(director: John Gilling; screenwriters: John Paxton/short story by A.J. Forrest; cinematographer: Ted Moore; editor: Richard Best; music: Richard Bennett; cast: Victor Mature (Charles Sturgis), Anita Ekberg (Gina Broger), Trevor Howard (Frank McNally), Bonar Colleano (Amalio), Dorothy Alison (Helen), André Morell (Commissioner Breckner), Martin Benson (Captain Varolli), Eric Pohlmann (Etienne Fayala), Peter Illing (Captain Baris), Alec Mango (Salko), Lionel Murton (Murphy); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Irving Allen/Albert R. Broccoli/Phil C. Samuel; Columbia Pictures; 1957-UK)

“Clunky and unbelievable B-film crime thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Clunky and unbelievable B-film crime thriller directed by John Gilling (“The Man Inside”/”High Flight”) from a short story by A.J. Forrest and scripted by John Paxton. The odd cast includes accomplished actor Trevor Howard as a psychopathic killer drug smuggler of heroin and the unaccomplished actress Anita Ekberg, with the hot bod, Howard’s reluctant moll. Victor Mature is the one-dimensional surly and humorless narc who turns in his usual stiff performance, and as we used to sign in our junior high school graduation books “Yours till Victor matures.”

U.S. narcotics agent, part of the FBI, Charles Sturgis (Victor Mature) trails international dope smuggler Frank McNally (Trevor Howard), whom he has a personal vendetta for because he strangled to death his agent kid sister with her own scarf. Problem is no one has a photo or description of McNally. When word comes from the Interpol bureau in London that Salko (Alec Mango), McNally’s accomplice, despite having facial cosmetic surgery has been seen in London, the boss of New York’s Bureau of Narcotics, Murphy (Lionel Murton), sends Charles to London by plane to work with Interpol to nab the notorious McNally.

At Salko’s flat, Gina Borger (Anita Ekberg), McNally’s drug courier, delivers a satchel to Salko. When Salko sexually accosts her, Gina whips out a pistol and plugs the slimeball. When Interpol arrives at the crime scene Salko’s body is missing, but they get the prints of Gina. This leads the gung-ho Charles to trail her to Lisbon, where he’s spotted following her as she picks up a package at a luggage store to deliver to McNally in Rome. At the Catacombs, McNally secretly meets with Gina to tell her she’s being trailed and to go to Athens; he also has his thugs try to rub out Charles on the tour of the Catacombs, but has no such luck. When Charles retreats from the Catacombs and can’t locate his pigeon, he’s greeted by the hustling tout Amalio (Bonar Colleano), hawking souvenirs to tourists, a transplanted New Yorker from Little Italy, who offers to sell him information about McNally. Charles bites, and gets hooked up with a meeting with Gina in a shady hotel. After telling Gina she’s in deep trouble, McNally’s thugs try bumping him off but the Italian police, working with Interpol, save him. Capt. Varolli (Martin Benson), the head of the police department, who accuses him of acting like a lone vigilante and orders him to cooperate with the authorities or else be removed from the team, then informs Charles that Gina flew to Athens. Through Amalio’s tip, Charles learns that McNally struck a bargain with the corrupt captain (Peter Illing) of a Greek cargo ship to transport the drugs across the sea to New York and flies home to meet the ship.

If you never visited Rome and want a free tour of the Catacombs, this film can oblige. Otherwise it’s a lackluster police chase film that has no redeeming virtues, and what’s worse is that the curvaceous Anita remains fully dressed throughout.