The Double Man (1967)


Directed by Franklin J Schaeffner
Yul Brynner, Britt Ekland, Clive Revill, Moira Lister, Anton Diffring
Music by Ernest Freeman

In East Germany, Berthold (Anton Diffring) meets some high ranking communist officials to hatch a plan to capture one of the C.I.A.s top, operatives, Dan Slater (Yul Brynner). The officials give the go ahead and one week later the plan is in operation.

In the skiing village, St Anton, in the Austrian Alps, a sixteen year old boy dies in a dizzying ski accident after he falls off a cliff on the dangerous Buler Run. The boys name is Robert Slater and he had been staying and studying at an international school run by Frank Wheatley (Clive Revill). Wheatley is an ex M.I.5 agent, and he sends a telegram to Dan Slater in Washington stating that his son has been killed.

Without further ado, Slater is on a plane and a train to St Anton. He arrives just in time for the funeral. As soon as the service is over, Slater prepares to head back to Washington. On the train, while retrieving a bottle of whiskey from his luggage, Slater discovers his sons ski jacket tucked inside. Upon examination he notices two bloody holes in the jacket. They appear to be about the same size as the prongs on skiing poles. Slater surmises that Robert was pushed and murdered. At the next train station, Slater gets off the train and catches a taxi back up the mountain to Wheatley’s school.

Slater is relentless in his pursuit of the truth. He soon ascertains that two men and a woman went up in the cable car to the top of the run on the fateful morning. He finds that the girl was Gina Erikson (Britt Ekland), and he follows her as she goes skiing. Initially she thinks he is an old womaniser who fancies his chances with a young blonde, and she is evasive. But finally he slowly wins her over and finagles an invitation to a party that night. The party is being held by wealthy, middle aged, Charlotte Carrington, who happens to be Gina’s employer.

At the party, Slater questions Gina about the events of that morning in the cable car. She says that one was wearing a ski mask so she couldn’t see his face. The other had blonde hair.

Also at the party is Berthold and his team. So far they have been stage managing and manipulating events and Slater. Here, they deliberately allow Gina to see the blonde headed man, Max Gruner (George Mikell). Of course, Gina tells Slater, and then Slater follows Gruner to the Balma Farm, where he hopes to get some answers.

With a title like The Double Man, you can expect a ‘look-a-like’ of Slater to turn up sooner or later, and it’s not too hard to guess what his purpose is. In general, the plot does not hold many surprises. Your enjoyment will come from your appreciation of Brynner’s performance. And he not an easy character to like. He is rude, aggressive and does not trust anyone. Even those that are trying to help him are treated shabbily. It’s this very trait that makes him so good at his job, and ultimately leads to his survival at the end of the movie.

The Double Man is a good spy film, but not a happy one, and light years away in tone from a Bond film. There’s no likeable hero to travel with through the wintry landscape .Even the villains are low-key. There’s no underground lair or secret weapon to be retrieved. The story is about people – and not very nice people at that. I recommend this film to hard core spy enthusiasts; but for those looking for a light hearted adventure, I suggest you skip this one.

The Double Man (1967)

The Double Man (1967)

Director: Franklin J Schaeffner
Starring: Yul Brynner, Britt Ekland, Clive Revill, Moira Lister, Anton Diffring
Music: Ernest Freeman

In East Germany, Berthold (Anton Diffring) meets some high ranking communist officials to hatch a plan to capture one of the C.I.A.s top, operatives, Dan Slater (Yul Brynner). The officials give the go ahead and one week later the plan is in operation.

In the skiing village, St Anton, in the Austrian Alps, a sixteen year old boy dies in a dizzying ski accident after he falls off a cliff on the dangerous Buler Run. The boys name is Robert Slater and he had been staying and studying at an international school run by Frank Wheatley (Clive Revill). Wheatley is an ex M.I.5 agent, and he sends a telegram to Dan Slater in Washington stating that his son has been killed.

