Glenn Corbett infiltrates blackmail gang led by Anton Diffring who uses charmer Christa Lang
"Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street" (1973) is a neo-noir TV-movie in English that appeared on a long-running German TV cop show series. It's notably written and directed by Samuel Fuller.
Glenn Corbett plays a private investigator whose task is to recover a compromising photo negative of a senator in a set-up and faked consort with Christa Lang. She's part of Anton Diffring's blackmail racket which specializes in drugging high political officials, taking faked love nest photos and then demanding large sums of money not to publish them. To find the source of the photos and the head of the gang, Corbett drugs Lang and uses her in a photo. He sets himself up as a rival blackmailer. This attracts Diffring's attention and pretty soon Corbett is working with Lang in the racket. This leads to an emotional bond between the two, dangerous because of the issue of trust.
Fuller makes sure to include outdoor location photography that adds a great deal of color. The movie is edited choppily. The story is not really developed smoothly. The plot is implausible. Despite the fact that the movie has problems, it comes across with a rawness, a basic emotion, much energy and a strong photographic sense that more than compensate. Certain parts of it are carried through nicely, such as a sequence in which Corbett and Lang set up an African dignitary. The sequence in which Corbett teams up with an associate to fool Lang is well done too.
One sequence has Diffring, an accomplished swordsman, making Corbett fight him with a sword in close quarters. The fight itself is one of the more weird such battles you will ever see. Believe me, it's not Flynn and Rathbone.
I hadn't seen this one in decades. I always had a fond but extremely vague memory of it. Now that I've seen it again, it strikes me as being a rough and ready film, with some memorable parts to it. The final sequence is certainly fully noir. I like Glenn Corbett's acting and his generally sincere persona. Fuller got an interesting performance out of Ms. Lang, where you never can be quite sure where she stands. This movie is said to be laden with in-jokes about prior thrillers, but that's another story.
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