. Anderson is the niece of MI-5 type, Russell Napier, who is in charge of security. A few drinks and a pleasant walk through the park with Anderson, is soon arranged.
The Reds of course have been busy as beavers trying to discover the location of the defector, Marle. They plan on giving him a going away gift of a bullet or two in the back of the head. The two chief Red types, Bernard Rebel (complete with that all telling commie goatee) and Sylva Langova plot their next move.
While all this is going on, newspaperman, Colin Gordon, is starting to be a royal pain in the rear to the government types. He has published that the government has a defector hidden somewhere in London. The Reds decide to use the man for their own cause and feed him some info to publish. They hope that the Secret Service bunch will get upset and give away the hiding place.
The Reds do get a clue and go for a hit but end up killing a plainclothes Police officer instead. Conte and MI-5 man, Napier, decide to use the death as cover and announce that defector Marle was killed. They then move the man to another location till the weather clears and they can fly out.
The ploy with the dead copper however fails. The Reds kidnap Conte and Miss Anderson when they step out for a drink. They whisk them to a secret hideout for a spot of light chatting. This involves a large Red with anti-social behaviour problems, soundly beating Conte around the face and body. The Eastern Bloc types are hoping Conte will talk. After a half hour or so, and no luck on the violence front, they decide to change tact. They blindfold Conte and drive him off and dump him on the street with a message. Turn over the defector or the girl, Anderson, will die a most gruesome death.
Needless to say the government has no intention of making the swap. Conte, after a few quick repairs from a doctor, straps on his holster and gun. He wants a bit of pay back. He first visits newsman Gordon for a talk. He soon convinces Gordon to help. He has a possible lead as to where the Reds might be.
They hit the place and are soon embroiled in a full blown gun battle with the Commies. Newsman Gordon goes down in a hail of lead as do a few of the Reds. Conte manages to free Miss Anderson just as MI-5 and the Police come bursting through the doors.
They then rush to where the defector Marle is hidden. They do the nick of time thing again and dispose of a Soviet midget assassin. Yes a midget. Conte is now rushed to the airport with defector Marle to catch the US Air Force flight to Washington. Conte and Anderson blow kisses at each other as he leaves.
Not bad at all for a lower end budgeted spy thriller. The film was directed by veteran UK noir man, Ken Hughes. Writer, producer and director Hughes' work includes, WIDE BOY, BLACK 13, THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE, CONFESSION, JOE MACBETH, WICKED AS THEY COME, THE LONG HAUL, THE SMALL WORLD OF SAMMY LEE. He also helmed the big budget features, CROMWELL and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.
This is a mid-fifties British B picture (aka LITTLE RED MONKEY, the original title, which is on the DVD) for which they brought in the American Richard Conte as a visiting FBI agent, to fetch a Russian scientist defector to America. The script was co-written by Ken Hughes (1922-2001), who also directed it, and whom I knew rather well. Ken was never a highbrow when it came to literature, though his taste in art was good because of his obsession with the paintings of Delvaux, of which he had a gigantic example on his wall above his sofa. (It is now in a national museum somewhere.) I must say, Richard Conte makes just about the least sentimental lover in the history of the cinema. The way he treats the girl who falls in love with him is so rude and inconsiderate that one wonders about his orientation. Never mind. The British police and secret service bungle spectacularly throughout this tale, making mistake after mistake, taking no basic safety or security precautions, and the attempt to look after a major defector is portrayed as an utter farce. A bit too close to real life. It reminds me of the dealings between MI6 and Gaddafi. What is there about the word 'incompetence' that the British security experts do not understand? They presumably have their noses buried too deep in dodgy dossiers, of which there has been a spectacular example recently, something to do with the number 70,000. Hahaha. Well here they go again in this film, letting everybody get killed, with the almost equally hapless Yank finally saving them, more or less by chance. The monkey of the title really exists and climbs up buildings and opens windows for entry by humans to commit dastardly deeds. There are other elements revealed at the end which I shall duly keep top secret, something which no one in the film seems to know the meaning of.
The Burgess, Maclean and Philby spy drama of the early 1950s inspired
Merton Park Studios to produce this cold war'B' drama about a midget
Russian spy who controls a red monkey and who with his spy colleagues
go about bumping off nuclear scientists in Britain.Actor Russell Napier
is upgraded from his Scotland Yard inspector role which he performed in
the acclaimed Edgar Lustgarten 1950s TV crime series.
Another user review above has written a detailed synopsis of the plot so I won't repeat it.There is a very catchy tune "The Little Red Monkey" played on the organ which was popular at the time and which accompanies this film.Rhona Anderson who plays Russell Napier's niece threw herself I thought too willingly at Richard Conte, the American State Department agent who is helping British security to transport Livchenko to the U.S.to gain political asylum along with his nuclear secrets.At about one hour duration this 'B' movie keeps the attention of the viewer and I awarded it 6/10.
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