Man on the Spying Trapeze (Anónima de asesinos) is a typical example of the eurospy genre, and a pretty good one.
Jerry Land (Wayde Preston) is an American intelligence agent on the trail of a stolen microfilm containing plans for a new rocket reactor motor. The case is linked to the mysterious death of another agent in Rome. The trail leads him to Beirut. The trail also leads him to a succession of glamorous women.
There are various double-crosses and there’s a pretty good diabolical criminal mastermind. Actually two diabolical criminal masterminds.
These eurospy movies could never match the Bond moves when it came to spectacular stunts and gadgets but this one has plenty of action. Such gadgets as there are are typical of the gadgets used in good low-budget spy movies, relying on clever ideas rather than high tech - such as the camera concealed in a pair of dentures!
In fact that’s the technique used throughout this film. The idea of nuclear-powered rockets sounds cool, even if the producers couldn’t afford to show us any actual rockets! That’s part of the fun of this genre - the high-tech content is mostly suggested. There’s also a high-tech torture device which is basically just a chair with a few bits bolted on.
Wayde Preston had starred in a western series called Colt .45 on the American ABC network but when his career in the US started to falter he followed the example of many other rugged action hero actors and set off for Europe where he found plenty of work in the Italian film industry. He makes an ideal eurospy hero. Eurospy heroes are almost always square-jawed Americans. He wasn’t the world’s greatest actor but he was more than adequate fir a role like this.
Noé Murayama as Mr Wong is a suitably sinister villain. Helga Sommerfeld adds glamour as one of the beautiful women liberally sprinkled through the plot.
The formula here is plenty of fist-fights and plenty of at least implied sex. The sex is like the gadgets - you don’t see anything but you know there’s a lot of it going on.
It hits the ground running with gunplay, a car chase and explosions. The climactic action sequences are well-mounted, with helicopters, lots of extras and a huge expenditure of small-arms ammunition.
This Spanish-Italian-West German co-production has never to my knowledge had an official DVD release, something that is sadly the case for so many tempting eurospy titles. Unfortunately only a handful have had decent DVD releases and most movies in this genre only get to be seen in cruddy fullframe editions as was the case with this movie. This makes it difficult to render a fair judgment on the cinematography and even on the skills of the director (in this case Spaniard Juan de Orduña).
If you’re a fan of the genre Man on the Spying Trapeze is still worth tracking down. A good solid entry in the eurospy cycle.