Without further ado, Slater is on a plane and a train to St Anton. He arrives just in time for the funeral. As soon as the service is over, Slater prepares to head back to Washington. On the train, while retrieving a bottle of whiskey from his luggage, Slater discovers his sons ski jacket tucked inside. Upon examination he notices two bloody holes in the jacket. They appear to be about the same size as the prongs on skiing poles. Slater surmises that Robert was pushed and murdered. At the next train station, Slater gets off the train and catches a taxi back up the mountain to Wheatley’s school.

Slater is relentless in his pursuit of the truth. He soon ascertains that two men and a woman went up in the cable car to the top of the run on the fateful morning. He finds that the girl was Gina Erikson (Britt Ekland), and he follows her as she goes skiing. Initially she thinks he is an old womaniser who fancies his chances with a young blonde, and she is evasive. But finally he slowly wins her over and finagles an invitation to a party that night. The party is being held by wealthy, middle aged, Charlotte Carrington, who happens to be Gina’s employer.

At the party, Slater questions Gina about the events of that morning in the cable car. She says that one was wearing a ski mask so she couldn’t see his face. The other had blonde hair.

Also at the party is Berthold and his team. So far they have been stage managing and manipulating events and Slater. Here, they deliberately allow Gina to see the blonde headed man, Max Gruner (George Mikell). Of course, Gina tells Slater, and then Slater follows Gruner to the Balma Farm, where he hopes to get some answers.
With a title like The Double Man, you can expect a ‘look-a-like’ of Slater to turn up sooner or later, and it’s not too hard to guess what his purpose is. In general, the plot does not hold many surprises. Your enjoyment will come from your appreciation of Brynner’s performance. And he not an easy character to like. He is rude, aggressive and does not trust anyone. Even those that are trying to help him are treated shabbily. It’s this very trait that makes him so good at his job, and ultimately leads to his survival at the end of the movie.

The Double Man is a good spy film, but not a happy one, and light years away in tone from a Bond film. There’s no likable hero to travel with through the wintry landscape. Even the villains are low-key. There’s no underground lair or secret weapon to be retrieved. The story is about people – and not very nice people at that. I recommend this film to hard core spy enthusiasts; but for those looking for a light hearted adventure, I suggest you skip this one.

The Double Man (1967)

The 1000 Eyes Of Dr. Mabuse (1960)


AKA: Diabolical Dr. Mabuse , Eyes of Evil, The Shadow vs. the Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse
Directed by Fritz lang
Peter Van Eyck, Dawn Addams, Wolfgang Preiss, Lupo Prezzo, Gert Frobe, Werner Peters, Andrea Checci, Christiane Maybach, Howard Vernon
Music by Gerhard Becker and Bert Grund

The 1000 Eyes Of Dr. Mabuse was legendary director Fritz Lang’s last film. While making this film his sight began to fail. The film was also the beginning of a new series of Mabuse films, but with each instalment the series slowly deteriorated.

First a little bit of background on Dr. Mabuse. Mabuse was a character created in the early 20th Century by author Norbert Jacques. In 1922, Lang took the character and made two silent epic films, The Great Gambler and Inferno (Generally this two part series in lumped together as Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler). The films featured Rudolph Klein-Rogge as Mabuse, who is a master criminal, in the style of Fantomas or Fu Manchu. In 1933 Lang made another Mabuse film, The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse also starring Klein-Rogge. With the rise of the Nazi party, Lang left Germany and headed to the United States where his movie career continued. Decades later, although he refused to live there, Lang returned to Germany to make his final entry in the Mabuse series – The 1000 Eyes Of Dr. Mabuse.

The film opens with two cars pulling up at a red traffic light in downtown Berlin. In one of the cars is Peter Barter, a television reporter. He is rushing back to the studio with an important ‘breaking’ story. In the other car are two of Mabuse’s henchmen. From a violin case, one of the men produces a futuristic gun. He takes aim at Barter and shoots. With barely a sound, a fine needle is fired into Barter’s brain. Barter slumps over the steering wheel dead.

Simultaneously, Peter Cornelius (Wolfgang Preiss), a blind psychic, has a premonition of the murder and phones Inspector Krause (Gert Frobe) in an attempt to warn him, but is too late. The crime has all the hallmarks and style of crimes committed by Dr. Mabuse, but this can not be because Mabuse has been dead since the 1930’s. But there is still a crime to be solved and it appears to be centred around the Luxor Hotel. It it the last place that Barter had been seen alive. Co-incidently (?), over the last ten years, a series of unsolved crimes, thefts and murder have had one thing in common. All of the victims have stayed at the Luxor.

