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After an American diplomat inexplicably explodes a bomb during an international peace conference in Venice, killing himself and everyone in the room, CIA boss Frank Rosenfeld calls ex-agent Bill Fenner in on the case. Fenner is forced to find his ex-wife and save her from the clutches of both the good guys and the bad guys, while still obtaining the Vaugiroud report and uncovering the bombing conspiracy. Written by
In 1967, when the spy genre became well and truly a parody of itself, there were only some spy films that were serious attempts in the genre. "The Venetian Affair" is one such film. It's a very well made, suspenseful and dramatic work, based on Helen MacInnes' novel of the same name. Still TV's super-spy Napoleon Solo, Robert Vaughn plays the anti-hero, antithesis of Solo/Bond/Flint etc, as former-CIA man, now downtrodden journalist Bill Fenner. He plays Fenner extremely well, a perfect role for Vaughn's sensibilities as a thoughtful, intellectual man. Aided magnificently is a strong European cast - Elke Sommer, Boris Karloff, Luciana Paluzzi and Karl Boehm to name just a few. Also prominent is Edward Asner as the tough CIA chief Rosenfeld.
Overall, this is an excellent and often misunderstood film. Most people and critics alike, expected the any spy film from this era to be more glamorous and fun a la "In Like Flint" or "You Only Live Twice" which came out the same year. However, looking in retrospect some thirty-years on, one can appreciate a fine dramatic work, one which stands up to the test of time much better than any of its more outrageous competitors.
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