The Prize (1963) Poster

(1963)

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8/10
about as far-fetched as you can get but still a lot of fun
MartinHafer27 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very light-hearted mystery-suspense film. Paul Newman is in Stockholm to receive a Nobel Prize when he is pulled into a plot with international implications. Despite the seriousness of the plot, the writer and director did a good job of balancing chases and near-death experiences with occasional bouts of silliness that worked well for me. I particularly liked when Newman and Elke Sommer were running from the bad guys. They ran into a meeting hall to hide but found that it was a group of nudists, so they had to do what they needed to do to blend in and not be noticed. This was very reminiscent of another of Ms. Sommers' films, A SHOT IN THE DARK. One final praise and it was because the film also features Edward G. Robinson--for this it earns an extra point, as he was an excellent actor that did a lot more than just gangster flicks.
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6/10
A Ringer At The Nobel Prize Ceremony
bkoganbing17 November 2007
This light adaption of Irving Wallace's novel The Prize serves as yet another Hitchcock wannabe production. I'm sure Paul Newman's performance here got him cast later on with Alfred Hitchcock himself in Torn Curtain.

Irving Wallace's Cold War novel was a good deal more dramatic than what we see here, though the plot centers around the serious business of kidnapping. It takes place at Stockholm during the Nobel Prize Awards ceremony. Edward G. Robinson, a defector from behind the Iron Curtain, is to receive the Nobel Prize for physics. But the Russians have other ideas.

Robinson has twin brother who they plan to substitute after they kidnap Robinson. Robinson is to denounce the capitalist warmongers at the ceremony and then go back to Russia. Or both Robinsons will, willingly or unwillingly. Assisting them in their plans is Diane Baker, the daughter of the Commie Robinson and niece of the defector.

One of those small things that usually happen in Hitchcock type films trips up the plans. Before he's kidnapped Robinson has a casual encounter with Paul Newman who is receiving the Nobel Prize for literature. Later on Robinson doesn't seem to remember it at all, or Newman for that matter.

It's probably the writer's curiosity that gets him aroused, but Newman with the help of Swedish Foreign office attaché Elke Sommer starts to unravel the whole dirty scheme.

Newman does fine work here as a Norman Mailer type iconoclastic author, but I'm still wondering why he goes into that Reginald Van Gleason type voice on occasion in the film. I guess working with Jackie Gleason in The Hustler must have had a more profound impact than anyone thought.

There's a nice sidebar plot going with the dual recipients for the Prize for Medicine, Sergio Fantoni and Kevin McCarthy, each of whom thinks they should get sole credit for a discovery. And there's the modern day Curie husband and wife team from France, Gerald Oury and Michelline Presle, who are keeping up appearances, but leading quite separate lives except for work.

The real star of the film however is the Swedish capital city of Stockholm and we get to see many fine shots of it during the course of the story.

The Prize might be too light a treatment for devoted fans of Irving Wallace, but it's all right as a Hitchcock light type of film.
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6/10
tense paranoid thriller vs light sex comedy
SnoopyStyle19 August 2014
The Nobel prize in literature is being awarded to the brash drunken womanizing author Andrew Craig (Paul Newman). The Swedish Foreign Ministry assigns Inger Lisa Andersson (Elke Sommer) as his minder. Dr. Max Stratman (Edward G. Robinson) is another winner coming to Stockholm with his young niece Emily (Diane Baker). He's got a rendezvous with mysterious Hans Eckhart. Dr. John Garrett (Kevin McCarthy) is forced to share his prize with his competitor Dr. Carlo Farelli (Sergio Fantoni). Dr. Claude Marceau (Gérard Oury) and his disgruntled wife Dr. Denise Marceau (Micheline Presle) are awarded the prize for chemistry. He's brought along his mistress. Craig meets Stratman in a very knowing and friendly manner. Eckhart wants Stratman to defect. When he refuses, Stratman is kidnapped. In the second meeting, Craig reveals that he's been making his living writing mystery novels under a pseudonym and Stratman doesn't seem to be the same person. Craig gets a mysterious call and finds a dead body. However the body disappears and nobody believes him.

This starts like a sex comedy. Newman comes in after 15 minutes and the tone is extremely light. Then the mood becomes more serious with the kidnapping. I would prefer the mood stay serious from the beginning. The movie oscillates between a light comedy and a dark thriller. Newman delivers some fun comedy. The character should be more serious. The movie works much better as a paranoia filled Hitchcockian thriller. I would also rather have the mystery be kept a secret. There is no room for any twists. The movie reveals all the good stuff right away. This movie really struggles with dueling tones.
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7/10
C'mon people. We needed sex-related stuff in movies!
lee_eisenberg3 June 2007
It seems that some people's criticism of "The Prize" is that it goes overboard in the sex stuff, and in particular makes Sweden look like a sex bastion. Considering that we were coming out of the repressed 1950s, I regard it as basically a necessity to show sex appeal in these sorts of movies (and hasn't Europe for many years been more open about sexuality than the US?). This one portrays several people going to Stockholm to accept Nobel prizes, when some thugs try to mess up everything.

