5.6/10
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5 user 1 critic

Fanfare for a Death Scene (1964)

| Drama | TV Movie
An American secret agent, on the trail of a vanished scientist, must recover the scientist's revolutionary secret formula before the enemy catches up with his quarry first.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
John Stryker
...
Jessica
...
Reynaldo Mendel
...
Ikhedai Khan
...
Prof. George Bannerman
Sandra Warner ...
Isabel Bannerman
...
Pike
Khigh Dhiegh
Peter Madsen
Robbie Heywood
Hugh Sanders
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Storyline

An American secret agent, on the trail of a vanished scientist, must recover the scientist's revolutionary secret formula before the enemy catches up with his quarry first.

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Drama

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Budget:

$256,000 (estimated)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Trivia

This was one of a handful of TV dramas originally presented on NBC's Kraft Suspense Theatre (1963), then re-edited for European theatrical release. After being shown in the US on national network television, it was marketed to local TV stations as part of Universal's syndicated movie package. See more »

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Crazy and original but also a bit clunky--had potential for a classic B-movie
14 August 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Fanfare for a Death Scene (1964)

With a shaky camera start in a bizarre scene in a sanitarium, with people frozen in macabre deaths, we know we are in for something both completely weird and something very low budget. There is a whole slew of well known actors in the cast, including Burgess Meredith (doing an improbable opening crazy scene with a trumpet.

The year (1964) is the height of Cold War movies in the U.S., and this one is actually that, too. The lead character is Mr. Stryker, a businessman played by early television standard Richard Egan. His character is so self-important he can't answer the phone for the Joint Chief of Staff. So it turns out Stryker is also a detective in his spare time, and he has to track down the Meredith character, who is a top physicist.

An amazing cameo by Al Hirt almost justifies everything--the famous trumpeter blows some of the flashiest and smartest ad lib wailing you'll hear on a 1960s horn player. I know. I play trumpet, and there is subtlety and extroverted intensity together in this. One other person worth noting is Viveca Lindfors, who had a strange and varied career, but who was enormously talented at a time when the movie industry was dying, and she ended up going less far than you'd expect. And finally look for Ed Asner in a small appearance.

There is even more going on with the camera--odd angles, extreme wide angle, the shaky camera stuff, shifts from normal shooting to surveillance cams, fast moving dollies, on and on. There is a terrific fight scene in a room lit with irregular horizontal lines of light. It's a virtuosic approach that might be thought to be distracting but in fact is part of the craziness that makes this thing work. Or partly work. It's so stylizing and affected it gets almost silly, but then it's also hard edged and original, like a later "Detour" or some other B-movie drama that's become a classic.

"What is it?" a woman asks.

Stryker says, "It's either the mouthpiece for a trumpet...or the end of the world."


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