Wednesday, June 13, 2012


On a cruise ship docked in Istanbul, American Richard Denning is given the brush-off by the French Lisa Ferraday, who leaves the cruise and is given a job by the shady Donald Randolph:  impersonate an exotic dancer named Marie, the Flame of Stamboul, go to Cairo, seduce a rich Egyptian, and steal some jewels from his collection.  In Cairo, a very drunk Denning gets off the cruise ship and goes to the club where Ferraday is performing, making a scene and getting slipped a mickey by the bartender (Nestor Paiva).  However, the next morning, we discover that Denning is a spy and Paiva is his local contact.  Their assignment, which in good Mission: Impossible style will be disavowed by the U.S. consulate if they are caught, is to find out the identity of a powerful spy known only as the Voice.  Of course, it turns out that 1) Randolph is working for the Voice; 2) Ferraday doesn't realize that she will be, too, when the assignment changes from stealing jewels to stealing top secret defense documents; 3) Denning figures out that Ferraday is the Flame but doesn't know how much she knows about her criminal friends.  Norman Lloyd appears as an American crook who has a past with Denning; he works for the Voice, but is willing to switch his allegiance to Denning for enough money.  George Zucco, who mostly only appears in deep shadow, is the mastermind Voice, and after some fisticuffs, torture, murder, and some apparent double-crossing, the climax occurs at his dark den.  

What this 50's Columbia B-spy thriller has going for it: an atmosphere like that of a 40's Warners B-spy thriller, a solid 20 minutes or so in the beginning, and good supporting performances: from Lloyd (who in his relatively small role, steals every scene he's in), from the handsome Randolph (who comes off as more exotic than the leading lady) and Zucco (pictured above, to the left of Lloyd), in one of his last roles before he had to retire due to ill health--which probably explains his lack of physical activity in this movie; he is mostly seen sitting down.  Denning is a B-movie hunk (meaning in good shape with a comic-book hero jawline, but generally colorless) who strikes no sparks with the bland Ferraday, who doesn't even dance very well.  Still, the plot had just enough twists and turns to keep me interested.  [TCM]

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