My opinion of this movie is mainly formed by Elke Sommer's presence. Is any man really going to tell me that he can think about her and NOT get at least one lewd thought?! Certainly the idea of her being on screen with Paul Newman as an American author with a devil-may-care attitude about everything magnifies any dirty image in my mind! With my sexual fantasies this extreme in my normal life, my hormones probably would have gone through the roof had I been on the set with her.

So anyway, even though this is sort of a silly movie - and the Cold War stuff weakens it a little - it's always a pleasure just to get to see Elke Sommer on screen. I can imagine that in the unseen scenes, her character and Paul Newman's character probably went at it like wild animals. I think that, just to show all that she could be, Elke Sommer should have starred in a movie featuring her in the middle of a giant orgy. Maybe Paul Newman could have co-starred, but I also picture it starring the likes of Marcello Mastroianni, Peter Sellers, Dick Van Dyke, Audrey Hepburn, Steve McQueen, Sean Connery, Carroll Baker, Elizabeth Montgomery, Tina Louise, Barbara Eden, Sophia Loren and Dorothy Provine. That's my ideal.

"The Prize" co-stars Edward G. Robinson, Diane Baker, Micheline Presle, Leo G. Carroll and Kevin McCarthy.
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7/10
Good-Natured Hitchcock Ripoff.
rmax3048238 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
An enjoyable comic thriller filled with familiar incidents. If, in "North by Northwest," Cary Grant is pursued in an open field by an airplane, here Paul Newman is chased back and forth by a murderous car on a long bridge. If, in the first, Grant must make himself enough of an annoyance in an auction to be rescued by the cops, here Newman must do the same at a meeting of nudists in a gymnasium. It's not too surprising since both films were written by the same man, Ernest Lehman. You can REPEAT yourself but you can't PLAGIARIZE yourself. Lehman even throws in an image from a Hitchcock number he had nothing to do with. In "Saboteur", the heavy falls from the Statue of Liberty. Here he falls from a rooftop in Stockholm and is impaled on the sword of a huge statue below. And the substitution of the evil Robinson for the good Robinson is from Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent."

Newman is a former literary star, invited to Stockholm to accept a Nobel Prize, who has lost his willingness to try and now devotes himself to writing detective novels under a nom de plume and to drinking martini after martini. As far as the alcoholism goes, though, he remarks near the beginning, "Ewww. This is my third martini and I haven't even had breakfast yet," so he retains his amateur standing.

Anyway, the booze business is dropped once he's swept up into a Cold War plot to substitute a faux scientist, a twin of Edward G. Robinson, who is a benign American scientist. At the awards ceremony, the Soviet ringer plans to make a speech condemning free enterprise, capitalism, the exploitation of the working class, the decadence of the West, miniskirts, shaved legs, hair mousse for men, electronic fussball, and Yosemite Sam. The genuine Robinson has been kidnapped and the sinister Robinson has taken his place. The difference between the two is nicely done -- mostly a matter of having the good Eddie smiling weakly and the bad Eddie scowling and sounding like Little Caesar in retirement. Make up has added darker, thicker eyebrows to the evildoer.

It is Newman's self-appointed job to unravel the plot and restore the correct Robinson to his justified place on the dais at the ceremony. He will be helped by his toothsome chaperone, Elke Sommer, whom he squeezes so vigorously at one point that she complains he is breaking her "rips", something any normal man would enjoy doing.

The inquiry takes Newman through myriad Swedish settings, from grand parties at the royal palace, through filthy rusting ships, to hotels in which he must run through the corridors wearing only a towel around his waste -- everybody's favorite nightmare.

The direction by Mark Robson is professional and so are the performances. Paul Newman is a bit of a surprise. He's never been particularly good outside of dramas but he's quite effective here. Watch him try to explain to the skeptical Stockholm police that he has discovered the body of a murder victim and add that the body has now disappeared. Oh, the body has disappeared? Newman looks momentarily taken aback as he realizes how ludicrous this sounds, hesitates, then plunges determinedly ahead -- "Well . . . yes!" Cary Grant would have walked away with this part but Newman carries the ball well.

The whole thing is a wanton ripoff of Hitchcock but it's so amiable and so funny in its characters, situations, and wisecracks, that it doesn't really matter. You'll probably enjoy it.
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6/10
Suspenseful and intriguing movie with frankly good main and support cast
ma-cortes8 July 2020
As the Nobel Prize winners come to Stockholm to receive their valuable awards . For some reason , this year's Nobel prize in literature has been awarded to the young author named Andrew Craig (Paul Newman) , who pretending to be a great seducer has fun by Stockholm nights . Another laureate results to be Dr. Max Stratman (Edward G Robinson) , the notorious German-American physicist who comes to Stockholm for the award ceremony with his young and beautiful niece Emily (Diane Baker) . The Foreign Department also assigns him a helper during his stay , the wonderful Miss Andersson (Elke Sommer) . Craig soon notices that Dr. Stratman is acting rarely , and he subsequently does not even recognize him , after that , he starts investigating . Once again our protagonist get an information that comes across something what place them in jeopardy and winds up being chased all over the town ; in addition , he shows up at a nudist meeting .

