Years before Menahem Golan launched Cannon films specializing in many forms of exploitation cinema he directed this odd entry in the careers of both Audie Murphy and George Sanders. Rather ironically, Golan’s film was picked up for release by AIP which was in itself a company that dealt with exploitation cinema.
Spy films were all the rage in the sixties and were being produced in large numbers. A few great ones, plenty of good ones and an astounding number of the not so good. While this falls in the latter category, Audie does his best here in a film that at times plays to his action oriented reputation.
Audie plays a supposed lab assistant of sorts on his way to meet up and work with Sanders. Sanders has been hired by Egypt to create a nuclear weapon to use against Israel. Audie is hardly off the plane before two assassination attempts are aimed in his direction. Not only that but he seems to have captured the heart of Sander’s daughter Marianne Koch in the first ten minutes of the film.
Sanders quickly introduces Audie to his “pride and joy.” A missile getting close to completion. On one hand Audie is seen to be protecting Sanders and company from bombers attempting to take down George and his operation while on the other Audie goes into stealth mode to sneak back into the lab at night and take down the operation himself.
The plot has surely thickened.
The violence escalates when Audie goes into undercover action and is quickly “outed” by Sanders who refuses to listen to reason. Audie quickly finds himself on the run with few options open to him. Even the underground who have been trying to take out Sanders themselves refuse him asylum and would much prefer his death.
Cue the silly soundtrack as the film takes a right hand turn down the stretch towards bumbling comedy that just doesn’t fit. One almost expects Tony Randall and Terry-Thomas to turn up mixing their satire Bang Bang, You’re Dead into this failing espionage yarn that just doesn’t seem to want to end.
Can Audie either convince Sanders to defect to the forces of good along with his daughter Koch or will Audie have to put a bullet in the grumpy old cad? Since this is a rather rare title of Audie’s you may have a hard time finding out. I’m not getting any younger and I’ve just finally caught up with this one myself. It had been featured on TCM a while back and thankfully my PVR system didn’t let me down.
Aside from Battle at Bloody Beach, this was Audie’s only non-western film of the decade that saw him retire from films before his untimely death in 1971. While it’s far from his heyday he still retains a calm presence on screen and still looks well suited to the action sequences. For a great read on Audie be sure to check out No Name on the Bullet.
Sanders would remain busy in various films beneath his talent right up to his demise in ’72 though he did leave us with a large number of credits to his name. Credits that generally make him an actor easy to root against with his pompous attitude that just seemed too real to be totally an act. Still, he’s usually a bonus to any of the features he did lend his name to.
As an Audie fan I was bound to finally catch this title though I know it’s low on his list of credits making it essentially a curio for fans of Audie, Sanders and the spy film genre in general.
Never seen this, Mike, even though I’m another fan of Murphy and Sanders. It doesn’t sound like it works all that well but I’ll still be keeping an eye out for it.
As a completest I guess I had to finally check into it though it’s not nearly as inept as I had been led to believe. Just not a high point for either star and probably just served as a paycheck.
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