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The List of Adrian Messenger (1963)

 -  Crime | Mystery | Drama  -  29 May 1963 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 2,855 users  
Reviews: 45 user | 10 critic

Messenger asks a friend to check into a list of names before leaving on a trip. When his plane is blown out of the sky, the matter becomes more serious. As his friend checks into the list, ... See full summary »

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Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Anthony Gethryn
...
Lady Jocelyn Bruttenholm
Clive Brook ...
Marquis of Gleneyre
...
Mrs. Karoudjian
Herbert Marshall ...
Sir Wilfrid Lucas
Jacques Roux ...
Raoul Le Borg
John Merivale ...
Adrian Messenger
...
Max Karoudjian
Bernard Archard ...
Insp. Pike
...
Derek Bruttenholm (as Walter Anthony Huston)
...
Carstairs (as Roland Long)
...
George Brougham / Vicar Atlee / Mr. Pythian / Arthur Henderson
...
Cameo
...
Cameo
...
Cameo
Edit

Storyline

Messenger asks a friend to check into a list of names before leaving on a trip. When his plane is blown out of the sky, the matter becomes more serious. As his friend checks into the list, each seems to have died in mysterious circumstances. As he goes down the list, the deaths become more recent and a race to find the remaining survivors and what put each of them on this list ensues. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

5 Great Stars Challenge You to Guess the Disguised Roles they Play! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Mystery | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 May 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The List of Adrian Messenger  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Actor Jan Merlin reportedly played several of the alleged star cameos in the movie (including Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum); according to Merlin, the big-name actors never appeared in the film proper and only shot close-ups for an epilogue peeling off their heavy make-up. Merlin used his experiences as the basis of a thinly-veiled novel about the filming of the movie titled 'Shooting Montezuma'. See more »

Goofs

During many of the horse-riding close-ups, a wire (presumably some kind of safety device) can be seen behind the actors. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Karoudjian: During the war, my husband was... Swiss.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are handwritten, appearing as if cut out of the villain's notebook. Also during the credits, several faces of major and minor characters float by. The makeup worn by Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra and Robert Mitchum always manages to be on screen with each actors credit. See more »

Connections

Referenced in John Huston: The Man, the Movies, the Maverick (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

A Wand'ring Minstrel, I
from the operetta "The Mikado"
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Played by the orchestra as Tony Curtis removes his makeup
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Yes, Movies Were Total Cash-In Enterprises Back Then, Too.
14 February 2011 | by (Cincinnati, OH, United States) – See all my reviews

John Huston displays an indiscreet lack of subtlety, taxing our tolerance with a somewhat modern English whodunit with an extra publicity stunt: Numerous major Hollywood actors are announced to appear in the film, but are all thickly concealed in John Chambers' make-up design: Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis as an organ-grinder, Burt Lancaster as an old woman, Frank Sinatra as a gypsy horse-trader. Their identities are exposed to the audience at the very end of the film, when each star strips off his masquerade. Actually, only Douglas (by far the most interesting performance) and Mitchum do any real acting beneath their heaps of collodion and crepe hair. The others just walk on to shoot their brief, tacked-on unveilings at a salary of $75,000 each, while being doubled in the film itself. The film even further cheats by often dubbing their voices with that of voice-over actor Paul Frees!

The vehicle for this cash-in is a plot wherein the eponymous writer believes a succession of ostensibly isolated "accidental" deaths are really related murders. He asks his friend George C. Scott, just retired from MI5, to help resolve the obscurity, but Messenger's plane is sabotaged while he's on the way to gather data to corroborate his fears and, with his last lungful of air, he struggles to impart to a fellow passenger a crucial clue. What do you know, the passenger just so happens to be the sole survivor and…just so happens to be Scott's old WWII Resistance comrade. They collaborate to probe Messenger's inventory of names, and decipher his puzzling last gasps. Aside from the ones that insult us, more than a few story aspects in the film are akin to The Hound of the Baskervilles, like hounds, the intentions of the killer, the allusions to Canada, and the exposure of the killer using a hoax.

While we discover rather soon who the killer is, the obscurity of his intentions and the anticipation of his capture are enough to keep going, even if not gripped by genuine tension or suspense. Burdened with a rasping, implausible plot, maybe this lockstep adventure should've been set in Victorian times to oblige its villain with an infatuation with costumes, its Edwardian-style consulting sleuth in a bowler hat, and its foul play in a misty Thames Path.

There is something I quite liked, maybe because it took the edge off, made me relax and enjoy the kitsch. Before the haunting trumpet solos of Chinatown, the strange and threatening cues of Alien or the atmospheric strings of Basic Instinct, a comparatively green-horned Jerry Goldsmith shaped an evocative, and purely '60s-kitsch, ambiance out of an instrumental jumble incorporating saxophone, electric guitar, tuba, harp and the definitive eerie UFO-suggestive electronic whistle that creates nostalgic vibes as when we hear it in The Lost Weekend, Spellbound and BBC's Midsomer Murders.


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