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Private detective Edward Mercer goes to Venice at the request of a French insurance company to locate a brave Italian whom they wish to reward for his part in the rescue of an Allied airman shot down during the war. At least, that is what Mercer thinks as he steps off the steamer at the Piazza San Marco and is greeted by a smiling street photographer, Cassana. Mercer makes his way to a shop and finds his first contact dead from a knife stab, and the trail leads him to Adrianna. He faces danger from police chief Spaloni and also from a group of foreign patriots, led by Count Borian and Lieutenant Longo, who want to use him as a stool-pigeon for a planned Coup d'Etat. A hectic race across the roof tops, high above the great square, brings Mercer to grips against his unknown enemy.Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Some great visuals, but it talks the convoluted plot to death...death in Venice anyone?
The Assassin (1952)
What distinguishes this movie is the setting--Venice, in the 1950s. There are some other famous movies set in this town in this time (the moody 1955 "Summertime"), and somehow this one feels the most authentic, not romanticized to pieces but still an appreciative take on it.
Of course, you'd rather have your movie succeed because of its plot and acting, and this one isn't bad--I'd watch it if you like this kind of low budget black and white Euro-noir. (This is a British B-movie.)
As much as murder, and the machinations of post-war Italy, are the backdrop, this is a very talky movie, to the point of being both redundant and at times confusing. It's dramatic in its progression of mysteries, and in the many night or dark interior scenes, barely lit. It's dripping in art history throughout, both as backdrop and as a growing part of the theme (one of the main mysterious characters is an artist) and this is terrific.
Because the plot is one conversation after another, all rather undramatic in its delivery, it depends on its actors rather a lot, and the leading man (Richard Todd) in particular is serious but straining the whole way. The story and screenplay are by Victor Channing, who was a best selling British author in his day, and it feels like best seller stuff, thinly conceived. There are bit actors doing their best, and there is an authenticity implied by all of the settings and period sets fairly contemporary to the filming. But the deadened script undermines a visually emphatic movie. Watch with some patience left over.
Or watch for Venice. There really is a lot in store in this aspect (though some of the interiors were apparently shot in Veneto, which is the province nearby. Toward the end is a large procession on the grand canal, pretty neat if you like that kind of thing. As the assassin, an artist at heart, says as he is ready to commit his crime, "I should have a pencil, not a gun." And you know, the last five minutes is amazing filming (and sound!), with Hitchcockian overtones, worth seeing no matter what you think of the rest of it.
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