Tense/suspense/mystery abounds in this Hithcockian style thriller , in fact it bears a certain resemblance to ¨Torn curtain¨(1966) by Alfred Hitchcock , it combines the elements of spy-genre with romance , drama , comedy and pursuits . Concerning Stockholm's stay of some Nobel candidates , whose lives are disturbing , overturned and perturbed when a terrible event happens . This good thriller with all-star-cast made by a fine craftsman preys on the senses and keeps the suspense at feverish pitch . Newman is pretty good as the awarded writer who seems to be more interested in women and drinking than writing , he gives one of his most likeable interpretations , while falls for both , Emily nicely played by Diane Baker and Miss Andersson: gorgeous Elke Sommer . As the German Elke Somer plays the fiancée whose tidy life is disrupted when she becomes involved in the twisted caper . And top-drawer support cast , such as : Micheline Presle , Gérard Oury ,Sergio Fantoni , Kevin McCarthy , Sacha Pitoëf, Leo G. Carroll , Don Dubbins, Virginia Christine , Karl Swenson and many others .

By time the film and acting received negative reviews ; however , today is better considered. Colorful cinematography by William H. Daniel , habitual cameraman from Greta Garbo films and her main photographer . Special mention for the stirring and suspenseful musical score by the great Jerry Goldsmith .The motion picture was professionally directed by Mark Robson , though it has some flaws and gaps . In the early 40s Mark Robson was much involved with the low-budget terror unit in charge of producer Val Lewton , for whom made ¨Seventh victim¨, ¨The ghost ship¨, and ¨Island of the dead¨. In the late 1940s Robson joined Stanley Kramer's independent company and directed his biggest commercial hit to date with ¨The champion¨. Years later Robson made another good film about corruption in boxing world titled ¨The harder they fall¨ with Humphrey Bogart. In the late 1960s, his work did decline . And of course , ¨Von Ryan Express¨ was one of his best films ; this one is certainly one of the best movies ever made about the WWII escapes . And his last one was ¨Avalanche Express¨ turned out to be an unfortunate film in which Robson and his main star , Robert Shaw, died suddenly from heart attacks . Thanks to a top-notch cast , spectacular frames , tense images and action , all of them make this one a good effort of its kind . Rating : 6 . Acceptable and passable but no extraordinary .
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6/10
Paul Newman as a likable bastard-hero...it almost works
moonspinner5528 January 2010
Ernest Lehman, the writer of Alfred Hitchcock's "North By Northwest", was a terrific choice to adapt this Irving Wallace suspense tale...and though director Mark Robson may never be confused with Hitchcock, the overall look, pacing, and feel of "The Prize" are quite similar to "Northwest". Paul Newman plays a hard-drinking heel, a once-promising but now cynical, womanizing writer who has turned to detective stories to pay the bills; he nevertheless has been chosen as one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize for his literature, and sobers up just in time for some exciting adventures in Stockholm. He suspects that one of the other Prize winners is a ringer, with no one else on-screen in his corner (just Foreign Ministry worker Elke Sommer in his arms!). A handsome piece of work, the film does have minor deficiencies: the opening introductions are amusing but a bit pedantic, while an overlong sequence with Newman escaping killers by hiding out at a nudist convention lands with a thud (Cary Grant may have been able to pull this off, but Newman is still too callow). Supporting cast is first-rate, though Lehman tries to have it both ways with Diane Baker's mysterious character, and one ends up not understanding much about her actions or motivations. Newman, shuffling along with a bemused smile, has some nice moments with Sommer, while Edward G. Robinson does a fantastic actors' turn playing two sides of the coin. **1/2 from ****
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7/10
A diverting tale, if you overlook many plot inconsistencies
JohnHowardReid5 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Copyright 24 October 1963 by Roxbury Productions. Released through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. New York opening at the Radio City Music Hall: 23 January 1964. U.S. release: 25 December 1963. U.K. release: 1 March 1964. 12,120 feet. 135 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Newly arrived in Stockholm to receive their Nobel Prizes are Andrew Craig (literature), Max Stratman (physics), John Garrett and Carlo Farelli (medicine), and Claude and Denise Marceau (chemistry). The first night Stratman, who is accompanied by his niece Emily, is kidnapped by Communist agents and his twin brother (Emily's father) takes his place. The plan is to remove the real Stratman to behind the Iron Curtain while his brother makes derogatory remarks about the U.S. during his acceptance speech. Craig, who had met the real Stratman, becomes suspicious of the impersonator and starts his own private investigation. As a result he finds himself in the center of an intrigue and several attempts are made upon his life.

NOTES: Location scenes filmed in Stockholm.

COMMENT: Mediocre entertainment at best. Its many faults include a dated, pot-boiler script about Russian spies on a kidnapping spree with E. Phillips Oppenheim impersonations. Whether to take the goings-on seriously or not is a big question. At times, the plot is obviously played for thrills, on other occasions for laughs.

A number of technical imperfections also cause viewer unease. These include blatant doubles in 2nd unit sequences, glaringly obvious process screen effects, and action spots that are amateurishly under-cranked. The direction is undistinguished, though reasonably fast-paced. Daniels' color cinematography is disappointingly ordinary throughout.

That the film is better than the sum of its parts is due almost entirely to the cast. Newman plays sullenly, if with an occasional mordant wit. In fact, he starts off well, but is let down by the script when his character as the scared pulp-writer who is being unwillingly drawn into the parallel world of his own creation — this time for real — is abandoned halfway through. Instead the character reverts to a standard heroic mold with acrobatics that include jumping on to the side of a high-speed truck to avoid knife-wielding assassins and a spectacular dive off a Stockholm bridge.

