Permission to Kill (1975)

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Alpine scheming!
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vt Kickback; vt The Executioner
UK, Austria, US / 97 minutes / color with occasional brief bw / Sascha–Film, Jungbluth & Lazek, Warner, Columbia–Warner, Embassy Dir: Cyril Frankel Pr: Paul Mills Scr: Robin Estridge Story: W.I.L One to Curtis (1967) by Robin Estridge Cine: Freddie Young Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Ava Gardner, Bekim Fehmiu, Timothy Dalton, Nicole Calfan, Frederic Forrest, Klaus Wildbolz, Anthony Dutton, Peggy Sinclair, Dennis Blanch, John Levene, Alf Joint, Vladimir Popovic, Ratislav Plamenac, Oliver Schott, Erna Riedl-Tichy.

Released at the height of the Bond era—this came out between The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), a time when the Bond franchise was for legal reasons undergoing a (very) brief hiatus—Permission to Kill could hardly, despite its title, be more distanced from the technical hijinx, passionate encounters, shootemups and protracted action scenes that characterized its glitzy counterpart. Perhaps aspiring to the gravitas of Le Carre, it focuses on intrigue and the interplay between characters. It’s not entirely successful in this, but it does have a fair amount of appeal in its own right.

Alexander “Alex” Diakim (Fehmiu), a charismatic populist leader in exile from his Middle European homeland because of the repressive government there, has halfway decided to go back to lead the struggle for liberation, even at the likely cost of his life.

Dirk Bogarde as Curtis.

For reasons unstated—perhaps just a fear of rocking the boat—the British secret services don’t want him to do so. A controller who calls himself Alan Curtis (Bogarde) is put in charge of the effort to persuade Alex to delay his plans or, if he proves intractable, to kill him.

Curtis, using various means of blackmail and claiming to be working for the nonexistent Western Intelligence Liaison, assembles a disparate group of people important for some or other reason in Alex’s life and Continue reading

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Stolen Identity (1953)

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An unjustly neglected noir out of post-WWII Vienna that’s sometimes compared to The Third Man.
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Austria, US / 84 minutes / bw / Schoenbrunn, Trans-Globe, Helen Ainsworth Dir: Gunther Fritsch (i.e., Gunther von Fritsch) Pr: Turhan Bey Scr: Robert Hill Story: Ich War Jack Mortimer (1933) by Alexander Lernet-Holenia Cine: Helmuth Ashley Cast: Donald Buka, Joan Camden, Francis Lederer, Adrienne Gessner, Inge Konradi, Gisela Wilke, Hermann Erhard (i.e., Hermann Erhardt), E. von Jordan, Manfred Inger, Louis Ousted.

Stolen Identity - 0 opener

This was the English-Language version made in parallel with ABENTEUER IN WIEN (1952; vt Adventures in Vienna) dir Emile E. Reinert, with Gustav Fröhlich and Cornell Borchers rather than the US actors Donald Buka and Joan Camden in the two leading roles, but with the rest of the cast roughly the same. In A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir I gave basic details of Stolen Identity in the Abenteuer in Wien entry, but didn’t have room to give it an entry of its own. So here’s a redressal of that lack. I was prompted to dig the movie out for a rewatch, for the first time in many years, by a fine review by MarinaSofia of the source novel on her findingtimetowrite blog.

It’s New Year’s Eve in Vienna. Karin Manelli (Camden), unhappy wife of the celebrated concert pianist Claude Manelli (Lederer), is expecting the arrival of Jack Mortimer (Ousted), who will whisk her away from the husband who seems so charming but in fact, because of his egocentricity, subjects her to endless psychological cruelty. Unfortunately, Continue reading