Lex Barker in Victim Five (1964)



(director: Robert Lynn; screenwriters: from the story by Harry Alan Towers/Peter Yeldham; cinematographer: Nicolas Roeg; editor: John Trumper; music: Johnny Douglas; cast: Lex Barker (Steve Martin), Walter Rilla (Wexler), Ronald Fraser (Inspector Dickie Lean), Ann Smyrner (Helga Swenson), Véronique Vendell (Gina), Dietmar Schönherr (Dr. Paul Bryson), Percy Sieff (George Anderson), Gustel Gundelach (Hans Kramer), Gert Van den Bergh (Vanberger), Sophia Spentzos (Leila), Howard Davis (Rawlings); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Skip Steloff/Harry Alan Towers; Columbia Pictures; 1964-UK)

“Nicolas Roeg’s eye-popping photography keeps this one as possibly passable ‘killing time’ entertainment.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Turgid action thriller shot like TV fare, though with colorful location shots and lots of contrived action scenes from a tragic lion hunt to a shootout in the Kango Caves to an escaping farm group of ostriches running wild and nearly trampling the farm owner. B-film director Robert Lynn (“Sandy the Seal”/”Blaze of Glory”/”Mozambique”) flatly directs from a story by coproducer Harry Alan Towers and a formulaic script by Peter Yeldham. Nicolas Roeg’s eye-popping photography keeps this one as possibly passable ‘killing time’ entertainment.

Steve Martin (Lex Barker) is a hotshot NYC private investigator who’s hired, for a steep price and the promise of a $50,000 bonus if the case is solved by him, by a frightened Capetown, South African copper mine millionaire (Walter Rilla) to solve the stabbing murder of his butler and right-hand man during a carnival. The dick soon learns from a photograph taken twenty years ago that police inspector Lean (Ronald Fraser) shows him that Wexler was in some kind of conspiracy with Nazi POWs who would later all reside in South Africa.

On Wexler’s well-guarded estate grounds Martin quickly hits it off romantically with the Danish secretary Helga (Ann Smyrner), flirts with Wexler’s boy-crazy Italian step-daughter Gina (Véronique Vendell), checks out the mining manager George Anderson (Percy Sieff) and resident doctor Paul Bryson (Dietmar Schönherr). When three of those in the photo with Wexler turn up dead and the fifth we are told committed suicide soon after the photo was taken, it calls for Martin to uncover the murderous link between the Nazi POWs and Wexler. Trust me, the answer isn’t worth all the bother.