SECRET OF THE PURPLE REEF, THE (director: William Witney; screenwriters: from the novel by Dorothy Cottrell/Harold Yablonsky; cinematographer: Kay Norton; editor: Peter C. Johnson; music: Buddy Bregman; cast: Jeff Richards (Mark Christopher), Peter Falk (Tom Weber), Margia Dean (Rue Amboy), Richard Chamberlain (Dean Christopher), Terence de Marney (Ashby), Robert Earle (Tobias), Gina Petrushka (Grandmere), Larry Markow (Kilt), Philip Rosen (Twine), Frank Ricco (Henri), Jerry Mitchell (Jerry); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Gene Corman; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1960)
“Passable routine adventure programmer.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Passable routine adventure programmer that is filmed in CinemaScope and set on the Caribbean. It’s directed in a passionless workmanlike way by William Witney (“I Escaped from Devil’s Island”/”Master of theWorld”/”The Gay Ranchero”). It’s based on the novel by Dorothy Cottrell and is flatly written by Harold Yablonsky. Richard Chamberlain makes his film debut in a secondary role. The worthy cast keeps the pot boiling in this tepid suspense yarn boiling longer than it should have with such a weak story, that is until the disappointing payoff proves to be a letdown.
After Robert Christopher and his ship mysteriously disappear in the Caribbean, his two sons, the older Mark (Jeff Richards) and Dean (Richard Chamberlain), search for clues to clear their father’s name of any wrong doing with the insurance company. Since there is no reason why their father’s boat should have gone down in calm seas, the brothers along with their father’s elderly black friend Tobias (Robert Earle) suspect foul play. That leads them to the suspicious heavy-handed sleaze Tom Weber (Peter Falk), owner of the Dagger, who threatens them with his three goons (the goons are also brothers) to go away and not investigate further.
The trio travel to St. Kitts, where the engineer on the Dagger, an old drunk with a shady past, Ashby (Terence de Marney), is hiding. He has secrets to reveal about Weber and his part in causing the disappearance and he has a daughter named Rue Amboy (Margia Dean) who owns a club in town and is partners with her lover Weber.
Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.
The action-packed climax has Ashby in his reef hideout telling the brothers his part in destroying with dynamite the Dagger for an insurance scam while their father’s boat was in the same waters on a rescue mission and therefore went down with the Dagger. The ruthless Weber and his three goons arrive at the reef to silent all the witnesses to their crime and a shootout occurs that takes a few lives.
REVIEWED ON 2/26/2009 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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