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A law-and-order thriller focusing on the international narcotics trade,
Interpol (aka Pickup Alley) harks back to such dire warnings as Port of New
York and To The Ends of the Earth.
It looks forward, too. Courtesy of co-producer Albert (Cubby) Broccoli, who
five years hence would issue the first film in the deathless 007 franchise,
Dr. No, this British-made movie serves as a brief, black-and-white preview
of the trans-global intrigues James Bond would soon be set to smashing.
The surly secret agent here is drug-enforcement officer Victor Mature, and his motives are not merely professional: Not only is his `kid sister' hopelessly hooked to the needle, but in the pre-credits opening scene, a female colleague ends up strangled with her own scarf by heroin kingpin Trevor Howard, an arch and urbane adversary who flourishes a cigarette holder, like Charles Grey's Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever. In pursuit, Mature jets from New York to London and thence to Lisbon, Rome, Athens, Naples and back to the States.
There's even an exotic Bondgirl (Anita Ekberg), shanghaied into working against her former boss, and an amusing local helpmate (Bonar Colleano) as an expatriate Yank peddling junk and souvenirs to tourists in the Eternal City. He first pops up before an excursion into the Catacombs, where death proves to be not always ancient. Similar set-pieces chases across rooftops and up and down steep streets enliven other ports of call.
But, like many of the Bond movies, Interpol comes at you in sections. We cool down from one diversion in anticipation of the next. But there's not much thought given to a determining plot-line or sustaining mood. And the major characters aren't given much in the way of, well, character; to make matters worse, they're barely allowed to interact. Most of what Interpol has to offer was already done earlier in the noir cycle (occasionally by Mature and even Howard), or would be done better in the splashier spectacles of the 1960s. And let's face it: Apart from her frolic in the fountain in La Dolce Vita, Ekberg would never amount to much of a fixture in film history.
This is quite an entertaining & energetic crime movie, which rattles along at a fairly brisk pace, but suffers somewhat from lack of character depth, and interaction between the characters. The leads all play their respective roles professionally and with a degree of panache, with the oily and sinister Trevor Howard particularly effective. Bonar Colleano also contributes a likable cameo as a fast-talking, quick-witted exiled American. In the central role, Victor Mature is dour and doesn't really get the opportunity to express more of his character's dual purpose of personal revenge and bringing an arch criminal to justice. Although there are many similar type films to this, I feel that it stands worthy comparison to many of them and is certainly deserving of release on DVD.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
****SPOILERS**** Having seen everything sleazy and destructive that
illegal drugs, like morphine and heroin, can do to people Bureau of
Narcotics Agent Charles Sturgis, Victor Mature, never expected that
doing his job would hit home like it did at the beginning of the film.
With Agent Sturgis finding his sister Helen, Dorothy Alison, strangled to death it turned out from clues found at the murder scene that her killer was the notorious, but faceless, international drug pusher Frank McNally, Trevor Howard. Helen was about to expose McNally to the police but he got to her first strangling Helen with her own scarf.
With him now determined to catch Helen's killer Sturgis starts to track the elusive drug dealer down in a world-wind pursuit that covers some five major cities, New York London Lisbon Rome & Athens, in both Europe and the USA. Meanwhile McNally plans to knock off his competition in the drug trafficking business his partner Salko, Alec Mango. McNally getting his personal squeeze the voluptuous Gina Borger, Anita Ekberg, to do the hit on Salko she messes up when Salko, seeing what a dish Gina is, loses control of his emotions and motor movements and ends up getting blasted.
It just happened that Salko's unexpected, as if she didn't see it coming, move on Gnia had distracted her aim, that prevented her from hitting a vital organ, in being able to kill the horny and uncontrollable hood. Salko seemed to have survived the shooting but without medical help, which his "good friend" McNally made sure he didn't get, his days on earth were numbered. Sturgis in London, where Salko was shot, now gets some clues to who Salko's attempted assassin is-through fingerprints left on the crime scene-Swedish blond bombshell Gina Broger!
