The Fighting Wildcats (1957) Poster

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7/10
Whatever happened to Keefe Brasselle?
JohnHowardReid15 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Producers: Bill Luckwell and Derek Winn. Co-producer: Richard Gordon. U.S. release title: the Fighting Wildcats. A Winwell Production. Released in the U.S.A. through Republic Pictures. No New York opening. U.K. release through Astral Film Distributors: 18 August 1957. Australian release through Regent: 3 February 1961. 7,648 feet. 85 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: An American explosives expert, working in the Middle East, is employed by an arms trafficker to help in the assassination of an important Arab leader.

NOTES: Amalgamated Productions has signed Keefe Brasselle as star and director of "East of Suez" (sic). The film, which will mark the actor's first directorial effort, is set to roll this week at the Nettlefold Studios in London. (News item in The Film Daily, 29 October 1956).

COMMENT: At what stage Brasselle was replaced by Crabtree, I don't know. Certainly, the direction is more stylish than Happy Arthur's norm, and this fair degree of directorial finesse is one of the picture's major assets.

Another asset is undoubtedly Miss Geva Winn, whom at least one International Movie Data Base (at least at the time of writing my initial review) doesn't even bother to list in the cast at all. True, she does meet a calamitously early demise, whereupon her place in the hero's affections is taken, somewhat less satisfactorily, by Miss Kay Callard.

I must admit that I could also have gotten along quite well without Miss Ursula Howells, who is not only a totally unnecessary addendum to the cast, but as tedious as the Sahara itself.

For the rest, there's more than enough action to please the fans. Production values, under Crabtree's skilled guidance, rate as certainly serviceable. All told, the film adds up to an interesting and entertaining support feature.

OTHER VIEWS: Plenty of vigorous action, but the story has many weaknesses, whilst the characterization is thinly conventional. Mr. Brasselle makes an effective hero, versus Stepanek's suavely sinister German conspirator. Skillful camera-work shows off the Middle East backgrounds to good effect. — Monthly Film Bulletin.
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