Friday, August 30, 2013

HIRED WIFE (1941)

Brian Aherne is the head of a small but successful cement company. Rosalind Russell is his "girl Friday," the secretary who keeps things running smoothly; she also has a thing for Aherne though he's clueless. Virginia Bruce is a hot blonde model whom Aherne wants to hire for a new ad campaign. When a consortium tries to take over Aherne's company, his lawyer (Robert Benchley) advises him to get married and put his cash and assets in his wife's name to protect them. He decides to marry Bruce, but Russell makes Bruce think that Aherne is insulting her by trying to buy her, so she says no. Russell says yes, and they get married by a small-town justice of the peace (Chester Clute). She moves in with him, but to ensure there's no hanky-panky, Benchley also moves in and sleeps in Ahern's bedroom, with Russell in a guest room. However, when Aherne finds out what Russell did, he starts openly dating Bruce. Then it turns out that the weddings that Clute has been performing are invalid, so all bets are off as Russell and Bruce fight over Aherne.

This is a mildly paced screwball comedy, the kind that needs a good cast to put it over, and this one does have a pretty fair cast that helps to paper over some of the screenplay problems. Sometimes (AUNTIE MAME, HIS GIRL FRIDAY, THE WOMEN) I love Roz Russell, but more often I don't, so I’m pleased to count this in the plus column. She gives just the right amount of juice to what could have been an unpleasant character (for my money, Katherine Hepburn in BRINGING UP BABY goes way off the rails). Aherne is not my favorite actor, but he's nicely in control here; I generally always like Bruce. As usual, Benchley is very funny and not really given quite enough to do. I haven't even mentioned the plotline involving handsome and elegant John Carroll (pictured with Russell) who does a nice job as a gold-digger who sets his cap for Bruce. There are plotholes galore but the cast and the brisk direction by William S. Seiter make this generally enjoyable. [TCM]

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

UNHOLY LOVE (1932)

Theoretically, this is a modern retelling of Flaubert's Madame Bovary, set among the upper class in Rye, New York, but aside from the central situation, it bears little resemblance to the novel (as I recall it from my college days). H.B. Warner is a doctor who is called to the bedside of a dying man, the father of Joyce Compton. Warner's son (Lyle Talbot), who had been attending the man, can do no more. Neither, as it turns out, can Warner. But he is surprised to discover that Talbot and Compton have been secretly married—the expectation was that he would marry Lila Lee, a woman closer to his own class. No one expects it to last: Lee says to Warner, "He's brought home another stray kitten," and Warner replies, "Yes, and we're all going to get fleas." Soon, after the couple gets high-hatted at the fancy 400 Club, Compton does get a little itchy, but two tennis-playing playboys offer to scratch that itch. During the summer, Compton buys a cottage so she can shack up with one of the playboys but Warner finds out about it and tries to keep the truth from his son; things generally go south from there until, when the playboy tires of her, she tries to kill herself.

This B-movie exemplifies many of the problems that plagued early talkies: an immobile camera, stilted acting, stagy set-ups, no background score, and weak writing. The one interesting twist is in the casting: the dark, sultry Lila Lee plays the good girl, and the blond, wholesome Joyce Compton plays the bad girl. Lee is fine but her talents feel mostly untapped; despite getting higher billing than Compton, she doesn't have much to do. Compton doesn't seem very naughty—her voice is high and bouncy like that of the fine comic actress Una Merkel—and her character is given almost no background, so unlike with Madame Bovary, we have very little reason to empathize with her, or even to dislike her as a standard homewrecker. I like Talbot (pictured with Compton), but by the halfway point, he's largely written out of the plot. He does get a good line early on: "Don't hate me just because I'm a tongue-tied mug." Jason Robards Sr. is one of the playboys. A ponderous melodrama, only for fans of the cast members. [YouTube]

Monday, August 26, 2013

NOWHERE TO GO (1958)

In an impressive opening sequence with a jazzy score and a film noir feel, con man George Nader escapes from a British prison using explosives smuggled up to him by rope and arrives at a flat which his buddy Bernard Lee has gotten for him while its owner is away. In a flashback, we see how Nader, young and charming, scammed an older woman out of a collection of rare coins, sold them and put the money in a safe deposit box, and allowed himself to be caught, thinking that because he's American and a first-time offender, he'd get a light sentence. Instead he gets ten years, hence the breakout. Nader goes to retrieve the money but is scared away by a policeman. He wants more help from Lee, but Lee wants a bigger cut of the money. Meanwhile, a lovely young woman (Maggie Smith) shows up looking for the owner of the flat. In the way of such ventures, nothing goes right for Nader: there’s a double cross and a death, and then, because of the headlines over the death, the underworld figures that might help Nader give him the cold shoulder. The only person left is Smith who eventually figures out that Nader is in big trouble, but she's fallen for him so she takes him out to the country to stay with her family. Unfortunately, even out there on a farm, Nader winds up with nowhere to go.

