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The only reason I decided to check this one out was because it’s set in Malta; the result, however, was an exceedingly feeble comedy-thriller from, of all people, the Disney stable and, needless to say, a long way behind Hitchcock.
Incidentally, this was the film which forced the studio to open a parallel label – Touchstone – so that they could make more adult-oriented fare: its few moments of violence and the appearance of a man in drag, presumably, were the offending elements in this regard! The title is the typical outfit worn by the detective hero of 1940s film noirs: here, it’s incongruously donned by the irritating would-be thriller novelist Margot Kidder(!) – while the boyish-looking Robert Hays is the typical undercover agent (whose mission is to catch a ring of plutonium-traffickers). I can’t say the script-writers/film-makers were particularly inspired by the Maltese locations – so much so that it could have been set practically anywhere else to much the same dismal effect (it’s simply not thrilling and certainly not funny)!
Most of the other characters are seen either aiding or harassing the two leads – sometimes they seem to be doing one when their intention is actually the opposite; these include clumsy assassin Leopoldo Trieste, laid-back police chief David Suchet (TV’s future Hercule Poirot!), a couple of sweet old lodgers at Kidder’s hotel, a German mystery woman, and a Sicilian stud. A notable appearance is put in by John Justin (yes, the hero of the classic Michael Powell/Alexander Korda THE THIEF OF BAGDAD  in what amounted to his last feature-film role!) as the long-suffering aristocratic owner of the hotel, whose place is turned upside-down by the end of the film. By the way, I only spotted two Maltese actors of stature in bit roles – one played a guide at a museum, and the other a fishmonger who helped Kidder evade her pursuers in one scene.
For what it’s worth, the identity of the villains is ingenious (if not exactly original); in the end, though, in spite of a number of chases, the film is never as engaging (or enjoyable) as it should have been…and only manages to give a bad name to the genre it’s playing at, not to mention the people and country involved!
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