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Fanfare for a Death Scene (1964)

TV Movie  -   -  Drama
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 49 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

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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Title: Fanfare for a Death Scene (TV Movie 1964)

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Credited cast:
Richard Egan ...
Khigh Dhiegh
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Dee Hartford ...
Sandra Warner


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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







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$256,000 (estimated)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Original cinematographer Monroe P. Askins was fired and replaced by Conrad L. Hall. See more »

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User Reviews

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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