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THE DEVIL'S AGENT (John Paddy Carstairs, 1962) **1/2

6/10
Author: MARIO GAUCI (marrod@melita.com) from Naxxar, Malta
19 July 2015

This was another low-budget Christopher Lee movie that I was totally unfamiliar with – in fact, I had initially mistaken it as merely an alternate title for the Edgar Wallace "Krimi" THE DEVIL'S DAFFODIL (1961; which I also recently acquired in tribute to his passing and which I will be getting to presently)!

That said, the result proved quite a surprise – not least for the remarkable cast its producers managed to hire: Peter Van Eyck in a rare and atypically heroic leading role; Macdonald Carey (who had just supplied the obligatory marquee value to Hammer's extraordinary THESE ARE THE DAMNED {shot 1961 but released 1963}), a one-armed Marius Goring, Walter Gotell, Albert Lieven (also from THE DEVIL'S DAFFODIL and who had himself assumed the central part for director Carstairs' SLEEPING CAR TO TRIESTE {1948}), Marianne Koch, Niall MacGinnis, Eric Pohlmann, Peter Vaughan and Billie Whitelaw. Incidentally, the IMDb claims that Peter Cushing was also involved but had his scenes deleted – however, I doubt this, since that same site also gives the running-time as 77 minutes…while my "Something Weird Video"(!) print clocks in at 97! As for Lee, though his role is fairly brief, it is the one that sets the protagonist on his globe-trotting doom-laden path.

Indeed, the film is an episodic Cold War thriller (the title, then, boasts no occult underpinning but merely refers to Van Eyck's precarious status within the narrative as a spy working both sides!) made before the subgenre's heyday, which kicked off around 1965; with this in mind, the plot line is predictably convoluted and decidedly short on action, yet the whole emerges a reasonably suspenseful outing just the same – complete with an unexpected downbeat 'curtain'. Interestingly, nominal leading lady Koch's best-known role was similarly a damsel-in-distress saved by a double-faced hero, albeit against a Wild West setting, i.e. Sergio Leone's seminal A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964)!

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On the Other Side of Hades

6/10
Author: The_Dying_Flutchman from The El Monte Legion Stadium
1 November 2012

This flick is a passable representation of what one can call an "economical espionager". Something like what Sean Connery's wayward son Jason might have made if he beat his dad to the punch. It was co-produced by any number of countries, but mostly friendly ones, after-all, it was the early 1960's. Directed by John Paddy Carstairs of British B movie fame who did films like George Sanders "The Saint in London" which was a rarity for the time because it was shot on location. Its all about a Viennese wine merchant becoming a double agent for the United States. The agent is ably played by German and/or Dutch actor Peter Van Eyck, I've never been able to tell what his true nationality was. He gets suckered into the profession by Russian brutes and in those years they were the biggest and baddest of the bads. The cast is good for the time and offered it some good scenery chewing. Macdonald Carey, Mr. Stone Face as usual, Christopher Lee, minus fangs, Billie Whitelaw, a sweetener for certain and Marius Goring doing a dance with numerous demons. "The Devil's Agent" holds up OK though its past is definitely passed.

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