Puppet on a Chain - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Puppet on a Chain Reviews

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April 14, 2016
When three hippie drug-dealers are murdered by "the assassin" (Peter Hutchins) in Los Angeles, the U.S. government sends special agent Paul Sherman (Sven-Bertil Taube) to track down the European source of heroin that is causing the drug war. Sherman was born in Holland, but it is clear that Amsterdam's chief of police, Colonel De Graaf (Alexander Knox) is unhappy with having the Americans interfere in Dutch affairs. However, Sherman's direct contact, Inspector Van Gelder (Patrick Allen) is more cooperative, since his niece, Trudi (Penny Casdagli) suffered brain damage after a heroin overdose. When Sherman makes contact with a under cover agent from Washington named Maggie (Barbara Parkins), he almost immediately has a brutal encounter with "the assassin," indicating that the drug dealers have someone on the inside...

"Puppet on a chain" was made and released about two years after its source novel of the same name by Alistair MacLean (first published in 1969). It was MacLean's fourteenth novel and this movie was the seventh film adaptation of one of MacLean's stories. This movie has been on my to see list for a very long time and it was quite of my liking. The famous Swedish musical artist Sven-Bertil Taube is solid as Paul Sherman and he has both the looks and the weight to portray a special agent. I love the slightly psychedelic touch in the film, the setting of lovely Amsterdam, the stunning Barbara Parkins, the action scenes leading up to the intense boat chase along the canals of Amsterdam, the morals of what drugs do to you and the touch of James Bondīs blessing hovering over its villains and plotline. Yes, the acting is maybe a bit wobbly and the green screens emerge every now and then. But, all in all "Puppet on a chain" is definitely ok in my book.
July 1, 2015
This Alistair MacLean thriller is not quite as adventurous as some the other film adaptations of other novels, but it's a solid enough crime investigation with some trademark characters and twists, and a decent boat chase around Amsterdam too.
March 28, 2015
WOW......WOW.......WOW......WOW.....BRILLIANT......AMAZING......FANTASTIC,.......GENIUS......SUPERB........man I have just seen this movie 4 the 1st time n think that this is such a great movie 2 watch......its got a good cast of actors/actresses throughout this movie.......I think that sven bertil taube, Barbara parkins, alexander knox (.R.I.P.), Patrick allen (.R.I.P.), vladek sheybal (.R.I.P.), ania marson, play good roles/parts throughout this movie.......I think that the director of this action/adventure/mystery/suspense movie had done a great job of directing this movie because you never know what 2 expect throughout this movie.....man this is such a gripping/thrilling movie 2 watch, its got such a brilliant cast throughout this movie........

The famous boat chase sequence was directed by Don Sharp who was specifically hired to do it. Once he completed that sequence he was hired by the producers to reshoot additional sequences. Sharp:

The chappie who directed originally [Geoffrey Reeve, who died in 2010] has gone on to produce some nice movies, and before this he had a good career in shooting commercials. And he's a talented man. But he didn't have a story sense then, as a director, and he and his camera operator, each set-up, you know, a sequence that looked like part of a television commercial and wasn't there for the drama of it, or just to let the audience know what was happening. And therefore I had to take parts out of, for example, a nightclub sequence. Seventy-five per cent of it was fine; only when it came to the dialogue bits between them did I have to go in and reshoot it, because it just didn't make sense - to shoot a couple of really good, important dialogue lines to do with the plot in a shot between the legs of a dancer . . . That wasn't exactly it but I mean that sort of thing, you know. It was done for a visual effect.


Sharp said the film went on to make "a mint of money" and claimed in 2007 he was still getting royalties from it being shown on television.

