HIGHLY DANGEROUS (director: Roy Ward Baker; screenwriter: Eric Ambler; cinematographer: Reginald Wyer; editor: Alfred Roome; music: Richard Addinsell; cast: Margaret Lockwood (Frances Gray), Dane Clark (Bill Casey), Marius Goring (Commandant Anton Razinski), Naunton Wayne (Mr. Hedgerley), Wilfrid Hyde-White (Mr. Luke, British consul), Eugene Deckers (Alf, the ‘contact’), Michael Hordern (Lab Director Owens), Anthony Newley (Operator), Paul Hardtmuth (Priest), Eric Pohlmann (Joe, the bartender); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Antony Darnborough; MGM; 1950-UK)
“A highly farfetched espionage spoof that’s fun even if it’s not credible.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Roy Ward Baker (“The October Man”/”Inferno”/”Don’t Bother To Knock”) directs with panache an absurd Eric Ambler screenplay. It’s a highly farfetched espionage spoof that’s fun even if it’s not credible.
Prim entomologist Frances Gray (Margaret Lockwood) is sent by British Intelligence boss Hedgerley (Naunton Wayne) to a fictionalized Iron Curtain country in the Balkans as a spy to find out about a possible scientific experiment involving the breeding of insects for use in biological germ warfare. Soon after Frances meets her contact, Alf (Eugene Deckers), disguised as a hotel porter, he’s slain and his dead body is placed in her hotel room. The treacherous Chief of Police, Anton Razinski (Marius Goring), arrests Frances and gives her a truth serum before releasing her to be expelled the next day from the police state country. Still wanting to complete her vital mission Frances is reeling from the serum that makes her think she’s the heroine adventurer of her favorite Frank Conway radio serial and she elicits the help of American journalist Bill Casey (Dane Clark) to be her partner. He was banished to this Godforsaken country for his political views and now agrees to help in this highly dangerous task in the hopes of cracking a big story and redeeming himself to his editors so he can get stationed in New York or London or Paris.
It mixes a straight adventure tale with a spy spoof, and at times it appears so lost in its silliness that it can never get back on track. But despite its lapses, it comes up aces by casting Marius Goring as the sinister head of the Secret Police and is well-paced to keep it suspenseful till the climax.
REVIEWED ON 6/2/2008 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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