Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Horst Buchholz
THAT MAN IN ISTANBUL (aka Estambul '65/1965). Director: Antonio Isasi.

Since the extremely popular From Russia With Love took place mostly in Istanbul, is it any wonder that a spy film made the following year would also use the city as its setting? But this flick is perhaps more similar to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in that the hero is a shady character who gets into the spy action for money. An atomic scientist named Pendergast (Umberto Raho) has been kidnapped, but just as he is being returned his plane blows up -- but was he on it? American agent Kelly (Sylvia Koscina) suspects that Tony Mecenas (Horst Buchholz), who has a gambling operation, a few henchmen and many female admirers, might be behind this deception. However, the two wind up working together as a bunch of Chinese (who seem to work for a Spectre-like organization that also has its own island) and assorted roughnecks are out to find Pendergast and kill off anyone who gets in their way. That Man in Istanbul doesn't make a lot of sense, and doesn't begin auspiciously, but it gets a bit better and has some effective sequences, chief among them a fight high in a minaret-like tower, and a suspenseful climax when Tony and Kelly try hard to get away from a boat that's about to explode. Klaus Kinski [The Million Eyes of Sumuru] shows up briefly but has a decent fight-to-the-death with Tony, who runs half-naked through a Woman-Only sauna and winds up in the back seat of a limo with a startled dowager. The film is essentially farcical, with Buchholz turning to the audience at one point and saying, "What -- me worry?" Tony's affectionate nickname for Kelly is "baby fat" and there's another lady named Elisabeth (Perette Pradier) who gets involved in the action. Buchholz [Dead of Night] does not give a bad performance as a "cute" light-hearted operative, but no one would have cast him as Bond. An international "eurospy" co-production.

Verdict: A really good-looking hero never hurts. **1/2.

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