Thursday, July 14, 2011


This average spy thriller is set at a small resort hotel on the French Rivera just before the outbreak of WWII. James Mason, a medical student and amateur photographer, is hauled in by the police when the film in his camera is discovered to have some snapshots of military installations, photos that a German spy might have taken. Mason's not a spy and the police know it, but they want him to go back to the hotel and find out which guest might have accidentally used his camera for their espionage. The suspects include a pompous windbag who is wrong about virtually everything he says, a scruffy fisherman, a German loner, a newlywed couple, the female manager of the hotel, and, of course, a pretty young girl whom Mason can fall for while he's risking his reputation and his life with his somewhat sloppy investigation. Most critics compare this unfavorably to a Hitchcock thriller, but I think that’s asking it to be something it isn't and, as an RKO B-film, could never have been, not to mention that the film has three directors given credit, which is never a good sign. It does occasionally have some nice visual touches that wouldn't have been out of place in a Hitchcock film, but the lower your expectations, the more you're likely to enjoy this film. The plot has holes and the acting is so-so, with the standouts being the young Mason, the always reliable Herbert Lom (pictured), and Lucie Mannheim as the hotel proprietress. Not especially memorable, but not a waste of time for fans of the stagy WWII B-spy films, like me. [TCM]

No comments: