Saturday, December 5, 2015

STOPOVER TOKYO (1957)


I have read that Robert Wagner was not pleased with this film. It shows. His low energy delivery makes you wonder if he understands his role. That of an intelligence agent. Mumbling his lines seemingly without moving his lips. Rarely more than a blank face. Not known for great acting chops, his good looks, wit and charm turned him into a first-rate celebrity.

Wagner’s equal-billed co-star is Joan Collins in this unexciting tale of Communist espionage, mundane conversation and an assassination plot. She’s an airline travel receptionist who cannot understand why Wagner is secretive and aloof. Neither that interested in one another any more than the audience is interested in finding out what happens next. Somehow, after only three days and as many conversations, she confesses her love for Wagner. Happens all the time to RJ. I expected Wagner to say, “Terrific” at least once. His favorite word as Alexander Mundy some eleven years later.



Reiko Oyama, in her only screen role, is cute as the daughter of Wagner’s Japan contact. He finds it difficult to tell her that her father will be gone a long time. He starts a bedtime story that in a subtle way may help explain her father’s murder. He never finishes the story. She falls asleep. Wagner is that boring.

The only real actor in this film is Edmond O’Brien. But his over-the-top performance is embarrassing to watch and his character never develops into anything threatening. One scene in particular, he is nearly a buffoon. Buffoons are rarely on the CIA’s most wanted list. Would love to know how he came to get this part or who was also considered. Still have to pay the bills, I guess.

If you were hoping for a fresh take on this final Mr. Moto novel you will be disappointed. Peter Lorre never got a casting call.

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