Currently staying at the Luxor is Henry B. Travers (Peter Van Eyck). He is a wealthy American industrialist who has just purchased an atomic rocket contract. Outside his window, on the ledge is Marion Menil (Dawn Addams). She is distressed and about to commit suicide. Travers goes to the window and calmly talks her inside. It appears Marion is very unstable. It is not long before her doctor arrives, Professor Jordan. He gives her a sedative and takes her away.

Meanwhile, Inspector Krause is on the case. The driver of the assassin’s vehicle has called Krause and says he will call again with vital information. But the stooley is killed by one of Mabuse’s men. The telephone call is still made to Krause, because a bomb has been planted in his phone. The phone rings, but Krause’s assistant picks it up and is killed in the explosion.

With very few clues to go on, Klause turns to Cornelius, the psychic for help. Cornelius arranges a séance, and Krause invites the few suspects he has as participants. As the lights are dimmed, Cornelius starts channelling. He says that Dr. Mabuse is behind the crimes. Before any further information is revealed, the window is shattered as a bullet from outside hits Krause’s chair. It’s a close call. While stylistically very different, it is interesting to compare this séance scene with the one in Lang’s Ministry Of Fear, which I reviewed a few weeks ago.

Who and what are The 1000 Eyes Of Dr. Mabuse? They are not the evil minions of Mabuse (as in The Million Eyes Of Sumuru), but refer to a sophisticated closed circuit surveillance system that Mabuse has set up in the Hotel Luxor. After watching and stage managing events throughout the Hotel, by manipulating Travers, Mabuse plans to obtain the nuclear arsenal being constructed, and of course, rule, control or destroy the world. And that brings us to Mabuse himself. Who is or claims to be Mabuse? Ahhh, that would be telling. The 1000 Eyes Of Dr. Mabuse is a bit of a ‘whodunnit’. Could Mabuse be nosey insurance salesman Hieronymus P. Mistelzweig (Werner Peters), Peter Cornelius the psychic, Professor Jordan (a man who specialises in mental disorders), or Marion’s obsessively jealous clubfooted husband. It could be any of them. Rarely has a film had so many characters who are not as they seem.

The film has some good ideas that would be recycled in espionage movies in years to come. I have already mentioned the closed circuit television system. But the needle gun used in the opening scene reminds me of a similar scene in Live And Let Die, and the getaway car that Mabuse uses to escape from the police has revolving number plates, a idea that would be utilised in the Aston Martin in Goldfinger.

Ultimately The 1000 Eyes Of Dr. Mabuse is a good film; but I wouldn’t say it’s a great film. It has some memorable scenes, and as with all of Lang’s work there is some very impressive set design, especially the home of Peter Cornelius, whose walls are decorated with three dimensional astrological symbols. But the plot is a bit convoluted. Sure Mabuse is a criminal genius, but he seems to interfere with his own scheme way too often. Maybe that’s the characters madness coming through, but I think it may be poor story telling. And as a ‘whodunnit’, well I am pretty hopeless at guessing the culprit in this type of film – but I got it straight away (and so did my 11 year old son) – so it isn’t too effective on that level.

I am sounding a bit negative, but that is because this is a Lang film. This film is better than it’s sequels The Return Of Dr. Mabuse and The Invisible Dr. Mabuse which I reviewed in June, but it is a step down from some of the other Lang films I have looked at – Spies in August, and The Ministry Of Fear in October.

