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Foreign Intrigue (1956)

“Did he say anything before he died?”

That’s the key question posed to press agent Robert Mitchum who has been fronting for a wealthy man with a mysterious past living on the French Riviera. Mitchum comes across his employer in his study just as he exhales his final breath dying of a stroke in Mitch’s arms. Seems simple enough and the trophy wife played by Genevieve Page who once had a past romance with our sleepy eyed leading man finds herself a wealthy woman who doesn’t want the money trail to stop now that she’s without her millionaire sugar daddy.

In a matter of minutes on screen, Mitch gets the same question from three different people as to the dying man’s last words leading to a mystery only a man of Mitchum’s Noir background will be up to the challenge of unravelling. When a lawyer in Vienna calls Mitchum and wants to know if foul play is suspected, the plot intensifies. Seems that if his death is suspicious than the lawyer is to open an envelope and carry out it’s instructions. If death occurred by natural causes, then the letter is to be destroyed. Mitch is quickly off to Vienna to see the lawyer before anything happens to the sealed envelope.

Grabbing on to his trusty Noir trench coat, Mitchum is about to learn that someone else is one step ahead of him. The lawyer is dead and the envelope is missing. Worse still is the cleaning lady sees Mitch hiding out in the dead man’s office and screams. Mitch is now on the run towards those dimly lit alleys that he’s so accustomed to while being pursued by both the police and local witnesses. Thankfully Frederick O’Brady is on hand to help with the getaway. Of course O’Brady has motives of his own.

The pair will team up though it’s an uneasy alliance. O’Brady let’s Mitch in on some of the details involved with the mysterious letter but not who he’s working for. If ever a role cried out for Peter Lorre, this is it and to be honest O’Brady does a great job here in the role of a conniving little bald headed man that is likable but not to be trusted. When he pulls a gun on Mitch and gets KO’d for his treachery, his response is so Peter Lorre, “Why did you hit me?” or when questioned about the weapon again it’s as if Dear Peter is responding, “A man’s got to learn to protect himself in today’s world. It’s really a jungle, you know. ”

Into the story comes romance for “The Mitch” by way of the Swedish dish, Ingrid Thulin. The trail has led Mitch to Stockholm and her father who though dead is somehow connected to the missing envelope. Meeting Ingrid puts the mystery on hold so the pair can frolic in the beautiful European scenery bringing the far off and exotic locales to viewers in North America. In color no less as the film poster proudly points out.

Espionage is right around the next shadowy corner for Mitchum giving the fans a taste of violence one would expect from a Robert Mitchum script. Mitch being a man of action is up to the task and when the time comes for the fadeout you’re bound to be surprised at just who Mitch is walking away from the camera with as the credits roll.

Intrigue was written, produced and directed by Sheldon Reynolds who also had a hand in a TV show of the same name that ran from 1951 through to 1955. The film was his first foray into big screen adventures. Robert Mitchum sandwiched this title in between a pair of westerns, Man With the Gun and Bandido.

Seeing Intrigue on the recent Kino Lorber blu ray release allowed me to revisit it after a number of years to the point that it was really like watching it for the first time all over again. That’s always a pleasure when it comes to seeing a Mitchum film. For those who visit frequently, you know I’m a big fan. So much so that I always refer to him as the real “king of cool.” Again it should come as no surprise that I have the original one sheet poster thanks to a recent purchase of about 100 classic one sheets from yesteryear. Note Ingrid Thulin’s billing on the one sheet as Ingrid Tulean.

For more classic images of Mitchum on film posters, check these out. 

6 Comments »

  1. I’ll watch pretty much anything with Mitchum too, even the dull and plain bad stuff. This is a movie that was hard to see fro ages and therefore one I kind of built up in my mind. I’ve not seen the Blu-ray so don’t know if the improved transfer adds much to it. To be honest though, I found the film pretty underwhelming – Mitchum is fine and the locations are nice but the story isn’t all that involving, and some of the characters are quite cardboard.
    The whole affair has a neat premise and is attractively presented but it didn’t deliver for me. OK, but a bit forgettable in the end.

    • It’s far from the best Mitch has to offer and I think the surrounding cast and production are not befitting a man of his status at the time. Still I kind of like it and never play spoiler when reviewing but had this been a big hit a follow up would have been necessary. Had it been in black and white it might have fit the Mitchum/’Noir mystique better overall in our recollections.

      • Yes, it does fit that spy noir template and its ending actually feels like a pilot for a TV show to me, which seems kind of appropriate given the movie’s origins.
        I don’t flat out dislike it, but it did disappoint me.

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