Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Assassination in Rome (1965)

Assassination in Rome was released on DVD by Dark Sky paired with another eurospy thriller, Espionage in Tangiers, in one of their drive-in double-feature releases.

Espionage in Tangiers is not too bad but I’m afraid that Assassination in Rome will be a bit of a disappointment for eurospy fans. This Italian-Soanish-French co-production is more a straight crime thriller with a bit of international intrigue thrown in but it doesn’t have the engaging silliness of the better eurospy flicks.

Hugh O’Brian is an American newspaper reporter in Rome who gets involved in the case of a missing American engineer. The engineer’s wife (Cyd Charisse) is an old flame of the reporter’s. There is stolen microfilm hidden in the sole of a shoe, and a couple of small-time thieves have found the shoe but don’t know what it contains.

There are no gadgets, no stunts and there’s virtually no action. That means the movie has to function mostly as a straightforward crime movie but the characters are insufficiently developed for it to hold much interest.

That’s not to say it’s a truly bad movie. It’s just a bit too pedestrian.

Director Silvio Amadio went on to make a couple of giallos but he shows little sign here of any great mastery of visual style.

The romantic triangle fails to engage us because there’s little chemistry between the two leads. Hugh O’Brian does the bare minimum required to earn his pay cheque.

Cyd Charisse does make a real effort and she’s the best thing in the movie. She certainly adds some class. Surprisingly she made several movies in this genre and she’s extremely good as a glamorous villainess in the underrated 1967 Maroc 7. In this film however she isn’t given much of an opportunity to show what she could do.

The movie is presented in the correct aspect ratio but it’s not 16x9 enhanced and the print isn’t fantastic. The double feature DVD is worth a look if you can pick it up cheaply and you’re a hardcore eurospy buff but really Assassination in Rome is only for completists, or perhaps for serious Cyd Charisse fans.

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