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Blindfold (1966)

With Cary Grant retiring, Rock Hudson steps into this very Grant like role that sees the popular leading man tangling with spies, generals and best of all, Claudia Cardinale.

In this espionage effort with a slant towards comedy from writer-director Philip Dunne, Rock is a big city psychiatrist who finds himself caught up with spies and not sure which side to trust. He’s drawn into the covert world when approached by Jack Warden posing as a military general incognito. He needs Rock’s help with a patient he treated six years previously (Alejandro Rey) who has had a nervous breakdown. The problem is he’s a scientist of value to both sides. One can only assume that means us and the Russians. Rock lends a hand but has to be whisked off by jet plane nightly and blindfolded as he makes his way to the safe house that looks to be in the everglades known here as Base X.

There’s the meaning behind the title of the movie released by Universal.

So while Rock is jetting off in the evenings, he’s still trying to run a medical practice by day. Things are going to be severely complicated when Claudia turns up hunting for her missing brother. She’ll find Rock’s most recent file on Rey and take it to the police claiming Rey is being held against his will. Detective Brad Dexter takes note and will turn up a bit later in the plot when Rock least expects it. General Warden wants everything kept quiet and through an attempt at screwball comedy, Rock announces to the press awaiting his release from police headquarters that Claudia is his latest fiancé. You see Rock’s a man about town and has had seven high profile engagements but has yet to tie the knot.

To put it bluntly, Jack Warden is fuming so hard, his face is matching his mop of red hair. When Guy Stockwell approaches Rock claiming to be with the C.I.A. he casts a suspicious light upon Warden and Rock isn’t so sure he’s helping our side or theirs when treating his patient. On the plus side, Cardinale has taken a shine to the big guy and believes him when he tells her that her brother is in no danger at present.

Rock will find out Warden is indeed the real deal and obeys orders when Warden takes him of the case due to his now high profile engagement covered in the papers to go-go dancer Cardinale. Yes she looks mighty good in that tight fitting dance get up that prominently displays her figure. When Rock’s pal and replacement Ted Knight is left for dead, Hudson fears that Stockwell has taken Knight’s place and is off to meet Warden and transport Rey overseas to the enemy. The problem is he has no idea where Base X is located and along with the gorgeous Claudia will have to piece together all the sounds and turns he experiences while blindfolded and being taken to the top secret location.

Yes Rock’s mild mannered psychoanalyst is going to have to play the hero and claim the fair maiden by the fade out which comes at the 102 minute mark.

Easy to enjoy but this is no North By Northwest though it’s clearly aiming that way. Hence my Cary Grant comment at the opening of this take on Blindfold. The big issue is that the comedy is too forced at times. Maybe it should have played it straight?

Hudson and Cardinale work well together and adding Jack Warden to the mix has to be considered a plus. As a matter of fact any film that the crochety Warden appears in is easily a better movie with him than without. Even lesser titles. Another actor that turns up in Blindfold as Claudia’s Uncle is Vito Scotti. Another well known “face” that has been known to steal a scene or two when given the opportunity. Here he produces mannequins for lingerie stores and wouldn’t you know it, his inspiration for the mannequins is Miss Cardinale.

Magnificent Seven alumni, Brad Dexter, was back to smaller roles for the balance of his career unlike the other six actors in the western classic. Still, he’s another character player that can be counted on to turn in good work no matter the film or genre he found himself in.

1966 was the year Claudia Cardinale found herself in a succession of big screen films with a who’s who list of Hollywood leading men. Rock, Anthony Quinn in Lost Command and she’s the kidnap victim that sends “The Professionals” into action. They include Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan and Woody Strode. Blindfold not only represents the final film for the director Dunne but also draws to an end the era of Rock Hudson’s lighthearted romantic films. Aside from one more film with Claudia in 1969, A Fine Pair, Hudson would move into more male oriented films like Tobruk, The Undefeated and Ice Station Zebra for the balance of the decade before TV and McMillan and Wife beckoned in the 70’s.

Blindfold recently turned up on DVD in a collection of Hudson titles that makes for an easy addition to one’s own library of titles.

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