The King of Sardia is twelve years old and utterly devoted to the Regent, who plans to kill him. The King’s uncle is Duke of neighboring Montego, utterly devoted to the King, who distrusts him, and betrayed by his own security chief, who works for the Regent.
The IMF avert an assassination attempt, harbor the King among Spanish gypsies (Paris and Zorka), and disguise him as a girl, like Achilles.
Barney introduces a large pane of bulletproof glass between the Regent and the King when the latter comes running to his rescuer, who fires a pistol at him.
Barney is arrested for murder at a place called Ciudad Cuidamo. Paris comes home in evening clothes (black tie and cape), answers Phelps’ phone call, which he relays to Willy. “Barney’s in trouble, pack a bag.”
The gears of the operation mesh with the reality. Barney is a jewel thief, Phelps is his partner. The trap is baited by Willy as an Interpol inspector, and Paris as a transferred police sergeant revealed to be in cahoots with the thieves. The chief of police has plans for a strongarm political party, delays the execution for a few hours to get the Dudley emeralds. This is enough time for Phelps and Willy to alter the double gallows.
It’s the chief’s way out of Cellblock 10, where incorrigibles go to be extinguished, seventy so far. There’s a veteran bookmaker and Barney, whose mistress was jealously attacked by a man with a knife who fell on it when Barney dodged a thrust this side of a window looking on the street below. This was the chief’s brother.
A storage locker and an acid bath are in the basement under the gallows’ trapdoor. The rope snaps, the two are spirited away, Barney delivers his mistress, a painter, to her art dealer in New York, “personally”.
An assassination plot against a Caribbean president is led by his own Chief of Internal Security. The assassin is not known, except for his code name, “Plato”, the event is a speech to the U.S. Congress pledging “mutual assistance and cooperation”.
The chief boards a commercial flight full of ringers who drug and replace him, he’s whisked away to a dummy flight that crashes on the island of San Felipe, where a deep cover agent in his employ (and whom he has never seen) serves as an inmate of the penal colony. Escaped prisoners capture the chief, the agent among them, who has learned the plot is known to the president, the assassin must be told.
The chief carries the information himself, out of the prisoners’ cave on the beach, up the cliffs to the capital, where his assistant and co-conspirator drives up in an official car, searching for him. The two men look at each other.
Phelps and Dana are at Kefero to collect the notes of a certain Dr. Khora on bacteriological warfare, now in the hands of his son, a rebel fighter. The meeting at a ruined monastery is interrupted by a raid, Phelps is wounded but escapes, Dana and two rebels are captured.
The captured girl has memorized the notebook, there is no other text. There is a statue of Saint Stefan at the ruins, broken off at the ankles.
Barney and Doug parachute in with parts to reassemble the statue. Phelps and Alex Khora hide within its base as it’s transported into town. Paris is a Ministry of Information official with a plan to mollify the populace.
Flowers are brought to the statue while Phelps and Khora make their way through a drain to the prison, free Dana and the girl (the third captive is a government agent), and return inside the statue to the grounds of the monastery.
A meditation on John Sturges’ The Satan Bug, at an abstract remove or two.
An American hotelier is kidnapped after arranging a deal south of the border. A rebel’s son is held captive by the government, an exchange is sought.
A military prosecutor arranges a firing squad with blanks. The son’s girlfriend goes to plead with the father. An American envoy handles negotiations.
Barney slips into the rebel camp undercover. The envoy is Doug, the girlfriend Dana, the prosecutor Phelps, and the hotelier is Paris.
A sharp script by Harold Livingston and fine direction by Crane articulate the complex position, exemplified by the subtle casting of Joe De Santis as the rebel leader, gradually brought to the fore like Caiaphas to mock at his son’s execution in time of “war”.
Paris has been undercover as Walter A. Phelan making front page news, which leads to this unplanned masterpiece.
The arrangement of the story has a “fugitive syndicate enforcer” steal a canister of nerve gas to force the release of his imprisoned brother. Casey is sprung from prison to tag along with the man’s girlfriend to his hideout. The brother, who has died in stir, even makes an appearance. Nevertheless, the plan is to sell the gas to a bomber of banks, schools and churches.
The similarity of all this to The Satan Bug is heightened by the grandeur of the finale, which is filmed by Crane atop the Griffith Observatory. The IM Force try to shoot the man down, but instead of returning fire he aims at the cast ornaments around the building, one of which hides the canister he has placed there. Before he can hit it, a shot sends him plummeting into an open observatory dome, filmed from below with a striking Hitchcockian effect.
The isle of Malot in the Canaries or Madeiras has the same latitude as coastal Georgia, where a heroin lab is set up to receive the new wholesaler for the Eastern seaboard, thus severing the link between a Turkish supplier and the New York dealer.
The little island is Malot for the nonce, a broken connection elicits a phone call from the supplier and a personal visit from the dealer, who are arrested by local authorities in both places.
The wholesaler kills his predecessor to initiate this arrangement, and offers a substantial discount in exchange for operating capital.
“Operation Rogosh” is the model for the mission, which is observed from outside by an interloper, as before, the dealer’s gunsel protecting the investment.
Arthur Kennedy’s speech in Kazan’s A Streetcar Named Desire, the one about a trip to the South Seas, might have been the inspiration for it.
A partnership (Blake-Shanks, Inc., Financial Advisors) in Hawaii runs the loan sharking trade with a view to mob interest. Mr. Bolt is the mainland connection.
