Panther’s Moon (1950)

vt Spy Hunt
US / 74 minutes / bw / Universal International Dir: George Sherman Pr: Ralph Dietrich Scr: George Zuckerman, Leonard Lee Story: Panther’s Moon (1948; vt Hunter’s Moon) by Victor Canning Cine: Irving Glassberg Cast: Howard Duff, Marta Toren (i.e., Märta Torén), Philip Friend, Robert Douglas, Philip Dorn, Walter Slezak, Kurt Kreuger, Aram Katcher, Otto Waldis, Ivan Triesault, Jay Barney.

Although it’s technically a US production, this outing has “UK film noir” stamped all over it, including the use of a fading US star as leading man: Duff was accused in 1950 of communist sympathies and, if not for his relationship with Ida Lupino, whom he married in 1951, might have found himself ostracized by the industry. British and other European actors dominate the cast, notably the radiant Swedish actress Märta Torén as the female lead, and the movie is based on a novel by the stalwart UK thriller writer Victor Canning.

Marta Toren as Catherine

It’s the early days of the Cold War, and Europe is aswarm with clandestine agents of diverse allegiances.

In Milan, an agent called Gormand (Waldis) passes a piece of microfilm he’s brought from Istanbul to Catherine Ullven (Torén), who seems to be working with the British Secret Service. She in turn, pretending to be a journalist for the Apex News Service, sweet-talks Steve Quain (Duff), who’s escorting a pair of black panthers by train across Europe for eventual delivery to Bradley’s Circus in the US, into leaving the animals briefly Continue reading

Assignment—Paris (1952)

vt Assignment: Paris; vt European Edition
US, France, Italy / 84 minutes / bw / Columbia Dir: Robert Parrish (plus an uncredited Phil Karlson) Pr: Samuel Marx, Jerry Bresler Scr: William Bowers Story: Trial by Terror (1952 Saturday Evening Post) by Pauline and Paul Gallico, adapted by Walter Goetz, Jack Palmer White Cine: Burnett Guffey, Ray Cory Cast: Dana Andrews, Marta Toren (i.e., Märta Torén), George Sanders, Audrey Totter, Sandro Giglio, Donald Randolph, Herbert Berghof, Ben Astar, Willis Bouchey, Earl Lee, Joseph Forte, Pál Jávor, William Woodson.

Although based on a Gallico serial, this Cold War outing becomes a surprisingly tough piece that’s full of noir sensibilities and has a cast to match. It’s set in Paris and Budapest, with filming being done on location in both cities; what the Hungarians thought about the finished product is anyone’s guess.

We open at the New York Herald Tribune’s Paris HQ, where, according to the narrator (Woodson),

“Into the offices early last year came a phone call that made one of the most shocking headlines of the day. This is the story of the man who tried to break through an iron wall of censorship to get the facts behind that headline . . .”

The man in question is hotshot young reporter Jimmy Race (Andrews). The phone call was from the Trib’s man in Budapest, Barker (Forte), and concerned the sentencing there of an American, Robert Anderson, to twenty years’ hard labor for espionage.

Meanwhile the Trib’s Paris editor, Nick Strang (Sanders), has ordered the paper’s other reporter in Budapest, Jeanne Moray (Torén), back to base despite the fact that she’s been hot on the trail of a story that would Continue reading