Tracking down Gina who's now wanted by the London police, for shooting Salko, Sturgis ends up in Rome. It's there where Gina's to get the cash that's to cement a deal for her boss McNally in shipping a sealed refrigerator back to New York loaded with heroin. Things get a bit sticky for McNally when his henchman Guido, Marne Maitland,screws up when he's distracted by an excited tourist from murdering Sturgis, with a switchblade, in the ancient Roman Catacombs. It's then that Sturgis gets to meet local hawker, he'll sell you anything for a price, Amalio, Bonar Colleano, who in the end leads him straight to McNally and his gang of international drug traffickers.
The movie has the distinction of having three different titles at the time of its release besides "Pickup Alley":"Half Past Hell" "Interpol" and "The Most Wanted Woman". Victor Mature as narcotic agent Charles Sturgis had his hands full not only with the McNally gang but even the good guys in the film. Sturgis chasing McNally gets shot and wounded by a watchman, at the New York piers, who mistook him for a saboteur.
Anita Ekberg as Gina Broger was anything but convincing as McNally's woman in that she was always getting abused by him, like getting belted in the mouth, and still didn't have a mark on her. In fact you wondered why Gina, until she was blackmailed by him for shooting his partner Salko, would put up with a creep like McNally in the first place. McNally treated her like dirt making Gina do all his dirty work and paid her in peanuts for risking her neck for him.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A past-his-prime Victor Mature stars in this rarely seen thriller from director John Gilling. Originally released as Interpol in its native UK, the film was retitled for US consumers, who perhaps thought Interpol was a brand of toothpaste. "Get that great Interpol smile!" - I'm just guessing, but it sounds reasonable, right? Mature plays Charles Sturgis, a super secret agent out to break up the narcotics ring of evil dealer Frank McNally (Trevor Howard), who's placed a monkey on the back of Sturgis' sister and then strangled her. Our hero latches on to McNally's moll (Anita Ekberg), and he's soon hot on the villain's trail through the back alleys of Lisbon and Rome. An early effort from James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli, Pickup Alley travels from New York to Europe and back again, and features outstanding cinematography by Ted Moore, who would go on to shoot Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball. A superb supporting cast, including Sid James, Eric Pohlmann, Andre Morell, Bonar Colleano, and Marne Maitland make this essential viewing for British cinema enthusiasts.
This was an interesting film which starred Victor Mature, (Charles Sturgis) who was a US Narcotics Agent working with Interpol in order to catch a large dope smuggling operation. Gina Broger, (Anita Ekberg) played a young gal who was working with a big shot dope king, Frank McNally, (Trevor Howard) and was only working with him because he kept her against her will and would not let her go. There is plenty of travel into Lisbon, Greece and New York and it seemed at times that Charles Sturgis was running around in circles. Trevor Howard gave a great supporting role along with Anita Ekberg, but this film was definitely a low budget film and because this was a 1957 film, the gals all wore skirts down to their ankles.
Victor Mature stars in Pickup Alley as a drug enforcement officer who
has his professional and personal life combined in this film. His
sister Dorothy Alison is strangled by Trevor Howard who is a big drug
syndicate kingpin that everyone knows about, but who has successfully
kept a very low profile. All kinds of police agencies are looking for
Howard and now Mature has a personal reason to get him.
Thinking she killed Howard's partner his moll Anita Ekberg is also on the run. She might be the one to lead Mature to Howard so he tails her across several international cities back to New York where the climax takes place.
This idea had already been tried and far more successfully in the Dick Powell noir classic To The Ends Of The Earth where Powell was the drug enforcement agent with no personal axe to grind who follows a drug shipment. We get to see several glimpses of major cities in Europe and of course New York. Nothing that really registers a decent impression.
Pickup Alley was an OK second feature, but will never be a classic. Fans of Mature, Ekberg, and Howard will be satisfied. Best in the film in a small role is Bonar Colleano, exiled American gangster who lives by his wits both as souvenir salesman in Rome and peddler of information to those with a price.
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