man this is such a gripping/thrilling movie 2 watch, its got such a brilliant cast throughout this movie.......Its got a good soundtrack throughout this movie.......I think that this is such a classics movie 2 watch, it is such a really well written/acted/directed movie 2 watch, its got such a brilliant cast throughout this movie.......I think that this is such a classics movie 2 watch, it is such a fantastic movie 2 watch,
March 25, 2015
Seriously digging the 70s-tastic vibe. Not much more to recommend here apart from the chap who used to do the Barratt a Homes adverts. Telegraphed story, static and awkward
March 18, 2015
As a big fan of Alistair MacLean books in my youth I also saw as many of the films as I could. Seeing it 40+ years later it hasn't aged that well, Where Eagles Dare has to the best book to film effort, however Puppet on A Chain is still quite effective and the boat chase a real classic!
½ December 19, 2009
Historically, the 1946 Dick Powell movie TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH kicked off the drug smuggling movie genre when the old Production Code Administration amended its infamous Motion Picture Code in 1946 to allow the depiction of narcotics traffic. Previously, the PCA refuses in most instants to let filmmakers name the narcotics in their movies, much less show people abusing these substances. THE FRENCH CONNECTION captured the most limelight next with an Oscar for Best Picture in 1971, and then the Alistair MacLean heroin thriller PUPPET ON A CHAIN came out in 1972. PUPPET ON A CHAIN is not half as exciting as either THE SATAN BUG or WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL, two superior MacLean sagas. This ranks one of the lesser MacLean melodramas. Since Dutch authorities in Amsterdam cannot get a fix on the folks in their fair city who are smuggling tons of heroin to the United States, a dapper but divorced narcotics agent from Washington, Paul Sherman (Sven-Bertil Taube of THE EAGLE HAS LANDED), heads to the city of canals and barrel organs to see what he can do. Alistair MacLean astonished everybody with his dynamic WHERE EAGLES DARE screenplay, but nobody will be astonished by this lethargic thriller. For example, sixty-four minutes elapses before director Geoffrey Reeves stages a decent hand-to-hand combat fight. Okay, the earlier fight scene at 21 minutes into the action in the hotel room where our hero stays qualified as a one-sided, disposable scuffle, even though the intruder died. Anyhow, this respectable mystery unfolds after three people are gunned down by a mustached hitman wearing gloves and armed with a silenced automatic pistol. Dude drives up, walks in, and guns them down in the living room. The next thing we see is our handsome hero aboard a jet landing in Amsterdam. A man is shot at the airport where Sherman was supposed to have made a rendezvous with him. Anyway, Amsterdam authorities are not happy with the arrival of Sherman and the interference of a Yankee narco man in their backyard. The only remnant of WHERE EAGLES DARE here is the use of a back-up agent, Maggie (Barbara Perkins of VALLEY OF THE DOLLS), who does a bit of her own snooping without arousing suspicion. Yes, like the Mary Ure character in WHERE EAGLES DARE, nobody is supposed to know that Maggie is a part of the plan. Maggie investigates a suspicious looking church where Bibles are passed out to nuns wearing fishnet hose. Naturally, Maggie and Sherman have an intimate moment to smooch before he proves his action hero chops against a thug who loves to strangle his victims. Meegeren (Vladek Sheybal of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE) serves as the minister but you know that he is up to no good. Hmm! Meanwhile, Amsterdam Police Chief Colonel De Graaf (Alexander Knox of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE) resents the cooperation that he has to extend to the troublesome Sherman. Things grow more interesting after the heroine is murdered by the evil villain who wraps a chain around her neck and strangles her. Of course, we are not shown the entire strangulation, but Barbara Parkins does a great job of begging for mercy before she winds up dangling next to a doll whose facial features resemble her. Eventually, our hero shows up at the castle where the villains hide out. Not only does Sherman discover a heroin laboratory with dolls neatly arranged for packing, but he also stumbles into Maggie hanging from the ceiling. The villain tries to dispose of him initially by piping the deafening sounds of clocks chiming into his ears via a headset. Fifteen minutes of this will drive a man crazy, the villain warns, but twenty will kill him. Predictably, the resourceful Sherman escapes. Eight-one minutes into the action, Don Sharp takes over from Reeve and helms an outstanding power boat speed chase through the canals of Amsterdam that concludes with the villain smashing into a gate. The villain wearing a white suit and fedora is a nice touch. Anyway, Sherman tracks down the villains behind the villain and a neat revelation occurs when they surprise our hero. Yes, there is a dirty cop involved in these hijinks. The chief villain explains that each doll can pack up to $60-thousand dollars in heroin. The finale includes a brief gunfight at a shadowy warehouse where the hero takes a slug in the shoulder and the villain takes a fatal plunge.
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