The List of Adrian Messenger Reviews
The narrative is quite slow in the middle but makes up for it in a climax in which many cameo stars appear in heavy makeup.
For it's time, the makeup effects are very good and the gimmick works quite well. Hitchcock would have made a masterpiece of this.
The vehicle for this cash-in is a plot wherein the eponymous writer believes a succession of ostensibly isolated "accidental" deaths are really related murders. He asks his friend George C. Scott, just retired from MI5, to help resolve the obscurity, but Messenger's plane is sabotaged while he's on the way to gather data to corroborate his fears and, with his last lungful of air, he struggles to impart to a fellow passenger a crucial clue. What do you know, the passenger just so happens to be the sole survivor and‚¶just so happens to be Scott's old WWII Resistance comrade. They collaborate to probe Messenger's inventory of names, and decipher his puzzling last gasps. Aside from the ones that insult us, more than a few story aspects in the film are akin to The Hound of the Baskervilles, like hounds, the intentions of the killer, the allusions to Canada, and the exposure of the killer using a hoax.
While we discover rather soon who the killer is, the obscurity of his intentions and the anticipation of his capture are enough to keep going, even if not gripped by genuine tension or suspense. Burdened with a rasping, implausible plot, maybe this lockstep adventure should've been set in Victorian times to oblige its villain with an infatuation with costumes, its Edwardian-style consulting sleuth in a bowler hat, and its foul play in a misty Thames Path.
There is something I quite liked, maybe because it took the edge off, made me relax and enjoy the kitsch. Before the haunting trumpet solos of Chinatown, the strange and threatening cues of Alien or the atmospheric strings of Basic Instinct, a comparatively green-horned Jerry Goldsmith shaped an evocative, and purely '60s-kitsch, ambiance out of an instrumental jumble incorporating saxophone, electric guitar, tuba, harp and the definitive eerie UFO-suggestive electronic whistle that creates nostalgic vibes as when we hear it in The Lost Weekend, Spellbound and BBC's Midsomer Murders.
The plot's routine in conception and excecution, but the fun here is to see if you can spot some stellar names--- Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra. All these folks made up in funny faces. Should provide a good time to mystery buffs.
Directed by John Huston
Produced by Edward Lewis
Written by Anthony Veiller (screenplay)
George C Scott
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
I Love a mystery and as previoiusly stated this is many mysteries within a mystery. Still today, I often forget and have to wait for the revealed characters to recognize the corresponding actor.
Few Frank Sinatra Fair showcase his potential as an actor as well as this...so watch.