Unfortunately, there are still inconsistencies. Robinson fares better with an ingenious role which for some reason (tiredness) he plays at only half strength, relying for effect more on his heavy make-up than his native histrionic abilities. McCarthy as usual performs most capably in a minor sub-plot, whilst Miss Presle is unattractively photographed in another. Diane Baker has a thankless, if oddly appealing part, which she plays with little zest.

On the solidly credit side are the silkily attractive Elke Sommer, Rudolph Anders as Bergh, John Wengraf as the villain and Sacha Pitoeff as Daranyi, his shivery henchman.
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7/10
The Prize is Some Kind of Amusing Winner ***
edwagreen9 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Paul Newman was able to show some bursts of comedy, rarely scene in his long, brilliant career in this 1963 thriller.

Edward G. Robinson has a field day playing 2 parts here of a physicist and supposedly his East German twin brother, thought of as being long since dead.

Too bad for Diane Baker here. At last, I thought she had a role that she could really get her teeth into. She is forced to work for the Communist East Germans when her supposed dead father turns up living and the Communists want him to change places with his physicist twin. They force Baker to work for them, but even in that, her role is limited.

Elke Sommer serves as Newman's assistant in Sweden when he wins the Nobel Prize in literature. While she is effective in the part as Newman's eventual lover, there are some scenes that she comes across as if she is in a picture with Bob Hope.

The picture is intriguing and tries to bring out that even Nobel Prize winners are human people with frailties as well as all of us.
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6/10
Lehman's screenplay is deft, amusing, witty and a bit of a rip-off...
Doylenf8 December 2006
Ernest Lehman can be excused for borrowing liberally from himself in the course of writing the script for THE PRIZE, since he gets us hooked by setting up the tale with some very clever exposition in the first fifteen minutes by having waiters delivering a special guest tray to the various recipients of the Nobel Prize in Sweden at the Grand Hotel, with a sense of irony and humor in their shenanigans.

The sophisticated wit and humor doesn't stop there. As soon as the character of PAUL NEWMAN (as Andrew Craig, literature winner) is introduced, we're treated to another version of the sort of character Cary Grant played in NORTH BY NORTHWEST--a man who suddenly finds himself in a situation where he becomes the target of assassins who want him out of the way because he knows too much.

The similarities don't end there. There's a nudist convention that Newman has to barge into in order to escape two killers and he tries in vain to get them apprehended by the authorities. (Sound familiar?) There are people who refuse to believe his story of an attempted kill where he was thrown off a balcony and into the sea by a man trying to knife him to death. Another familiar moment occurs when he revisits a murder scene with the police--but the scene has been cleaned up and a woman denies that there was ever a dead body on the floor or that they owned a TV set (which is missing), as Newman claims.

Furthermore, every situation Newman is thrown into has its humorous side, mostly because of some stinging one-liners he gets to bandy around at the bad guys, like the waiter who only hours before is the one who threw him off the balcony. "How are the crepe suzettes? Is there a body in there?" Lehman keeps the yarn spinning along in dangerous territory, but always with a good deal of humor in the words and actions of DIANE BAKER (as a mysterious woman), EDWARD G. ROBINSON (in a pivotal role as a Nobel scientist replaced by a double), KEVIN McCARTHY, LEO G. CARROLL and others.

Handsomely photographed in Widescreen and color, it's no NORTH BY NORTHWEST as far as the suspense is concerned, but it is almost as diverting despite some mighty far-fetched escapes that only a writer as talented as Ernest Lehman could manage to make credible. Never read the Irving Wallace book, but I'm sure the crisp dialog can be attributed to Lehman, not Wallace, since it sounds so much like NORTH BY NORTHWEST at certain moments.

Nice jobs by PAUL NEWMAN and ELKE SUMMER as the foreign assistant assigned to be his aid during his stay in Stockholm and with whom, of course, he becomes romantically involved. Newman's breezy performance is full of cocky ease and he's clearly at home in this sort of caper.
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6/10
"A fool and his Nobel reputation are soon parted."
utgard1420 August 2014
In Sweden to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, author Andrew Craig (Paul Newman) jokes that fellow laureate Dr. Max Stratman (Edward G. Robinson) might be an impostor and no one would know. Turns out the joke is closer to reality than Craig realizes as Dr. Stratman has been replaced by a Communist lookalike. Craig becomes suspicious of the impostor and soon his suspicions put his life in danger.

