The Salzburg Connection (1972) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
7 Reviews
Sort by:
Convoluted espionage thriller with little to make it stick in the memory.
Jonathon Dabell7 April 2005
The Salzburg Connection is based on a novel by Helen MacInnes, and is a rather unoriginal spy thriller with the usual ingredients that characterise practically all early '70s movies within the genre: a convoluted plot, double-crosses, triple-crosses, characters with secrets, and attractive European settings. Barry Newman is actually rather good in the leading role, and is nicely supported by the gorgeous Anna Karina.

American lawyer William Mathison (Barry Newman) is vacationing in Switzerland when he is asked by an American publishing firm to go to Salzburg, Austria, to contact a photographer who has written a book about Austrian lakes. Mathison immediately realises that something is amiss when he reaches the photographer's small Salzburg shop and finds the photographer missing, and his anxious wife Anna Bryant (Anna Karina) being protected with near-claustrophobic zeal by her brother Johann (Klaus Maria Brandeur). Johann initially suspects that Mathison is a secret agent and refuses to give him any information. Gradually, though, Mathison realises that Anna's husband has been murdered, having found a chest in an Austrian lake containing a list of Nazi collaborators from WWII. Agents from all over the world, including Russia, Israel, Germany, Austria and America, want to get hold of the chest. Mathison finds himself playing a delicate game of cat-and-mouse, in which he can trust virtually no-one, such as KGB sex-pot Elisa Lang (Karen Jensen) who attempts to seduce him by posing as a free-wheeling American tourist, and elderly Austrian Felix Zauner (Wolfgang Preiss), whose name is on the list because he collaborated with the Nazis during the war in order to save the life of his wife.

The film could've been pretty good, but it misses rather too many opportunities. Newman and Karina, as I've already said, are quite good, and Jensen as the KGB lady-spy also registers well. Furthermore, the locations are pleasing to the eye. But other than these scant positives, the film is a somewhat poor affair. Lee H. Katzin directs sloppily, far too frequently punctuating his movie with gimmicky editing techniques such as meaningless freeze-frames and unnecessary slow motion sequences. Katzin also ruins several key scenes by failing to make it clear quite what's going on (e.g. the finale, in which Newman and Preiss approach an abandoned gunnery post on a mountainside, is terribly rushed and seems to make little sense). At a mere 93 minutes, the film tries to cram in a heck of a lot of plotting and counter-plotting, yet too many of the characters are so hurriedly introduced that it's hard to remember who they are or what agency they work for. One scene that I DID like, however, involved Karina being kidnapped by spies and whisked away in their car. Newman - a veteran of earlier car chase movies - takes a shortcut in his own car and manages to get in front of the baddies. In a clever twist on the traditional concept of a car chase, he slows down their getaway by driving so SLOWLY that the police eventually turn up to find out who's holding up the traffic! A rare ingenious moment in an otherwise dull potboiler.
29 out of 42 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A disservice to Helen MacInnes
JohnHowardReid31 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Although filmed entirely in and around Salzburg, this is a disappointing adaptation of the novel by Helen MacInnes which I read and thoroughly enjoyed around the time the movie went into production. Yes, I am aware of the conventional wisdom to the effect that a movie should NOT be compared to the book on which it is based. They are two different art forms and it's therefore considered that a movie should not necessarily be a faithful transcription of the book. But that is precisely what is wrong with this adaptation. It is indeed a mirror of the book and as a result is less suspenseful, less intriguing, and far less entertaining.

Director Katzin is seemingly unaware of this problem and does absolutely nothing to improve the movie's pace. Instead, he directs the action highlights in a slow-motion, stop-frame manner that admittedly makes then run longer – but with far less impact.

However, the ineffective way Katzin handles what should have been the action highlights, is nothing compared to the downright incompetent way he attempts to ram the dialogue scenes down our throats. Mr Katzin is obviously a recruit from TV who knows nothing – but absolutely nothing! – about film-making,

I don't know why the producer wasted his money hiring Lambert Hofer to design Karina and Jensen's wardrobe. We never see it. Any shots below shoulder level are rare – and this applies to the whole cast, not just Anna Karina and Karen Jensen.

The movie also cries out for reverse shots to relieve the monotonous cutting, but the cutter, John Woodcock, evidently had no choice. Katzin apparently didn't shoot any reverse angles at all.

The end result of Katzin's incompetence is a totally boring movie that, whilst certainly faithful to the book, is a real turn-off. Although Helen MacInnes can't be blamed for this unwise adaptation, I've never read any of her novels since.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
kind of a yawn
blanche-23 August 2012
Had it not been for some strong language, I would have tapped "The Salzburg Connection" as a TV movie, but apparently, it had a theatrical release. Based on the book by Helen MacInnes, the film stars Barry Newman, Anna Karina, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Karen Jensen, and Whit Bissell.

Newman plays attorney Bill Mathison, who goes to Salzburg to investigate a publishing contract for Richard Brandt, a man photographing Austrian lakes. When he arrives at the man's photo shop, he meets the Brandt's wife (Karina) and her brother Johann (Brandauer).

