I Saw A Film!
This, all the way back in the Beatle-mania era, is a quite competent little whodunnit and thriller involving big cats, cliffs, sharks and a kind of exotic locale in the form of South Africa. It stars a hunk in the form of Lex Barker playing spy Steve Martin (I almost needed to know if our beloved comic musician writer stole his name!). Barker was apparently something of a polymath in languages and had risen to the rank of major in WWII in the infantry. He played a pile of Tarzan movies, and apparently hard a lot of trouble getting Hollywood action so he did movies all over the world instead. Which is why this interesting character isn’t a household name in America. There are times you’ll think you’re looking at Alec Baldwin!
This film is less a spy film and more a detective drama, however, and Barker basically carries the whole thing on his satisfactory shoulders. He teases about doing some Judo, but we don’t see any, and while he gets to flirt around with a couple of beauties it’s not in the form of the film to give us much of that adult stuff except at poolside where it all seems rather prosaic.
Story is, a wealthy goon is losing old buddies in unusual ways, including his butler in a strangely familiar carnival stabbing, and suspects he’ll be next. First the fellow denies knowing anything about it, but soon enough has to fess up to having been a friend of the recently killed old pal from a photo foolishly kept in an easily reached filing cabinet. And so the hunt is on, at times quite literally.
What impressed me about this old tightly told tale is just how leanly it’s made. Whether or not that makes much sense in a “realism” method I won’t argue for now, but I enjoyed the almost Chandler-esque feel of the thing. It could have been a Marlowe story. Aside from the campy car off the cliff routine (I do wish they’d not litter those beautiful vistas), and the speed at which folks manage to get over first hand death, this is a macho puzzle solver that just satisfies that particular flavor well. I was expecting to be entertained with ineptitude more, but such was not happening. I’m sure my British friends would be able to pound the table about the several great British actors in this thing, but I was not familiar with them despite their excellent delivery.
This runs free on Prime and does what it says on the label.