Mark Robson's enjoyable spy movie has Hitchcockian elements but doesn't quite reach the level of the master. The pieces are there, though. Newman's his usual charming self and has good chemistry with Elke Sommer and Diane Baker. Robinson's always great. It's a little overlong and the first hour could use a trim. Hitchcock would have jumped into the main plot a lot sooner, I think. But that's just one of the many differences between a decent director and a great one.
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5/10
During his feeble, declining years, famed movie director . . .
oscaralbert14 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
. . . "Al Hitchcock" tried to compete with the "James Bond" Secret Agent 007 eye candy flicks with such misfires as TORN CURTAIN and TOPAZ. However, THE PRIZE takes the cake for being lamer and more implausibly contrived than even Al or Jim's most ludicrous outings. During the ponderous plot of THE PRIZE (bloated by at least an hour of nudist camp and amateur heart procedures padding), about 75% of Sweden's populace is presented as being in cahoots with the Russian KGB and East German Stasi. As these secret police and Fifth Columnist Quislings are tripping over each other, entire hospitals, piers full of dock works, and hotel staffs operate in goose-step to facilitate the Soviet Propaganda Machine. Meanwhile, TWO cheesy VERTIGO falls are inserted, along with some of Hollywood's clumsiest back screen projected process shots ever (during the various car ride scenes). Don't let THE PRIZE take YOU for a ride, or you'll be in for a long slog off an endless pier.
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4/10
Too much schmoozing and boozing and not enough amusing.
bombersflyup11 August 2020
Warning: Spoilers
The Prize is all fine, but lacks bite for the run-time.

Maintains a consistent level, without memorable moments or payoff. Baker underutilized.
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2/10
Predictable and irritating at best
HotToastyRag27 June 2021
When the movie started, I was so happy for Edward G. Robinson, snagging a leading role over thirty years after he reached stardom. He plays one of the people traveling to Stockholm for the Nobel Prize ceremony, and in the beginning of the movie, he has the main focus. Then, Paul Newman shows up. He's so irritating, it's hard to believe he's the star who makes girls in the audience swoon. A whiny voice, lousy posture, glasses, a rotten attitude - how can we root for him when he gets involved in the main adventure?

The Prize is such a copy of North by Northwest, it's mind-boggling. The same screenwriter (Ernest Lehman) wrote both films, but that's hardly an excuse. Couldn't he come up with any other plot points? Taking the police to the house and having a lying woman pretend nothing happened earlier; making a scene in a crowded room to alert the police; a duplicitous, icy love interest; the hero isn't believed because he's intoxicated; falling from the great height of a national monument; the list goes on. The main difference is the The Prize isn't nearly as good as its predecessor. It's irritating, implausible, boring, and predictable at best. Even if you feel drawn in by the cast, as I did, save yourself the two hours and just watch your favorite Paul Newman or Edward G. Robinson movie instead.
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7/10
Classic 1963 Film
whpratt127 January 2007
Edward G.Robinson, (Dr. Max Stratman),"The Red House", played the role of a Nobel Peace Prize winner who had a great knowledge that another country desired and were arranging a plot in order to take him from Stockholm to a destination unknown. Paul Newman, (Andrew Craig) was also a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his great writing abilities in America and got himself deeply involved in this mystery. Andrew Craig was a man who loved women and plenty of Dry Martini's and got himself in all kinds of crazy situations. Elke Sommer,(Inger Lisa Andersson), was assigned by the Swedish Government to make certain Andrew did not get into too much trouble before he received his Prize. This film has plenty of comedy and drama and seems to go on and on and begins to get very boring. If it were not for Edward G. Robinson and Paul Newman, this film would really have fallen on its face. Elke Sommer gave a great supporting role and it was great seeing great veteran actors.
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7/10
A Hitchcockian thriller and Newman playing himself !!
elo-equipamentos23 December 2019
Newman paved a solid career with your usual mannerism, here he enforces it on strong colors, first as a snobbish guy, boozing behavior, egocentric, he as Andrew Craig a writer just travelled to Stockholm to receives a Literature's Nobel Prize, however he sneers the prize, just was there to receive 50.000 dollars only, always flattering girls, he has a special assistance the beauty native Inger Lisa Anderson (Elke Sommer) also he meets Dr. Max Stratman (Robinson) a famous Physic from iron curtain who works in USA, later he was kidnapped by reds and put his twin brother in your place, Andrew suspicious that something is wrong after meets Stratman one more time, he doesn't seen the same person, henceforth Andrew starts investigate on one's own this intriguing case, many weird situation comes across, amusing scenes, others contrived, has many sub plots with others winners, delightful dramatic comedy blended with other genres, a true Hitchcockian thriller, worth to see!!

Resume:

First watch: 2019 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 7.75
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8/10
Homage to the Master
JamesHitchcock28 March 2004
Imitation in the film world is not always a bad thing. We can all think of movies that are eminently watchable despite owing an obvious debt to an earlier film or to the work of a particular director. Alfred Hitchcock is one director who has always attracted his fair share of imitators. Films such as Henry Hathaway's 'Niagara', J. Lee Thompson's 'Cape Fear' or Brian de Palma's 'Dressed to Kill' all owe an obvious debt to the master's work (even down to the trademark blonde heroine) but are nevertheless good films in their own right.

All the above films were influenced by the darker side of Hitchcock's work; the strongest influence on 'Dressed to Kill', for example, seems to have been 'Psycho'. He did, however, have a lighter side, often seen in his spy films which frequently blend suspense with humour. Examples are 'The Lady Vanishes', with its two eccentric cricket-loving English gentlemen, 'The Thirty-Nine Steps' and, most importantly for our purposes, 'North by North-West'.

