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TRUNK TO CAIRO (EINER SPIELT FALSCH) (director: Menahem Golan/Raphael Nussbaum; screenwriters: Marc Behm/Alexander Ramati; cinematographer: Yitzhak Herbst; editor: Danny Schick; music: Dov Seltzer; cast: Audie Murphy (Mike Merrick), George Sanders (Professor Schlieben), Marianne Koch (Helga Schlieben), Hans von Borsody (Hans Klugg), Elana Eden (Hadassa), Yosef Yadin (Capt. Gabar), Gila Almagor(Yasmin), Zalman (Ephraim); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Menahem Golan; AIP; 1966-Israel-dubbed in English)
A colorful but absurd political thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A colorful but absurd political thriller filmed in Israel and Italy by codirectors Menahem Golan (“Final Combat”) andRaphael Nussbaum. It’s written by Marc Behm and Alexander Ramati, who write this weak screenplay that tries to cash in on the popularity of James Bond. The pic’s dashing hero is the fortysomething Audie Murphy, who plays action hero Mike Merrick. This is one of the few times Audie is not in a Western. He’s an American agent sent undercover as a German scientist to Egypt to stop a neo-Nazi German scientist, Professor Schlieben (George Sanders), who is working for the Egyptians and is building a rocket with a nuclear device to blow-up Israel.

The Israeli production was made at the height of tensions between Israel and the Arabs, which is perhaps why the film is so politically charged with hatred for the Arabs. They are denigrated as a people who are so stupid they need someone to rule them and someone to make weapons for them. Also, Islam is portrayed as a hateful religion that despises America even more than it does Israel. A year after this film was shot, Israel and Egypt fought a war in 1967.

In Egypt, Mike Merrick poses as German scientist Bauer and works inProfessor Schlieben’s lab outside of Cairo, that’s heavily guarded by Egyptian soldiers. Capt Gabar (Yosef Yadin), of the Egyptian police, is assigned to be the security officer in charge of protecting the German scientist. German scientists are getting killed and Israel is suspected of the assassinations. But it’s actually radical Moslems doing the bomb killings, who supposedly hate the regimes of the Arab countries with dictators.

Mike is a busy guy, as he romances Professor Schlieben’s innocent pretty daughter Helga (Marianne Koch) and penetrates Schlieben’s heavily guarded secret site and thereby destroys the plans and blueprints for the rocket after photographing them. Now detected as a spy, to escape Mike kidnaps the professor’s daughter and a submarine takes her to Rome while Mike stays behind to finish his mission. The idea is to get her dad to stop working for the Egyptians and reunite with his beloved daughter in Rome. Meanwhile things suddenly get too hot for Mike to remain in Egypt and he must escape in novel impossible ways with Captain Gabar hot on his trail. When Mike outsmarts the captain and reaches Rome, he’s soon captured by the Egyptians with Helga. To get Mike out of the country and back to Egypt, Gabar puts him in a trunk that’s delivered to the airport. This gives the film some more time to show-off what a super-agent Mike is, even more daring than Bond, as he escapes from the trunk and then rescues Helga from being returned to Egypt. The professor finally gives up working for the Egyptians and is glad to again be reunited with his daughter, and grateful to Mike for the rescue.

Too bad the likable Audie is too stiff an actor to remind one of the super cool Sean Connery.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”