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The film's opening title card reads: "ADEN 1943" and the opening prologue states: "This film presents a glorious episode in the history of the Italian Air Force in the last war. It is also the story of the brave men in the Secret Services without whose aid many military operations could not have been carried out". See more »
One of the kings of low-budget Italian action, Sergio Garrone, threw together this "drama" with little intrigue, character or action at all. The result is a rather well-meaning but bland and frustratingly boring by-the-numbers piece.
Spanish Nazi Pablo Vallajo (Horst Buchholz) works undercover in Libya, where he enlists the aid of some international thugs to heist several hundred gallons of fuel. He's to take the fuel to an isolated corner of the desert, where he will rendezvous with an Italian aircraft that needs refueling en route to an Allied target. Hot on the heels Vallajo is a British Major (William Berger).
This doesn't sound like a very interesting tale, does it? Surprise! It doesn't play out to be one, either. Everything about this film has been done before. The characters we're rooting for are on the "wrong" side, but not much is done to generate audience sympathy for them. Likewise, the English "villains" are not developed, either. Garrone's script (written with Tito Carpi) is based on clichés and never rises above this level. The actors don't do much except mumble and engage in rather pointless, short conversations for almost 90 minutes. That's a shame, because some fair talent was definitely on hand in this film: Horst Buchholz is a decent young leading man, and Sylva Koscina has certainly proved her worth in peplums and "The Battle of Neretva". William Berger is well-known for some of his work in spaghetti westerns, and the familiar supporting actors have all faired better. It's not that the script outright does anything wrong; it simply doesn't do much of anything right. Garrone is unwilling to take chances with his story and falls back on weak familiarities throughout. Even the "crowd characters" are a mass of clichés: the Arabs are vicious, ride horses and swing swords; undercover agents on both sides wear Fedoras and trench coats, etc. Garrone also overlooks the obvious or simple ignores it. The Allies try to stop Vallajo and disable the Italian bomber when it lands, but they never dispatch fighter planes to shoot it down.
At least Garrone does a fair job technically. While his direction is rather bland there are only a few innovative pans (such as when Berger descends a flight of stairs) or experimental photography. The production values for this film seem unusually high, however: the Moroccan exteriors and desert visages look quite realistic, and the many interiors offices, apartments, bedrooms, and war-rooms are all well-furnished and never look like sound stages. The costumes are very convincing and it's fair to say that the film looks somewhat like a piece of American film noir from the 1940s. When it comes to combat, footage, though, Garrone again falls short. The few shootouts take place in badly-lit, nighttime exteriors and are incomprehensible. I've seen multiple prints of this movie; this is a consistent flaw, not the fault of a video distributor or simply aged film. Original shots of planes are constantly sacrificed for badly edited, black-and-white vintage footage shot during the 1940s. The technique is used over and over again and no attempt is made to disguise it. The best aerial footage here looks as good as the worst aerial footage in "Midway".
"The Dove Must Not Fly" is a very uninteresting, low-budget hack of earlier, better war films about similar operations. It is only worth look only for completest, or die-hard fans of the cast or director.
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