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George M. Cohan,
Wow, no user comments at all for "Istanbul Express"? That's kind of surprising, even given the film's relative obscurity.
Gene Barry plays an American art dealer who occasionally also works as a government secret agent. His latest assignment is to travel to Istanbul by train and out-bid representatives from various countries around the world in an auction about some recently unearthed research documents from a famous (now dead) scientist. The money he will need is in a safety deposit box of a bank in Istanbul, and throughout his journey contacts of all shapes and sizes approach him and give him one number of the account at a time. But some passengers on the train are working for "the other side", and they will try to prevent Barry from reaching his destination....
Bright Technicolor photography, genuine on-location shooting in beautiful Venice, Istanbul and (briefly) Paris and flavorful music make "Istanbul Express" more successful as a travelogue than anything else, but it's not bad as an espionage thriller, either - in fact, it has some classical genre touches ("Now that you have the numbers....reverse them!") that have been curiously absent from the James Bond movies for a long time now. You can tell it's a TV production, not only because of the obvious cues for commercial breaks, but also because of the "PG"-level violence and the lack of "big" action set-pieces. But it's a slick, good-looking TV production, and certainly superior to a lot of "theatrical" spy films of the same era. Senta Berger has a small but important role. **1/2 out of 4.
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