The 1000 Eyes Of Dr. Mabuse (1960)

Crossplot (1969)


Directed by Alvin Rakoff
Roger Moore, Claudie Lange, Martha Hyer, Alexis Kanner, Derek Francis, Dudley Sutton, Bernard Lee
Music by Stanley Black
Song, ‘I’ll Find My Love’, performed by John Rowles
Song, ‘Westminster Bridge’, performed by Lois Lane

Don’t be fooled by the poster on the left. Crossplot is not a Saint film despite the logo above Roger Moore’s name. This is simply to cash in on Moore’s popularity in that role, for a foreign market. But Crossplot was put together by the same team behind The Saint television series, and as such is often accused of being ‘too small screen’, rather than a BIG screen movie adventure. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. I see a sixties movie with a decidedly ‘mod’ feel – it has garish colours, an outrageous fashion sense, and a generous supply of girls in mini-skirts. Maybe the film does have a bit too much rear projection, but give me rear projection over crap CGI any day.

The film is set in London, where all good sixties swinging takes place. It is early morning, and a couple are strolling across a deserted Westminster Bridge, with the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in the background. A black car pulls up behind them. Two men get out. The car then drives forward, ahead of the couple. It stops and more men get out. The girl is oblivious to the danger, but the man begins to panic realising that he has been boxed in.

At that moment a Mini Moke packed with party revellers drives by. The man stops the vehicle and pushes the girl on board. But before he can get on board, the car takes off. Running alongside, he quickly hands over his newspaper to the girl, and the car takes off. Stranded and alone now, the men on either side close in on him. The solitary man ends up being heaved over the side of the bridge where he lands on a barge, dead.

Roger Moore , post The Saint/ pre-Bond, is Gary Fenn, an advertising executive. He arrives at work late, which seems to be a common occurrence due to late night clubbing and womanising. He sneaks into his office using a window washing trolley. The company is in a spin, because they have to make a pitch to a new client, and Fenn is the cornerstone in landing the account. In the boardroom as Fenn lays out his ideas, Frank Warren (Dudley Sutton), another company employee, sneaks in and changes the 8 x 10 photo of the model that has been selected for the campaign. Fenn makes his pitch and the client likes it. But Fenn has presented the wrong model to his client. Now he is stuck with her, and has the unenviable task of tracking this mystery woman down.

The girl is Marla Kougash (Claudie Lange), a Hungarian model who has over stayed her visa, and is now in hiding. Through the photos style, lighting, shadows etc, Fenn tracks down the photographer, and then acquires an address for Marla. She lives on a houseboat. Fenn finds the boat, and finds Marla but doesn’t receive much of a reception. She pushes him into the muddy river. Finally he convinces her that he is not from the immigration department and that he wants to offer her a job as a model. And he can fix up her visa problems too. She agrees to the deal.

Fenn leaves the houseboat only to be blackjacked by some friends of Marla’s. When Fenn wakes up, he is behind the wheel of his sports car. Embarrassingly though, the car happens to have been driven through the front window and display of a prominent department store. Added to this a joint sits smouldering in the cars ashtray. As the police arrive, Fenn’s story is not too convincing, and he is arrested.

Once released on bail, Fenn finally gets marla into the photo studio, and in front of a camera. Warren, the guy who substituted the photo in the first instance, works as a scenic artist and props guy. During a break in the photo session, Warren takes Marla up to the roof for a coffee. It’s here that he tries to push her over the edge. He is thwarted at the last second by Fenn. Warren runs. Fenn chases.

On the street now, the foot chase continues. A car moves alongside them, and the black leather gloved passenger produces a pistol. But rather than shoot Fenn, he shoots Warren in the back, and then tosses the gun out of the car window to Fenn, who foolishly catches it. Now his finger prints are on the weapon. The car speeds off and Fenn is left holding the evidence for all the world to see. The setup is pure Hitchcock, and the scene reminds me of the bit in North By Northwest in the United Nation building, where Cary Grant is found holding a knife over a dead body. Crossplot shares a few other similarities with the Hitchcock classic, but I won’t spoil it for you.

I found Crossplot to be very enjoyable. As I mentioned earlier the film utilises a large amount of rear projection and features a lot of studio bound shots. The film probably was done a bit on the cheap side, and looks artificial, but on a television screen I don’t think it’s too distracting.

Crossplot does seem to be neglected compared to some of Moore’s other work, but if you are a Moore fan, the film is well worth seeking out. I found it on late night television and expected very little, but got quite a thrilling, fast paced 96 minutes of entertainment. Recommended.

Crossplot (1969)