Though not a masterpiece, this is a nice example of latter-day film noir. Nader (pictured) is good playing a bad guy who has few redeeming qualities, yet for whom we still have some sympathy. His surface charm feels exactly that—only on the surface—but we still keep holding out hope that he'll get free and straighten up. Maggie Smith, in her first movie and at only 24, looks impossibly young, and plays her character with a nice mix of innocence and guile. Lee, famous as M in the earlier James Bond movies, is fine as the greedy friend. The movie looks great with superbly crisp black & white cinematography; the first half is fairly well paced, but the second half drags, partly because nothing can match the exciting opening scene. Good jazz score by Dizzy Reece. [TCM]

Thursday, August 22, 2013

FEAR (1947)

This Poverty Row film noir adaptation of Crime and Punishment has some of the typical hallmarks of a below-B budget movie including cheap-looking sets, an underpopulated look due to a lack of extras, and some screenplay loopholes, but the stylish direction by Alfred Zeisler knocks this one up a notch and makes it worth seeing. Larry (Peter Cookson) is a struggling medical student living in a shabby apartment. He's behind in his rent, and when he gets a letter telling him the college has had to cancel all their scholarships (first screenplay weirdness), he takes his father's engraved watch to Prof. Stanley who acts as an unofficial campus pawnbroker, but Stanley won't give him enough to cover rent. The next evening at a college diner, the guys all badmouth Stanley, saying he's no better than "a leech or a black beetle." Inspired by the chat, Larry returns to Stanley's to kill him and steal money from his locked box. He smashes the professor's head in with a fireplace poker, but before he can get away with the money, visitors at the door scare him away. Suddenly, Larry's luck changes: a journal accepts an article he wrote about "men above the law" and he gets a check for $1000. He also hits it off with Eileen (Anne Gwynne), a young woman he loaned money to earlier who is now working at the diner. But since his watch was found at Stanley's apartment, he also comes to the attention of Inspector Burke (Warren William) who plays cat-and-mouse games with him, first treating him as a sidekick, then trying to get him to admit his guilt. When a housepainter who was in the building at the same time as the murder is arrested, Larry thinks he's all set. But of course, fate has other plans in store.

If you know your Dostoyevsky, you may think you know the resolution, but there's a twist ending that's kind of a cheap trick, though it's also sort of fun. At any rate, it doesn't really spoil the rest of the movie for two reasons: 1) due to weak writing, we don't really care about any of the main characters or their outcomes; 2) the rest of the movie is enjoyable. The acting is slightly better than average for a Monogram cheapie: Cookson holds the screen well—and he's on screen for almost the entire running time—and Gwynne (pictured with Cookson) is fine, though underused. William, only in his early 50s, looks rundown—and indeed he died the next year—but he brings an old pro's touch to the movie. Busy character actor Nestor Pavia slinks in and out as a cop who is constantly following Larry, or at least Larry thinks he is. A very young Darren McGavin, with bleached blond hair, has an amusing bit as a student who tires balancing a beer bottle on his chin. A strong noir atmosphere is present in the murky nighttime look of the film. There are a few very nice directorial touches, including Stanley's murder—we don't see the killing blow, but we do see Stanley fall to the ground and a cup of coffee spills, looking just like blood. A shot of Larry strolling the streets at night and contemplating suicide by stepping in front of a train is also nicely done. [TCM]

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS (1947)

As you know if you read this blog regularly, I enjoy B-movies of the 30s and 40s. With their cheap sets, unexceptional acting, flimsy scripts, and short running times, they are an acquired taste; today's younger moviegoers, used to more professionalism in any given cable TV program than they'll find in some of these films, probably never watch them. But for me there is something pleasurable about their unpretentious tone, their largely unknown cast members, and sometimes a style so primitive that I think, "Hell, I could have made this in my backyard!" And, of course, there is the pleasure of picking the film apart for its illogic or its plot loopholes or its boring and/or batshit-crazy performances. This movie is really no better or worse than hundreds of other B-movie adventure films, but it deserves to be enshrined in the "so bad it’s almost good" category.