Willy grabs the cash and is caught. The vault is opened with a hand scanner, he has been supplied with a latex molding of Shanks’ entire hand, now, says Barney, “we have to go the other way.” Shanks is drugged, lifted by crane to the upstairs office and carried to the vault, his hand flopped down on the scanner.
The partnership is divided by ruse and multiplied by confusion until, when Mr. Bolt arrives, the only answer is to consult Willy, tortured all this time on truth serum of a particularly nasty type. Thus he is found, and Mr. Bolt has nothing but a pair of mystified loan sharks with not a cent between them.
A wealthy man, who is a nuclear physicist as well, places a 15-megaton bomb under Los Angeles City Hall, timed to go off within a day of the President receiving his demands by mail. Certain congressmen and senators and cabinet secretaries are to resign, certain aspects of foreign policy are to be changed. The location of the bomb isn’t known, not even the city, it could be anywhere in the United States. The IM Force establishes a West Coast assortment of cities (Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, etc.) from the scientist’s recent movements.
The Hob Nob Gas Station and Cafe is the scene of a rendezvous out of The Petrified Forest. From his home, very like the one rented by a Soviet bombmaker in Eddie Davis’s Panic in the City, the scientist drives to meet the President at the Western White House. Radio news tells of a failed payroll robbery in which two guards were murdered. The radiator hose bursts, Willy sends him to the cafe for coffee and works on the engine. Phelps and Mimi arrive as the “Bonnie and Clyde” bandits.
There is no meeting, the news is piped in, another report tells of a hurried conference with the FBI Director and other officials. Convinced he’s been answered, the scientist now must call his accomplice. She is known and under surveillance, but not the third tier of the operation. One of these operatives spies out the cafe, reports to the accomplice, who senses a trap. She assassinates another subordinate who is to disarm the bomb.
Phelps and Mimi have a confederate with a helicopter (Barney), who flies them and the scientist into Los Angeles on the promise of a fortune. They land on the helipad at City Hall and race downstairs. Duane Tatro’s score in this sequence (there are minutes to go) is an arrangement of chords resembling the harmonies of Stravinsky’s Requiem Canticles. Five seconds remain on the detonator when it is removed.
Two sons of a crime family are governed by their mother, who organizes the theft of a million in gold bullion, kills one son for turning State’s evidence and takes the other to an island in the Caribbean, where he kills Willy in a dispute about Casey.
But “the dead shall live, the living die,” and where the gold is hid is known to the spirits of the voodoo world. As a matter of fact, the lady boss becomes so discombobulated that she hires crooked Phelps to fly her back to the U.S. and shows him the gold, which is instantly recovered.
A fine, steely part for Kim Hunter, with Robert Hogan and Alex Rocco.
Woe to Wo Fat
Wo Fat was always a rather crude operative. The great sweep of his master plans lay across a pile of murders and extortions and tactical power plays that were strategic foibles in the grand scheme of things. Cagey determination really defined his limits, though his ambition was unbounded.
Here, at last, you see him in his element, master of an island with a small army, unconstrained by foreign limitations.
Three physicists (one of whom is Pat Crowley) met at Princeton eight years previously to discuss an anti-missile weapon based on a “sophisticated laser system.” The top man in the field after Einstein, Dr. Raintree, led the discussion. Now Wo Fat has brought the three to his private laboratories, thanks to a remarkable gas that subdues the will but leaves the mind fully conscious.
McGarrett is once again apprised of the situation by the State Department and Naval Intelligence. He disguises himself as Raintree, is captured and brought to the island.
Wo Fat no longer browbeats or tortures. In an Oriental gown, he supremely calm reigns at table, searching the professors’ minds for the slightest hint of a velleity or a thought refractory to his purposes, which is then met with a frown and a psychological reinforcement in the form of a word or phrase. They’re working for peace, are they not? You haven’t any doubts, have you? Mind you, the professors are perfectly aware the device can turn cities to cinders, but they cheerfully follow Wo Fat and his charming accent tinged with just a trace of New York.
McGarrett is equipped with a replica of Raintree’s gold pocket watch (a gift from Einstein, engraved in appreciation) fitted with a radio beacon, only the antenna must be raised in order to send a signal to the fleet. Crane films McGarrett’s attempt by night in silence, there is a radio room and tower on the island, the signal would be observed (he sabotages the power supply briefly). Khigh Dhiegh’s performance attains unparalleled ferocity when Wo Fat discovers the transmitter and the impersonation. McGarrett is sentenced to death at dawn, with a night to ponder “the sins of your sometimes brilliant but PATHETICALLY misguided career!”
Another coup by Crane has him take the camera out into the jungle as McGarrett escapes the wrath of Fat. Ultimately, the two fight to the death or to arrest and conviction. Wo Fat assumes a dragonish martial arts posture, McGarrett puts his dukes up.
“Aloha,” says McGarrett as the cell door slides shut on Wo Fat, who is wearing a striped prison uniform and cap and a number. From the sole of his shoe, Fat draws a long, thin file. He brings it to his fingernails for a moment, listening, then advances for the door and is caught in a freeze-frame smiling with contemptuous cleverness. From such a height to such an abyss, and still the same Wo Fat.
Jack Lord’s makeup as Raintree has not even a hint at subtlety, any more than Orson Welles’ as Arkadin. This is the greatest coup that Crane comes up with (compare McGarrett’s more lifelike disguise).