In a complex piece of espionage the Russian secret service attempts to kidnap a high ranking officer in the CIA and replace him with a double of its own.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dan Slater / Kalmar
Frank Wheatley
Anton Diffring ...
Col. Berthold
Mrs. Carrington
George Mikell ...
Max Gruner
Julia Arnall ...
Anna Wheatley
David Bauer ...
Andrew Miller
Ronald Radd ...
Russian General
Kenneth J. Warren ...
Police Chief
David Healy ...
Carl Jaffe ...
Police Surgeon
Douglas Muir ...


Following the death of his son, in a skiing accident in the Austrian Alps, the cold and emotion-less Dan Slater travels to Austria for the funeral. In the face of official indifference he decides to investigate and little by little strange inconsistencies start to appear leading Dan to conclude that the death of his son was no accident. A retired, former undercover operative, Frank Wheatley, whom he had hoped would watch out for his son proves useless as Dan seeks out the murderer's. Eventually, Dan finds Gina, the companion of wealthy socialite Mrs. Carrington, who puts him on the correct trail little realizing that he is falling into a cunning, cleverly thought out trap laid by Berthold. Berthold hopes to kidnap Slater and substitute him with an exact double in order to obtain a mole in the highest echelons of the CIA. Will he succeed or will Frank and Gina realize something is amiss and rescue Slater? Written by Mark Smith <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The key man to the most daring plot ever concocted by the secret agents of two worlds!


Mystery | Thriller


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Release Date:

1 May 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Legacy of a Spy  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Douglas Muir worked 5 days. See more »


At 1:20:37 an escaping Slater, whose hands have been closely cuffed, is for the moment free of the handcuffs, which are back on a moment later. See more »


Gregori: Good luck.
Kalmar: Who needs luck? We've got organization.
See more »

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User Reviews

Exciting spy film set during the Cold War with thrills , noisy action , plot twists and interesting script
28 July 2015 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

The film has suspense , tension , emotion , mystery and specially in its final a little bit of violence . Following the death of his son , in the Austrian Alps , ¨The Key Man¨ , a high ranking officer in the CIA called Dan Slater (Yul Brynner) , has to face off the most daring plot ever concocted by the secret agents of two worlds : East and West , during the Cold War . In Austria he decides to investigate and step by step finds out that the death of his son was no a skiing accident . A retired , prior undercover operative , Frank Wheatley (Clive Revill) , whom he had hoped would watch out for his son helps Dan seeks out the real killers . By the way , Dan meets socialite Gina (Britt Ekland , though Ulla Jacobsson was offered first this role) , the companion of rich and mature Mrs. Carrington (Moira Lister) , who puts him on the alright trails o perhaps fake clues . Eventually , rare inconsistencies begin appearing leading Dan to conclude that Russian secret service led by Col. Berthold (Anton Diffring) attempting a mysterious kidnapping .

Suspenseful movie packs thrills , intrigue , frantic action , twists and turns . This complex piece of espionage is notable for its snow-capped scenery and its thrilling intrigue from start to finish . Interesting as well as amusing screenplay from Alfred Hayes and Frank Tarloff based on Henry Maxfield's novel titled "Legacy of a Spy". However , the movie's script was similar to the then recently released Spy with my face (1965) and its TV counter-part The agent of T.I.A. : The Double Affair (1964) . Although the picture has various ingredients for entertainment , the screenplay is also complex , including inexplicable incidents , the plot has gaps , in spite of it results to be pretty fun . Nice acting by Yul Brynner as cold and emotion-less agent , a top-notch performance who steals the show and gorgeous Britt Ekland's first major movie role . Support cast is pretty good such as Lloyd Nolan as Major Edwards who assigns him the dangerous mission , Clive Revill as undercover agent , Moira Lister as wealthy Mistress and Brandon Brady as Russian agent . Special mention for Anton Diffring in his ordinary German face and cool , clipped diction , as he replaced an actor who dropped out ; here Anton plays magnificently a Russian operative who attempts to substitute starring with a double of its own in order to obtain a mole in the highest echelons of the CIA agency . Diffring was a character actor who worked continuously in movies due to his aristocratic style , making him ideal for typecasting in British and later American films as Nazis and other vile , despicable roles , what was ironic about his typecasting as a Nazi is that he fled Nazi Germany in 1939 .

Lively and enjoyable musical score by Ernie Freeman , including catching sounds throughout . Colorful cinematography by Dennis Coop , shot on location in wonderful outdoors as the mountain range vista seen in the film is the Tyrolean Alps situated in the state of Tyrol in western Austria . Good aerial scenes and spectacular snowy landscapes carried out by the late aerial cameraman John Jordan who died whilst working on Catch 22 (1970) . It was released before the snow-laden James Bond movie On her Majesty's secret service (1969), Jordan worked on both these spy movies . Lavishly produced by Hal E Chester , he was a juvenile actor , then a producer of low-budget movies in Hollywood, before he moved in 1955 to Britain, where he set up his own production company to take advantage of the lower costs of filming ; over the next 15 years he turned out a wide range of pictures, which often featured American stars such as Mickey Rooney, Dana Andrews, Paul Newman and Yul Brynner . The picture was well directed by Franklin J. Schaffner . He made excellent motion pictures such as "The Planet of the Apes", "Patton, " "Papillon" , ¨"Nicholas and Alexandra" , after the flop of his film titled " Islands in the Stream ", in which went on to coincide with the actor of "Patton" , George C. Scott , he decided to embark on a project more commercial and successful as "The Boys From Brazil" ; however , ¨Sphinx¨ ,¨Lionheart¨, ¨Si Giorgio¨ were other box office failures . Rating : Better than average , worthwhile watching .

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