'The Prize' clearly shows the influence of the lighter Hitchcock. The setting is the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, and the central character is the winner of the prize for literature, Andrew Craig, an alcoholic American novelist suffering from writer's block. (As numerous figures in the American literary establishment around this time did indeed have a drink problem, it is interesting to speculate who might have been the model for the character). Craig discovers a Soviet-block plot to kidnap Dr Stratmann, the German-born American winner of the physics prize, and to replace him with a double who will use ceremony to announce his defection to East Germany. Like the Hitchcock films mentioned above, the film mixes tension with humorous moments. The tension arises from Craig's attempts to thwart the kidnap plot and to convince the sceptical Swedish authorities of its existence. The humour mostly arises from the scenes featuring the other prize-winners. The French husband-and-wife team who have shared the chemistry prize have done so despite the fact that they cannot stand each other. (The husband has insisted on his mistress accompanying him under the guise of his 'secretary', while the wife enjoys flirting with Craig). The American and Italian co-winners of the prize for medicine constantly bicker about which of them has plagiarised the other's work. (The peace prize winner does not appear to feature in the film, although a pacifist is sorely needed to keep the peace among the others).

Even the scenes featuring Craig are not always to be taken seriously. Although there are genuine moments of suspense, such as the scene with the car on the bridge, there are humorous moments as well. As other reviewers have pointed out, the scene at the nudist convention owes much to the auction scene in 'North by North-West', also written by Ernest Lehman. The humour here arises from the contrast between the seeming absurdity of Craig's actions and their underlying serious purpose- he is trying to attract the attention of the police because he is in danger from the villains.

There are a number of effective performances, especially from Paul Newman as Craig and Edward G. Robinson as both Dr Stratmann and his double. The result is a superior piece of entertainment, not quite as good as Hitchcock at his best, but better than most of his sixties movies except 'Psycho' and possibly 'Marnie'. It is certainly closer to authentic Hitchcock than his last two spy films, 'Torn Curtain' and 'Topaz'. 8/10.
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6/10
Fitfully, mildly entertaining.
gridoon4 December 1999
"The Prize" is a fitfully entertaining, slickly made Hitchcock-like thriller. The premise is somewhat reminiscent of "The Lady Vanishes" and screenwriter Lehman, who also wrote the script for "North By Northwest", includes a scene here - the one involving a convention of nudists - that plays like a direct homage to the unforgettable auction sequence of the 1959 Hitchcock classic. The film stars Paul Newman, who is nearly as enjoyable to watch in his role as Cary Grant, and it's full of lively dialogue and colorful performances. But it goes on too long and the pace seems slack at times; if the storytelling was tighter, the film would be much more exciting. Now, it's only a mild entertainment.
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5/10
No Sur-prizes
Lejink7 October 2021
Hitchcock was taking longer between his movies so Hollywood saw a window of opportunity to release a number of high-gloss contemporary thrillers in the style of the Master, "Charade" and "Mirage" also come to mind. Here, future Hitchcock actor Paul Newman is the innocent drawn into a world of murder, intrigue. And general skullduggery in the improbable setting of Stockholm for the annual presentation of the Nobel Prizes.

Newman's Andrew Craig is the dissolute American writer who has been awarded the prize for literature, although the award is obviously more about past glories than recent achievement. Assigned a beautiful minder in the comely form of Elke Sommer, it's not long before he's hitting the booze, chasing women and generally making an ass of himself, much to the discomfort of the event's organiser Leo G Carroll.

Craig sobers up however when he accidentally stumbles on a plot to replace another of the prize-winners with a made-up lookalike who's been set up by the Russians to use the opportunity for propaganda purposes. This next involves Newman being chased by a thin, sallow-faced, rain-coated man who couldn't look less inconspicuous if he had the words "Foreign Spy" tattooed on his forehead. Anyway, he kills one link in the chain and has a go at ending Newman by throwing him out of a high window in one of the poorest demonstrations of special effects I've seen as Newman "plunges" downwards at seemingly one mile per hour. No wonder he survived his drop into the drink!

Stopping briefly along the way to poke some stereotypical fun at the naturist-loving Swedes, it all ends up in a denouement in the style of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" at the prize-giving ceremony itself with a "North By Northwest" type ending for the baddie too. Screenwriter Ernest Lehman, who wrote the brilliant "North By Northwest", also rehashes his own ideas from that source with scenes reminiscent of the crop-dusting and auction house scenes but to much weaker effect.

It takes a director of the flair and sophistication of Hitchcock to carry off improbable nonsense like this and Mark Robson just doesn't have either. Newman is at his irritating worst as the befuddled protagonist and must be the most unconvincing drunk I've seen (c.f. "Harper"). Throw in the rote casual sexism, weak SFX (Robson doesn't even learn from Hitchcock's mistakes as he employs awful back-projection shots) and a near-anonymous villain and you have a pretty thin smorgasbord here, and yes that's the punch-line to a weak gag in the screenplay too.
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6/10
Paul Newman wins a Nobel Prize?
JasparLamarCrabb10 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
An extremely convoluted plot that somehow makes for a very entertaining movie. Mark Robson, not the most imaginative director, whips up a Hitchcockian thriller starring Paul Newman as a Nobel Prize winner (for literature!) who slowly unravels a bizarre plot involving murder, kidnapping, two Edward G. Robinsons and a couple of silent killers. Newman is terrific, giving it his all as a drunken womanizer with a wicked sense of humor. Elke Sommer, in what may very well be her finest performance, is well-matched with Newman. She's very sexy and, as the film is set in Sweden, her accent does not get in her way. Diane Baker plays an unlikely bad girl and she steals the scenes she's in. Written by Ernest Lehman and featuring some direct lifts from his previous NORTH BY NORTHWEST.
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7/10
"The Prize" is rather entertaining, though silly
Nazi_Fighter_David1 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Director Mark Robson and scriptwriter Ernest Lehman (both of From the Terrace) transformed the relatively serious Irving Wallace novel into a glossy blend of comedy, suspense, melodrama, romance, sex and international intrigue…

