CROSSPLOT (director: Alvin Rakoff; screenwriters: Leigh Vance/John Kruse; cinematographer: Brendan J. Stafford; editor: Bert Rule; music: Stanley Black; cast: Roger Moore (Gary Fenn), Martha Hyer (Jo Grinling), Alexis Kanner (Tarquin), Claudie Lange (Marla Kugash), Derek Francis (Sir Charles Moberley), Ursula Howells (Maggi Thwaites), Bernard Lee (Chilmore), Francis Matthews (Ruddock), Veronica Carlson (Dinah), Tim Preece (Sebastian), John Lee (Blake), Charles Hyatt (President Maudula); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert S. Baker; United Artists; 1969-UK)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A James Bond type of thriller that stars Roger Moore in his pre-Bond days (four years before he appeared in the 1973 Live and Let Die) and in his first role in a British feature (he played The Saint in a television series). The writers are transplants from the same tv series, Leigh Vance and John Kruse, which might explain why it looks like a castoff television script. The thriller, under the plodding direction of Alvin Rakoff (“Say Hello to Yesterday”), never jells because the mystery story remains undeveloped and muddled, the characters are one-dimensional, the acting is from hunger and the plot line the film hinges on is so preposterous it can’t be believed.
The film opens with Sebastian, a member of a radical activist peace group, thrown over a London bridge while his Hungarian girlfriend, Marla Kugash (Claudie Lange), escapes the assassins and goes on the lam. Roger Moore plays London playboy advertising executive Gary Fenn. He’s in charge of a new ad campaign to find a Miss Swing for sponsor Chilmore (Bernard Lee), but someone planted a photo of Kugash in the model file and she gets chosen (a plot device that was hard to fathom). Fenn now has to find Kugash or lose the account and probably get canned. He traces her through the help of her Aunt Jo (Martha Hyer), a television director. When Fenn finds her hiding out on a barge, he soon learns she’s a target of assassins as she’s mixed up with the hippies and ruthless political animals using that group for their own ends. The story gives way to car chases, an attempted murder on a rooftop averted by Fenn, Fenn decoding a message about the group in a crossword puzzle (thereby the title), and a climactic assassination attempt of an African president (Charles Hyatt) at a Hyde Park military ceremony for him.
It’s set in Swinging London and seems like a practice run for Moore’s future Bond career. Unfortunately not even the action scenes work that well in this dull thriller, as the film is as dumb and tedious as its plot contrivances.
REVIEWED ON 1/7/2007 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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