Jean Preston is in India hunting for her fianc√© Greg Jones; he was last seen on safari but has vanished.  She and Greg's father learn from two natives named Tondra and Moya that Greg had mysteriously gone off to Africa on a solo safari with Moya as his guide, but before they can tell more, Moya is shot and killed. Leaving the dead body in her hotel room, Jean and Mr. Jones head off to Africa and into the jungle with an entourage including a young—and possibly sinister—admirer named Wayne, a comic-relief cook named Gabby, a handful of natives, and a hunky guide named Gary. We find out, in part through awkward narration from Mr. Jones, that Greg was actually investigating an ivory smuggling gang so they worry that harm has come to him. Actually, he has fallen in love with Zita, the Queen of the title, one of a group of women who survived a shipwreck years ago and have set up their own little village in the wilderness. When our gang gets to Zita's place, they discover that someone with a tie to Zita may be behind the smuggling ring.

The one strong point here is the plot which is as compelling as any average jungle melodrama—imagine Gary as Tarzan and Jean as Jane—but most of it is laid out as exposition. What little action there is comes mostly at the end, in a nicely done battle sequence between the good guys and the bad guys. The rest of the film is made up of bland dialogue scenes interspersed with obvious stock footage of lions and tigers and natives—lots of stock footage. Scenes tend to either end abruptly or take too long to fade away. The acting is mostly dreadful, but of course that's part of the fun. Patricia Morison is a total zero as Jean, as is Keith Richards (not the Rolling Stone) as Wayne. John Miljan is boring as the elder Jones, and Amira Moustafa, in her one starring role, is both exotic and unexciting as Zita. B-movie stalwart Robert Lowery (pictured with Moustafa) is fine as Gary and old pro J. Edward Bromberg does what he can with the underwritten part of Gabby. The best line is Gary's: “Zita, my dear, you're quite a queen.” Certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but my bad movie self was happy. [DVD]

Monday, August 19, 2013

THE SEED OF MAN (1969)

A 50-year truce in a global war has been breached; war has continued and various illnesses are laying waste to the populace. A young couple (Marco Margine and Anne Wiazemsky, pictured) at the airport see TV screens playing footage of the war and head out to the countryside to escape. Along the way, after driving through a particularly long tunnel, they see a schoolbus stopped in the middle of the road with everyone on it dead of the plague. Soon they are stopped by a patrol, checked for signs of plague, and told to leave their car and head off on foot and find a new home. At the seashore, they find a beach house whose owner’s dead body is sprawled out in a chair on the front porch. They set up housekeeping there with Margine turning the house into a museum with, among other things, a typewriter and a huge wheel of cheese on a pedestal. Margine wants a child but Wiazemsky doesn’t want to bring a new life into the world. They encounter a black-shirted paramilitary group on horseback who tell them that procreation is their duty; later, when another woman (Annie Giradot) comes by, flirts with Margine and eventually has sex with him, but the jealous Wiazemsky beats her to death, cuts off her leg, and serves it up for dinner that night.

You probably don’t need any more plot summary to decide if this Italian film is your cup of post-apocalyptic tea. The journey-to-the-sea trope reminds me of Cormac McCarthy's recent book The Road (I haven't seen the movie) and the last half of GLEN AND RANDA. Directed by Marco Ferreri and made on the cheap, the film has very few special effects—war footage is obviously black & white newsreel film from WWII—and very little gory make-up (except in two short scenes). There is a gigantic washed-up dead whale (yes, it's a Moby Dick symbol) and a nice moment when the couple see a blimp in the sky and assume it's help on the way but it's actually a Merry Christmas ad for Pepsi. The ending is frustrating on both a narrative and symbolic level. For fans of 60s and/or end-of-the-world films only. [DVD]

Saturday, August 17, 2013

GLEN AND RANDA (1971)

We first see Glen and Randa, two young people, frolicking naked near a stream and investigating a rusted car up in a tree—apparently the tree grew through the car. The world into which they were born is post-apocalyptic—apparently due to nuclear war—and the population of America seems to be broken up into small communal camps of people who can barely communicate with each other, let alone set up any kind of government. Glen and Randa have patched together bits of information gleaned from books, comic books, and magazines about the way the country used to be—when they see a horse, they think it’s either a dog or a camel—and Glen wants to find The City, which he thinks is called Metropolis. They meet up with a glad-handing fellow who calls himself the Magician, a self-styled clown/wise man figure who babbles constantly but makes little sense, and with a map he gives them, the two go on the road. They discover Randa is pregnant and eventually reach the West coast, which now is in Idaho, and are befriended by an old man named Sidney Miller living alone on a beach. He lets they stay in a dilapidated trailer (with the skeleton of its previous occupant still stretched out on a couch) and helps them enlarge their vocabulary by writing the names of household objects (like “stoev” and “teve”) on the objects. When Miller tells them that people used to sit and watch TV all night, they plunk themselves down in front of it, staring at the blank screen because they think they should. Glen is certain that if he could just get across the water, he'd find The City, though Sidney tells him that nothing's left past the water.  There’s a birth, a death, a fire, and an Adam & Eve (with a twist) ending.

I don’t review many movies of the 70s because the end of the Production Code and the beginning of the movie rating system really does mark a distinct break between the classic and modern movie eras. But this was one I've wanted to see since I was a teenager. It's a low-budget, scruffy independent film (called "underground" in its day) which was originally released with an X rating because of the male and female full-frontal nudity featured in the opening scene. However, despite one brief sex scene later in the film, this would not raise many eyebrows today—and has indeed been re-rated with an R. It's usually described as science-fiction because of its setting in a future world, but it has very few of the trappings of traditional SF, and is more akin to EASY RIDER in its look and feel. Steve Curry, from the original cast of Hair, does a nice job as the innocent stripling Glen. He's so good, it seems strange that his acting career went nowhere. He has to carry the picture partly because Randa, played by Shelly Plimpton, is barely a character; she has few lines and aside from being pregnant plays no important part in the action. The most shocking scene in the film involves Curry grabbing fish out of a stream and beating them to death on the rocks (not an ASPCA-approved moment). Garry Goodrow is incredibly tedious as the Magician, with most of his monologues seeming improvised. It took fortitude to stick with the movie past his section (roughly the first half-hour), but things did get better. Woodrow Chambliss is effective as the old man, the only character here to have a potentially interesting backstory, and his bonding with Glen and Randa is touching without being overly sentimental. Worth seeing; the satisfying ending makes up a bit for the rough first third.  [DVD]

Thursday, August 15, 2013

MASK OF THE DRAGON (1951)

Daniel, an American soldier who is heading back home from Korea, agrees to take a valuable jade dragon statuette with him to deliver to a gift shop called the Jade Lotus. He assumes he’s doing a good deed for the Chinese storeowner, but he's unwittingly smuggling uranium into the States. When he arrives in Los Angeles, he is attacked and killed by two thugs but they don't get the dragon; he had mailed it to the wife of his good friend, private eye Phil Ramsey. The rest of the movie is a cat-and-mouse game involving Phil, his wife Ginny, the proprietor of the Jade Lotus, his henchmen, the cops, and a singing TV hostess named Terry. The print of this B-thriller on a Forgotten Noir set from VCI is beautiful; it's a shame that the movie is so bad. Richard Travis, who plays Phil, is a terrible actor, though to be fair, he's no worse than most of the rest of the cast. Sid Melton (familiar to me as Uncle Charley on TVs Make Room for Daddy, far right in the picture at left) is just dreadful as an offensive comic relief thug—a Caucasian making a series of bad jokes about Asian names, as in "Chiang Kai-shek and his cousin Cancelled Check." An actor credited as Mr. Moto (also the jokey name of his character, pictured putting the blindfolded Travis in an armhold) is the serious thug who knows some martial arts moves. The only actors in the movie worth watching are Sheila Ryan as Ginny and Lyle Talbot as a cop. The film, which didn't have much steam to start with, stops dead in its tracks for a country/western number by a TV band. The background score is played primarily on an organ, like in an old soap opera. In the final shot, Travis looks right at the camera and says, "Confucius say, when hero captures crook, time for picture to end." Finally: 1) this is NOT a noir; 2) there is no mask, of a dragon or otherwise. [DVD]

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

TARZAN’S REVENGE (1938)

Mr. and Mrs. Reed and their daughter Eleanor are on safari in Africa, hoping to take some live animals back to place in zoos, while Eleanor's fianc√© Nevin is killing crocodiles on the river. The wealthy Ben Alleu Bey comes on to Eleanor, though she thoroughly rebuffs him. When Eleanor falls and gets stuck in the riverbank mud, Nevin wrings his wussy hands while Tarzan comes swinging in to help her. Safari guide Olaf, a burly guy with a facial twitch, eggs the group on to find the rare white crocodile, leading them toward Bey's palace in the jungle. After some adventures with lions and chimps, Eleanor is snatched by Bey's men, Nevin proves again to be the non-heroic type, and Tarzan again comes to her rescue.  This is an "unofficial" entry in the Tarzan series, made not by MGM but as an indie production by Sol Lesser, so instead of Johnny Weissmuller, Tarzan is played by Glenn Morris (pictured), an Olympic decathlon champ. Morris is a bit goofy looking and a little wooden but serviceable. Swimming champ Eleanor Holm is his leading lady who decides to stay in the jungle with Tarzan at the end. Neither one ever starred in a movie again. There's a good supporting cast including George Barbier as Dad, Hedda Hopper as Mom, C. Henry Gordon as the slimy Bey, George Meeker as the wimpy—and eventually villainous—Nevin, and Joe Sawyer as Olaf. The budget for this was lower than for the MGM films, but the palace sequence is quite impressive, with elaborate sets and a dancing-girls number. Quite watchable with adjusted expectations. [TCM]

Sunday, August 11, 2013

THE PERILS OF PAULINE (1933)

This is not the legendary silent serial from 1914 which most famously featured its put-upon title heroine tied to railroad tracks; it's not even a remake (even though it has a speeding train behind its title card), it just uses the title of the original attached to a completely different character and plot. Still, this is a top-notch 12-chapter serial. Prof. Hargrave, his daughter Pauline, and his scaredy-cat secretary Dodge are in the Orient searching for the other half of a broken ceramic disc with contains the formula to a poison gas which has been responsible for the destruction of entire ancient civilizations. Hargrave wants to find it, test it to see if it works, and give the formula to the government for safe keeping, but the evil Dr. Bashan and his henchman Fang are hot on his trail, wanting the gas for their own nefarious purposes. Handsome American architect Robert Warde, out of a job because a local civil war, saves Pauline from being kidnapped and ends up tagging along on their quest. After finding the disc half in a Chinese temple, they discover that the disc only has instructions for finding the actual formula on another disc. Hargrave's group, always trailed by Bashan's, goes to Egypt, Singapore, and New York City in search of the disc. Each 20-minute chapter ends with a cliffhanger in which someone, usually Pauline, is in danger from Bashan and his men; the next chapter shows them getting saved, usually by Warde, and moving on to the next temple or jungle or museum where more trouble awaits.

Unlike many of the later serials, this was made by a big studio, Universal, and the first few chapters are much better made than the average B-studio serial. Well-integrated stock footage makes the tumult of the war-torn village effective, and the Tsai Tsin Temple scenes are exciting. From there, things slow down a bit as the formula kicks in: Hargrave's gang finds something; Bashan just misses getting it and plots to steal it from them later. There's a typhoon at sea, a rafting expedition down a jungle river with a dangerous leopard up in the trees, and marauding natives and animals, all run-of-the-mill scenarios for serials. In the last few chapters, a spooky museum and a raging fire in a Manhattan building allow the pace to pick up again, leading to a tidy ending, not just for Hargrave but for Pauline and Warde as well.

At the beginning, Pauline appears to be a girl who can take care of herself, shooting and killing at least one attacker, but eventually she mostly gets in trouble, screams really loud (almost as though she'd heard Pee-Wee Herman’s word of the day), and gets saved by Warde. Evalyn Knapp is adequate but no more as Pauline, though Craig Reynolds (acting under the name Robert Allen, pictured abpve left with Knapp) is fine as Warde. John Davidson, who spent much of the rest of his career as a serial villain, looks evil enough as Bashan (above right), but never gets the chance to bust loose with any over-the-top evil attitude. A British comic actor named Sonny Ray (at left) has the thankless role of Dodge, the cowardly comic relief. He's OK, just used too often—at least once a chapter, he has to shriek or flail or generally mince around with his ass stuck out. His best moment, in Chapter 9, is in the museum where he falls into a plaster trough and comes out looking (and walking) like a mummy. Hargrave (James Durkin) is occasionally referred to as Hargraves and even Hargreaves, sometimes within the same scene. Also with Pat O'Malley as a helpful pilot and Frank Lackteen as the scary-looking Fang. If you've never seen a serial, this might be a good one to start with.  [TCM]




Friday, August 09, 2013

FANTASTIC ARGOMAN (1967)

aka THE INCREDIBLE PARIS INCIDENT   

Here's something different: a movie that combines the superhero and secret agent genres. We first see Argoman, a slightly dumpy masked guy in yellow and black tights, on a mission for the Soviet Union. When he's attacked by two camps of villains, he uses his telepathic powers to get them to kill each other and he escapes, getting a snuff box used by Peter the Great as payment. In his alter-ego as playboy spy Sir Reginald Hoover, he is called upon by Scotland Yard to get back the royal Crown of St. Edward which has been stolen by someone who signs her notes "Jenabell, Queen of the World." It turns out that what she's really after is a gigantic one-of-a kind jewel which has immense powers of its own. What follows is a series of encounters between Argoman, the Queen of the World, and her henchmen. The DVD print is faded and splicy, and the moviemaking itself is lackluster. The problems begin with the tone: lazy camp with no real visual or narrative flair. Roger Browne, as Hoover/Argoman, is boring when out of costume, and a low-rent Adam West-as-Batman when in costume. His character has some promise—he stole the Mona Lisa, he loses his powers for six hours if he has sex—but is neither consistent nor consistently funny. Dominique Boschero is unmemorable as the Queen of the World, though I do like her green glittery outfit with a headdressy helmet. Eduardo Fajardo is OK as Chandra, Hoover's butler/sidekick (pictured with Browne). Whether the problem was a too-low budget or too-paltry imagination, this just doesn't work. Mystery Science Theater 3000 really should have gotten their hands on this one. [DVD]

Monday, August 05, 2013

HARPER (1966)

Detective Lew Harper (Paul Newman) is living in his small office because his wife (Janet Leigh) is divorcing him. He takes on a case for the rich invalid Mrs. Sampson (Lauren Bacall); her husband is missing and, though she doesn't necessarily want him back, she suspects he's shacked up with a woman and wants to who he's with. Either way, the family wants to avoid involving the police, but soon a ransom note arrives. This straightforward detective thriller (not really a film noir despite having a set-up like the film of THE BIG SLEEP—even featuring Bacall, that movie's star) moves through its predictable paces, and what makes it watchable are the interesting characters, mostly red herrings, and actors playing them: Shelley Winters as an alcoholic former movie star who was the latest in a string of Sampson's mistresses; Arthur Hill as the family lawyer and old buddy of Harper's, who may not be completely trustworthy; Pamela Tiffin as Bacall's sexy stepdaughter, Robert Wagner as the family driver and pilot who may be engaged in a dalliance with Tiffin, Julie Harris as a drug-addicted jazz singer and former mistress of Sampson's, and Stother Martin as a new age guru. Newman is fine as the laid-back gumshoe, kind of a very mellow but still manly Sam Spade (and sexy as hell even when he's supposed to be scuzzy and unclean first thing in the morning, as in the above picture), but both Bacall and Leigh are underused. The visual and narrative styles are rather flat, so at two hours, it wears out its welcome, but the last minute—a very 60s touch—is worth sticking around for. Based on a book by crime writer Ross Macdonald—in the book, the character is named Lew Archer. [TCM]

Friday, August 02, 2013

THE DIAMOND WIZARD (1954)

A million dollars is stolen from the U.S. Treasury and a Federal agent on the case in Minneapolis is killed by two British men who are trying to sell synthetic diamonds as real ones. Scotland Yard is worried that a glut of the diamonds, which test as real, could destroy the South African economy. American Dennis O'Keefe, a friend of the dead agent, is called in to work with Scotland Yard on the case. The only clue they have is that one of the killers has eyes of two different colors. By coincidence, O'Keefe meets up with Margaret Sheridan, who is looking for her missing father, a scientist who worked on the H-bomb. It turns out that her dad's latest hobby is working with diamonds. Sure enough, her father is being held captive by crooks who are forcing him to create these new diamonds. The first half of this B-thriller, made in England and directed by leading man O'Keefe, is slow going—too many scenes of people standing around in offices exchanging information. But things pick up nicely in the last 20 minutes after Sheridan is abducted by the bad guys, and during a chase sequence, there's a well-shot scene on an escalator (pictured). A little more of that visual style would have been welcome. O'Keefe is a fine hero; the rest of the cast is rather colorless except for a nice turn by Alan Wheatley as a diamond dealer. If you can get through the slow first half, it's decent viewing. (Netflix streaming)