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An expatriate American living in Madrid, former Air Force pilot Lloyd Tredman (Robert Taylor) is haunted by his memories of the Korean War and refuses to fly. So when he loses his last dollar on a horserace fixed by a smuggler, he forces himself to accept a $25,000 offer to transport a box of contraband currency from Egypt to Spain. But as Tredman makes the return flight home, he discovers his cargo also includes heroin as he races across the Mediterranean with Interpol hot on his trail. Costarring Academy Award winner* Dorothy Malone and Jack Lord (Hawaii Five-O), Tip on a Dead Jockey was adapted by Charles Lederer (Kiss of Death) from a short story by best-selling novelist Irwin Shaw. Originally intended for Orson Welles, it was directed instead by Richard Thorpe, the sixth of eight films he would make with Robert Taylor, which include the swashbuckling classics Ivanhoe (1952) and Knights of the Round Table (1953). Written by
Tip On A Dead Jockey is an average action/adventure film that finds Robert Taylor as an Air Force veteran settled in Spain after he thinks he's gotten a divorce from Dorothy Malone. He's a Korean War pilot group commander who ordered too many men to their deaths and is now just sick of flying. He's living in Madrid with house guest Marcel Dalio and his best friends are fellow Korean war pilot Jack Lord and his wife Gia Scala.
It turns out his divorce never went through with Malone so she follows him to Europe to see if she can get her man back. At the same time a rather oily Martin Gabel comes along with a proposition if he'll take a certain package from Cairo to Spain he can receive a handsome amount of cash, enough to clear up his mounting debts.
Taylor might need that money as a steeplechase race he had some heavy bets on was lost due to a spill that cost the jockey his life. It's only when Scala puts her foot down on Jack Lord making the run that Taylor does with Dalio along for company.
Tip On A Dead Jockey is a strangely introspective action film with Taylor just wanting to retire from life and wanting to leave Malone because he feels she's entitled to the man she married, not who he is now.
Dorothy Malone was fresh off an Oscar for Written on the Wind and she was at the height of her career. She's miles from the amoral nymphomaniac she got the Oscar for. But she's also far away from the good girl leading ladies she had played for a decade in any number of B films. Malone gives a good account of herself the woman not taking divorce for an answer.
Martin Gabel played mostly oily characters in his film career, so just his first appearance on the screen tells you he's up to no good. Hence there's no real suspense in Tip On A Dead Jockey.
Though he gets out of the bind Gabel puts him in, it's a strangely action-less conclusion to the film. Probably it's closer than to what most of us would do in the situation.
Tip On A Dead Jockey features some earnest performances by the cast, but the film is not on the best 10 list for any involved.
And we never do find out what happened to that jockey.
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