The complicated story concerns a group of Nobel Prize winners gathered in Stockholm for the ceremonies… Newman is the winner in Literature, although he's written only cheap detective thrillers (under pseudonyms) for the past five years… Another hard-drinking womanizer, he has plenty of booze, and a beautiful Swedish official (Elke Sommer) assigned to him… But he's distracted from these long enough to suspect that the Physics prizewinner (Edward G. Robinson) has been kidnapped by the Communists and replaced by a double… Naturally, nobody believes him
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9/10
Obviously inspired by Hitchcock, but as Hitchcock-imitations go this one is absolutely terrific.
barnabyrudge9 November 2005
Director Mark Robson tilts his hat to Hitchcock with this adaptation of an Irving Wallace novel. A slick, light-hearted thriller of international intrigue, with a dash of sex and humour thrown in, "The Prize" is actually BETTER than some of the stuff Hitchcock was making around that time (eg Torn Curtain and Topaz). No doubt, part of the reason for the Hitchcockian similarities is due to the fact that this film was scripted by Ernest Lehmann, who just a few years previously had written North By Northwest. Anyone who remembers North By Northwest will probably recollect the famous auction house scene, and here, in "The Prize", Lehmann has written-in an almost identical scene in which the hero narrowly evades capture by creating a stir at a nudists' conference!

American writer Andrew Craig (Paul Newman) is in Stockholm for the Nobel Prize Ceremony, for which he has won the Literature award. Known for his boozy antics, as well as his distinct lack of respect for those in authority, Craig is assigned a personal assistant, Inger Lisa Andersson (Elke Sommer), to keep him in check during his stay. Less well-known is the fact that Craig has been suffering from writer's block for several years, and has been writing cheap crime novels under a pseudonym in order to make ends meet. With his nose for a mystery he soon sniffs out some very curious goings-on at the ceremony. He becomes increasingly convinced that the Physics Prize Winner, Dr Max Stratman (Edward G. Robinson) has been kidnapped and replaced by a double. Since no-one will believe him, it is left to Craig and his pretty Swedish assistant to uncover the truth.

"The Prize" actually starts quite slowly, with an amount of time set aside for character introductions and plot exposition that impatient viewers might find excessive. However, the build-up pays off brilliantly once the action gets underway and all the jigsaw pieces of the plot drop into place. Modern film-makers seem to be of the opinion that the best approach is to hurl the audience straight into the action, but "The Prize" proves conclusively that audiences get far more excitement and enjoyment when the plot and characters have been constructed with care and detail. In particular, the relationship between the various Nobel prizewinners is an utter joy (especially the husband-and-wife chemistry winners who actually hate each other; and the co-winners of the medical award who accuse each other of stealing their best ideas). There are a great variety of suspenseful and humorous moments in "The Prize". Add to that the game performances, excellent location work, Jerry Goldsmith's good music score, and the general sense of solid, old-fashioned entertainment.... and you're looking at a Hitchcock pastiche par excellence.
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5/10
At Least Elke Looks Nice
aimless-4626 January 2007
It took me years to finally see "The Prize" (1963), although the film had intrigued me since I saw a production still featuring the then radiant (and very young) Elke Sommer. But until I actually viewed "The Prize" I was unaware that this was one of the earliest Hollywood attempts to create a blockbuster. Not because of potential box office (it would take "Jaws" and "Star Wars" to start that revolution), but because the industry at the time felt the only way to successfully differentiate themselves from television was by bundling up a cast of thousands with a whole lot of exotic location shots, and a running time far in excess of anything to be found on the tube (the mini-series had not yet been invented).

This "cast of thousands" includes prospective Nobel prize recipients in Stockholm for the awards presentation. Novelist Andrew Craig (literature-Paul Newman), refugee Max Stratman (physics-Edgar G.), John Garrett and Carlo Farelli (medicine-Keven McCarthy and Sergio Fantoni). Commies (this is the cold war after all) kidnap Stratman, with the aid of his niece, Emily (Diane Baker) who believes this is a way to free her father. Suspension of disbelief is necessary at this point as the premise is that her father is Stratman's identical twin who will take his place and denounce the United States during his acceptance speech (yawn).

Newman is the star and he teams up with a hot Swedish official (Miss Sommer) to foil the Commie plot. The Newman-Sommer stuff is the best part of the film along with a fun performance by Jacqueline Beer, which adds some degree of comic relief. Believe it or not they take 134 minutes to tell this story, which barely has enough interesting story elements for a 50-minute episode of "I Spy".

So for those thinking about watching "The Prize", be prepared for a fair amount of absolute boredom. There have been attempts to compare the film to some of Hitchcock's stuff, particularly "North By Northwest". That is quite a stretch although even "Rear Window" had it's occasional boring moment, maybe if you take the most boring minute in any Hitchcock film and multiply it by 134.

