The Falcon's Adventure (1946)

FalconCountry: United States
Director: William Berke
Starring: Tom Conway, Madge Meredith, Edward S. Brophy, Robert Warwick, Myrna Dell, Steve Brodie, Ian Wolfe
Music: Paul Sawtell
Based on characters created by Michael Arlen

In spy stories, whether it be in books, film or television, there is one formula that gets repeated time and time again. It features a scientist who has invented a design or device that will change the world – you can substitute politician for scientist and information/knowledge for the device or formula. The point being, a man of learning has something that evil forces wish to acquire. This man is either kidnapped or killed at the beginning of the story.

Invariably, this scientist or politician has a beautiful daughter, grand-daughter or niece. She either wants him back, or is entrusted to get the device or plan into the hands of the good guys. Forgive the sexism in the next statement (I’m just reporting what I see and read), but she cannot do this on her own. She needs the assistance of a rugged male to do this. This rugged male can be a spy, but more often than not he is an innocent bystander who just gets drawn into the tangled web of intrigue.

Of course the bad guys come after the girl and the hero and a running battle takes place to ensure that goodness wins out in the end.

This story formula covers about 60% of all Eurospy films made in the ’60s. It was in the Nick Carter film, License to Kill, which I reviewed the other day. But it also in modern fare like The DaVinci Code. But the real heyday for this formula was the old black & white studio B-movies featuring characters such as The Saint, Bulldog Drummond and The Falcon. Which of course, brings me to The Falcon’s Adventure.

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The film opens at the Bradshaw Hotel, and within one of its rooms, the Falcon, Tom Lawrence (Tom Conway) and his pal, Goldie Locke (Edward Brophy) planning a fishing vacation. Goldie makes the Falcon swear that on this trip, he will not get tangled up with any dames – ‘cos we all know ‘dames is trouble’. The Falcon agrees. Armed with fishing rods, they leave their suite, but before they have even made it the length of the hall, the Falcon bumps into a young lady who is leaving her room. The young lady is Louisa Braganza (Madge Meredith), who happens to be the daughter of a Brazilian scientist, who has invented a new formula for creating industrial diamonds. Of course, the Falcon does not know this.

Goldie reminds the Falcon of his vow – no dames! So they head their separate ways. The Falcon and Goldie get into their car with their equipment, while Louisa hails a taxi. However the driver of the cab works for a criminal organisation who are after the formula. She gets in the vehicle, but quickly realises the driver is not taking her to the travel agency as requested, but out onto a country road.

But as the cab overtake the Falcon, Louisa calls for help and signals out the back window. Realising she is in trouble, the Falcon flattens his foot on the accelerator and gives chase. He catches the taxi and forces it off the road. The driver gets out and scarpers into the surrounding undergrowth.

Louisa asks to be taken back to the hotel, which of course, the Falcon does. There he meets Louisa’s father, Enrico Braganza, who explains everything. The formula and the villains after it. Within minutes of that meeting, Enrico Briganza is dead and the Falcon is the prime suspect, with the police hot on his trail. He is also entrusted with the formula, which he has to get safely to Miami.

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Over the film’s short one hour running time, The Falcon’s Adventure packs in a lot of action, albeit, as discussed above, in a predictable and formulaic fashion. But there is still a lot to enjoy – car chases, fist fights, crocodiles, villains to hiss, and a damsel in distress. What’s not to like?

The Falcon's Adventure (1946)

Tiffany Memorandum (1967)

tiffany 3Country: Italy | France | Germany
Director: Sergio Greico (as Terence Hathaway)
Starring: Ken Clark, Irina Demick, Jacques Berthier, Luigi Vannuchi, Gregoire Aslan
Music: Riz Ortolani

The plot for the Tiffany Memorandum is more twisted than a bag of pretzels, with every character, with the exception of the blond haired square jawed hero, Dick Hallan (Ken Clark), presenting as someone different to who they truly are. As for the memorandum of the title, if you analyse the plot, it doesn’t even make sense. There is no memorandum as such – and if you’ll forgive the minor spoiler – the maguffin is a piece of videotape that has been used, like a ribbon, to decorate a negligee designed by Madame Tiffany. Yeah, you’re reading that and thinking I am speaking jibberish. Videotape! Wouldn’t that rub against the skin? As I said, it doesn’t really make sense, but let’s go with the flow, shall we? And maybe start at the beginning.

The Tiffany Memorandum starts in Paris. Dick Hallan, a reporter for the Herald Tribune, walks through the neon jungle to a swinging and infectious theme tune by Riz Ortolani. He ends up at an illegal gambling house and after casing the room, takes a seat at the roulette wheel. Whether Hallan is working a story or just there to blow some of his hard earned cash is never explained. He places a bet. As the wheel spins the croupier reaches for a secret button under the table – a device to ensure there are no winners. Hallan grabs the croupier’s hand before he has a chance to activate the device. The ball runs its natural course, and what-do-you-know, Hallan’s number comes up.

140324-tiffany-memorandum-0-230-0-341-cropAnother gambler also benefits from Hallan’s intervention – this gentleman just happens to be Francisco Aguirrez (Michel Bardinet) – the highly favoured democratic candidate for the Republic of El Salvador. Hallan and Aquirrez become friends and leave the club together. As they walk back to their hotel, hoods from the casino come after Hallan – trying to get back their money. While Hallan engages in some brutish fisticuffs, Aguirrez is assassinated in a drive by shooting.

There is naturally enough a police investigation. At the police station, Hallan notices that Aquirrez’s chauffeur, is brought in for questioning. For some reason, to Hallan, that makes him the prime suspect, and he chooses to follow him. The chauffeur boards a train to Berlin – with his travelling companion, Sylvie Maynard (Irina Demick). Hallan also boards the train. On route, the train is derailed – you really have to see the model used for this, it is little more than a standard Hornby train set. The end result of this calamity is that the chauffeur is killed and in the confusion, Hallan is mistaken for him.

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From here on out, the film gets confusing with multiple parties all after the macguffin. There are car chases, fist fights and a crazy climax at a television studio.

In the past I have enjoyed Ken Clark’s other spy outings – Mission Bloody Mary, From the Orient With Fury and Special Mission: Lady Chaplin – but apart from one or two stylish touches, Tiffany Memorandum falls flat. It tries too hard to keep the viewer guessing, twisting and turning every which way, but by the 97th plot twist most viewers will have given up trying to follow the plot – and arty visuals do not a film make. This is one for the hard core EuroSpy fans only.

Tiffany Memorandum (1967)