Shortly thereafter, he learns Brandt is dead as is one of Mathison's European contacts. Apparently agents are searching for a chest buried by the Nazis and believed to be in Brandt's possession. It contains the names of Nazi collaborators who can be called upon for neo-Nazi activities. All the countries want it for one reason or another -- the Americans want to know if any of these people have important jobs in the U.S.

I remember reading this book and liking it, but I am unclear if I saw this film. The Austrian scenery is glorious, but since this is a Twentieth Century Fox film, I can't believe they filmed in Salzburg without any visual references to Salzburg's major tourist attraction - The Sound of Music tour. Not to mention The Sound of Music postcards and other paraphernalia.

The film version is slow and boring, and I couldn't get attached to the characters or their plight.

Barry Newman made his name at just the right time, when the antihero types like Pacino were coming to fame, but his career never took off. He always had an air of overconfident playboy about him, but he was certainly popular, and he is still working. He's okay in this. Everyone is okay.

I'd say the scenery is the star.
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A routine action thriller with attractive locations...
Nazi_Fighter_David31 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
After 'Vanishing Point' and 'Fear Is the Key,' Barry Newman is involved in another auto-chase, but this time with a distinct difference... The baddies, not strictly gangsters but hoodlums with Nazi connections, have kidnapped Anna Karina for some dirty purpose and are driving away with her through busy city streets...

Newman, an American lawyer on holiday in Salzburg, finds himself suspected by spies of both sides... He chases the kidnap-car by continually managing to get in front of it (the high speed scenes), then slowing down to cause a traffic jam and attract the attention of the police...

Klaus Maria Brandauer makes his film debut here, before his appearance in 'Mephisto,' Oscar Winner for Best Foreign Film in 1981...
12 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Box Lunch
kapelusznik187 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
****SPOILERS*** Barry Newman as American lawyer William Mathison gets involved with a Nazi ring in Salzburg Austria who's job it is to keep the identities of Nazi war criminals from being made public;and thus subject to being made to play for their crimes. This all stems from a medal box dredged up by Richard Bryant, Patrick Jordan,from the bottom of Lake Fintersee that's been dumped there by the fleeing Nazis at the end of WWII. Before he can open the box Bryant is murdered by two ex-Nazis who've been on his tail form the start. That alerts the local police as well as the CIA KGB MOSSAD and German and Polish intelligence agencies to scramble for the box in that now all their leads to capture the fugitive Nazi war criminals have gone up in smoke.

Like most movies of this type, spy films, the plot twists and turns resulting in Mathison, an innocent bystander at first,getting caught up with the action in him trying to locate the missing box. That in him getting involved with Bryant's sister Anna, Anna Karina, who's targeted by the ex or on the lamb Nazis who feels she has knowledge about the contents in the box in who the Nazi war criminals, with their new identities, really are. We have a number of assassinations car chases and shoot-outs while at the same time enjoying the scenery of picturesque Austria until we finally get to see who's behind all this action. Who just happens to be a victim of the very Nazis themselves that he seems to be, in order to save his own behind, covering up for.

****SPOILERS**** In the end Mathison save's Anna's brother Johann, Klaus-Maria Brandauer, from the Nazis holding him hostage until he reveals where the box, that has since gone missing by him both stealing as well as burying it, is hidden. The person who set this whole crazy plan up, who shall remain nameless, ended up getting rubbed out by the very Nazis that he was protecting! And as for the box itself it ended up unsealed were it was all these years at the bottom of Lake Fintersee with all its contents, the secret list of fugitive Nazis, too soggy and totally destroyed due to water damage to make any sense of them.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
*1 1/2*
edwagreen21 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Very confusing film.

If it weren't for the fact that the film takes place after the war, you would recognize the scenery of the buildings in Austria just before the Anschluss of 1938 shown in the wonderful "The Sound of Music."

Everyone is after a box filled with names of Nazi collaborators during the war, many of whom could resurface should Nazism ever attempt to take hold once again.

The problem with the film is that there are so many sides that you begin to lose track of which side the individuals are.

You know you're in for a bumpy ride when both the photographer and the one who allegedly paid him money for the photographs both wind up dead within the first 10 minutes of the film. The bodies invariably begin to pile up.

You just don't know or understand where Klaus Maria Brandauer is coming from.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Not What I Expected
DKosty12331 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
What I thought I'd see was a tight spy thriller. What I got was something like a step barely above a Barry Newman TV show. It is all shot in Salzberg, Austria and the scenery is perhaps this films most impressive asset. The script and story are slow and plodding.

Anna Karina is here a lot, but the script gives her little to make an impression. Of course, Newman does not get a lot from it either. Karen Jensen does not get a lot of script, but the camera makes her figure look like it was ready for prime time in 1972. Amazingly this beauty did not get a lot of exposure.

The plot is a box of Nazi papers naming people responsible for some of the horrible things Nazis did during the war. The information is not easy to get, and there are a lot of curves and people after this box. Not a great film, very dull, and it should have been done better.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews