Monday, November 03, 2014


A French military intelligence man is found dead on a beach in Algiers. He was part of an operation trying to find 100 million dollars of gold which was stolen from the French government; during the war, they shipped their gold to several locations in North Africa for safe keeping, but one transport was hijacked and never found. A spy discovers that the French have hired an American to help out, and when Mike Canelli (George Raft) stops in Algiers on his back home from Cairo, he is mistaken by all parties for the real spy, Charles Stark. It turns out that Mike has a connection to the affair: he was stationed in North Africa during the war. Everyone is looking for Emil Duchard, a man with only four fingers on his right hand, the only survivor of the heist gang. Duchard, hunted by good guys and bad guys both, manages to make a sound recording in which he names the man who has the gold; he gets the record delivered to a woman named Yvonne, who is in Emil's hotel room, but is killed immediately after; later that night, Yvonne is murdered in her bathtub. Her friend Lorraine and her buddy, handsome nightclub owner Basil, get hold of the record, so everyone goes after them, including Mike, who falls for her big time.

That about as much of the plot as I could follow in this convoluted, slow-moving, low-budget crime thriller which, with its exotic nightclub setting, was trying desperately to grab a little bit of CASABLANCA cachet. I don't typically care for Raft and he's particularly tired and wooden here. Despite the fact that most of the characters are French, most of the actors are Italian and are all dubbed by English-speaking actors. Gianna Maria Canale is fine as Lorraine, though when she says she loves Mike, she is so unconvincing, I laughed out loud; Italian matinee idol Messimo Serato is memorable in his limited role as the club owner. The great stage actress Irene Papas has the small role of Yvonne. It's a little comical how hard the actor who plays the four-fingered gent keeps trying to hide his thumb. The sets look good, but the narrative lacks drive; people keep talking about everything that's going on, but little of it occurs on screen. I fell asleep during this one three times, and each time I dutifully backed the film up to catch what I missed, but I think my sleeping instincts were right. The print on the VCI DVD is very good, but no matter what the DVD cover says, this is not a film noir, and unless you're a Raft fan, I can't recommend it. [DVD]

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