If you are looking for comparisons think Arthur Hailey as the Irving Wallace source material is very similar. Imagine an overlong combination of "The Young Doctors" and "Hotel".

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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6/10
Turning an Irving Wallace story into a homage to Hitchcock?
JuguAbraham24 January 2003
If you have read the book, what the film has to offer is unfortunately a replay of what Hitchcock created in 1959.

Ernest Lehman was the script writer for Hitchcock's "North by northwest." I was surprised that two scenes from the classic were modified by Lehman for "The Prize". The famous scene of Cary Grant being almost killed by a plane in the open field is replayed here with Paul Newman being terrorized by a car on an empty bridge at night. A few minutes later into the film Lehman replaces the auction sequence in the Cary Grant film with Newman in a nudist conference. If you have seen the Hitchcock film you know what follows. Was it a homage to Hitchcock or was Lehman suffering a bout of creativity loss? Or was Director Mark Robson a die hard Hitchcock fan?

The book, pulp fiction at its best, made good casual reading. The film is good to pass the time, watching Paul Newman and Edward G. Robinson re-enacting roles similar to what they have enjoyed playing so often. The wisecracks (thanks to Irving Wallace) make the otherwise dumb and predictable film worth your time.
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7/10
If only the Nobel Prize ceremonies were always this intriguing
Terrell-415 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
For a Hitchcock knock-off, The Prize is not bad at all. There's an amusing situation (not Lincoln's nostril but the Nobel Prize ceremonies), scenic tours (not of the Riviera but of Stockholm), a gaunt killer (not an imported assassin who knows music but a waiter), a long, terrifying fall (not Madeleine Elster but Paul Newman) a supple blond ice queen (not Grace Kelly or Eva Marie Saint but Elke Sommer) and a dashing hero (not Cary Grant but Newman). And in an odd sort of way, it's Paul Newman who is as much a drawback to the movie as a plus.

Newman plays Andrew Craig, an American author who has run out of steam after two great books. He's been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature and has arrived in Stockholm, full of martinis and self-loathing, for the award ceremonies. Craig is on his way to becoming a lush. The Nobel committee has assigned him a keeper, Inger Anderson (Elke Sommer), to keep him out of trouble, away from the booze and to see that he minds his manners. She's not altogether successful. At the hotel, Craig meets Dr. Max Stratman (Edward G. Robinson), an émigré after WWII from Germany who is now an American citizen. Stratman is receiving the Nobel for physics. They chat and agree to meet for further discussion the next day. Craig also meets Stratman's niece, Emily Stratman (Diane Baker). Yet at the next morning's press briefing, where all the Nobel winners have gathered to meet reporters, Stratman acts as if he's never met Craig before. Only we know why; Max Stratman has been propositioned to defect to East Germany...and when he refused, he was abducted and replaced by his twin brother, Walter Stratman, from behind the Iron Curtain. It's not long before Craig catches on that something nasty is happening. Partly out of concern for Max Stratman, partly out of boredom, he sets out to answer the questions that keep popping up in his head. Along the way he finds a body, is pushed off a tall building into an ocean channel and nearly killed by a tugboat, is threatened and then almost run over by a car, finds himself in an eery psychiatric hospital and then, pursued by two killers, in a meeting hall filled with nudists. What can he do but take off his clothes to blend in? At the climax, he finds himself clamoring around the cargo holds of an East German freighter where only he seems to believe the villains have hidden Stratman. And all along he is either helped or hindered, take your pick, by Inger Anderson and Emily Stratman. It's easy to tell who the bad guys are, but not so easy to figure out which of the two women is playing a double game.

While all this is going on, preparation for the Nobel ceremonies is taking place...the receptions, the rehearsals, the getting-to-know the other winners, some of whom turn out to play key roles, especially the two who have won the Nobel for medicine. They dislike each other intensely yet find a grudging friendship when they must work together to save a key character. Best of all is Leo G. Carroll as Count Bertil Jacobson, charged with making sure everything at the ceremony moves smoothly. Carroll, a veteran of Hitchcock films, is droll and understated.

Why is Newman essential to the movie? Because he has star power, and we recognize it as soon as he appears on the screen. Hitchcock was at his best with strong, charismatic actors. Newman provides the same strength here. Why is he also a weakness? Because he's no Cary Grant. The Prize is the same kind of international adventure, romantic and stylish, as are To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest. Where Grant could effortlessly turn irony into amused charm, however, Newman turns irony more often into a kind of petulant sarcasm, especially when he's acting half in the bag. And where Grant and Kelly melted the celluloid, Newman and Sommer don't make many sparks. They're playful, find themselves in compromising positions, smile out a few hopeful double entendres, but it's all just pleasant acting. On the other hand, Edward G. Robinson brings a great deal of authority to his role. There's not much of him in the second half of the movie. In the first half, however, we get to see him as an avuncular, kindly and smart old man, someone we can believe would make a man like Craig become concerned about, and then as a cold-eyed, deliberate and not-so-kind character.

All-in-all, The Prize is a snappy, reasonably fast-paced cold-war adventure, a lot of fun to watch. I enjoy it whenever I see it. I just wish Hitchcock and Grant had made it.
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