A ruthless pirate captures the keeper of a lighthouse, somewhere in north Argentina. His goal is obvious and horrific. He plans to control the lighthouses signals in a way that the passing ships will be crushed on the rocks.
In 1905, Polish horse thieves living near the Russian border find their livelihoods threatened by the new Russo-Japanese conflict because the Russian army requisitions all horses and forcibly conscripts all men for the war.
Policemen Novak & Thompson go undercover to infiltrate a gang of counterfeiters. Standard cross and double-cross crime story with plenty of London location work. Written by
Allen Dace <email@example.com>
Quite routine as can be for a crime feature, but there's somewhat a dreary and hardened underbelly. The investigation that transpires is predictably weary as you feel like your watching something out of a old- school crime TV episode but what it has going for it is that the grimy locations help with the moody ambiance and the main performances up it a notch. Yul Brynner is in the lead and along side are Edward Woodward and Charles Gray as a shady, if eccentric villain "The Owl". So there are some real solid acting chops on show.
An American secret service agent working with Scotland Yard goes about trying to infiltrate a dangerous counterfeit ring looking to upscale their business. Brynner plays it tough as nails (but there's something a little more to his psyche that be shows minor cracks), while Woodward is the chatty local partner who's assigned to Brynner's American agent. I thought it was going to play out like some buddy feature (as the two shared a fitting combination with some British humour), but it soon moves away from that angle midway through when the thick script brings in the villains and the scheming begins (also slowing things down) as our protagonist (Brynner) sets his plans in motion by snooping and trying to uncover the mastermind behind this counterfeit ring. In between this are some intense exchanges, beat-downs, nasty encounters and sauna visiting amongst the London views.
There's clichés aplenty amongst the smokescreen of genre staples and throw in that racy big band score typical of the era. The plot is rather thin, as you can feel it being stretched out with the amount of repetitive actions occurring and its revelation feels abrupt making little headway, but I always found Brynner to be a very watchable actor despite that detached-persona and it does possess a dangerous edge never making the character feel too safe. The earnest direction is tranquil in manner and the handling rather practical in style, as the pace is leisured throughout making a little sluggish. Although its does come to a crushing end in the final stages with a downbeat final shot.
"He's rather a tough nut".
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