Saturday, November 28, 2015

DIPLOMATIC COURIER (1952)


There is potential to make this early Cold War story a noteworthy Tyrone Power career jump-starter. Perhaps a best forgotten film, it may surprise you how good it might have been. Power turns in a solid performance as a favored diplomatic courier of the state department. Almost as good as his stunt double in a few action scenes. And the action is sparse. But there are plenty of plot shifts and surprises to hold your interest. Intriguing if not thrilling.

Never a fan of Patricia Neal. Here, her character just “happens” to meet Power on a flight to Salzburg and her acting is just plain annoying. She seems to be doing her best Tallulah Bankhead impression. Slurred S’s and rapid, witty comebacks trying very hard to be attractive to Power. Her mink coat helps. But soon even Power finds her annoying as she turns up everywhere he goes. He wonders what her game is.

Power becomes involved with Hildegard Kneff’s character. She may be a Russian spy yet she works with Power’s good friend and courier connection, played by James Millican. He has no dialogue after thirty minutes into the film, revealing his fate. Power begins to realize he is also in danger. The never subtle Karl Malden plays a military MP lending backup protection for Power. His superior officer is played by Stephen McNally, in an actual good guy part.

Finally realizing that Knef has been telling the truth, Power rescues her from a Russian agent just before the words THE END appear on screen. How the studios time that so precisely when dialogue runs out has always been a mystery.

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