|DIPLOMATIC COURIER (director: Henry Hathaway; screenwriters: Casey Robinson/from the novel Sinister Errand by Peter Cheyney; cinematographer: Lucien Ballard; editor: James B. Clark; music: Sol Kaplan; cast: Patricia Neal (Joan Ross), Stephen McNally (Colonel Cagle), James Millican (Sam Carew), Hildegard Knef (Janine), Lee Marvin (MP), Tyrone Power (Mike Kells), Karl Malden (Sgt. Ernie Guelvada), Stefan Schnabel (Platov), Arthur Blake (Max Ralli), Herbert Berghof (Arnov), Charles Bronson (Russian Agent), Mario Siletti (Russian Agent; Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Casey Robinson; 20th Century Fox; 1952)|
|"An exciting Cold War espionage
thriller that's well-acted and tautly directly
by Henry Hathaway."
by Dennis Schwartz
exciting Cold War espionage thriller that's well-acted
and tautly directly by Henry Hathaway ("Johnny
Apollo"/"The Dark Corner"/"The House on 92nd Street").
It's based on the novel Sinister Errand by
Peter Cheyney, and is written with some trepidation by
the producer Casey Robinson. Lucien Ballard adds
to the film's pleasures with his beautiful black and
white location photography.
Department of State, on April 9, 1950, through the
orders of the Secretary of State, assigns agent Mike
Kells (Tyrone Power) to be a diplomatic courier and to
meet fellow US agent Sam Carew (James
Millican), assigned behind the Iron
Curtain in Bucharest, on a train in Salzburg, Austria.
Sam is carrying on him a top secret document, the
Semper Project, which has information on the time and
location when the Soviets will invade Yugoslavia. When
Sam is murdered on the train and his body is thrown on
the tracks, Mike can't find the document on him but
contacts Colonel Cagle (Stephen McNally),
base commander of a nearby MP unit, and volunteers to
go to Trieste on the colonel's recommendation that he
needs to go there to locate the mystery Soviet agent
woman on the train, Janine (Hildegard
Knef), who was seen talking with Carew in
his sleeping compartment before he was murdered. The
gung-ho diplomatic courier, Mike, tries to avenge the
death of his close friend and retrieve the important
document, and how he does so is artfully carried out
even if it's only done as just so much cinema fiction.
plot has many twists and spies who turn out to be
double-agents, and also a wealthy American widow, Joan
Ross (Patricia Neal), who keeps turning up in
different locales as the romantic interest to Mike.
Helping Mike stay on his feet is the MP, Sgt. Ernie Guelvada
(Karl Malden), assigned to be his guardian
angel. Danger is always present, as Mike is leery that
two Soviet agents (Charles Bronson and Mario Siletti)
are keeping track of his movements and that wherever
they are seen bad things happen.
It plays out as a fine example of an old-fashioned spy thriller, that slides by with a satisfactory plot despite its many holes that if pondered would make one think twice about the film's worth.
REVIEWED ON 8/11/2014 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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