From Silvio Amadio, director of the Gialli "Amuck" and "So Young, So Lovely, So Young", comes this passable international-intrigue thriller with an engaging cast. It attempts to be a sophisticated crime mystery in the Hitchcock vein, and is reasonably entertaining if never anything great.
Hunky American star Hugh O'Brian ('The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp') is cast here as Dick Sherman, an American reporter working in Rome. Re-entering his life is Shelley North (Cyd Charisse, "Brigadoon"), who was there on vacation with her husband Bill, an engineer. Bill has gone missing at roughly the same time as a stranger has been found murdered near a fountain. Dick works to solve the case along with the inspector (Alberto Closas) assigned to the case.
As a mystery, this is nothing special, with a resolution that falls short of real satisfaction. We're supposed to be caught off guard by the reveal of the antagonist, but it would have worked better if the whole mystery were better explained. As it is, it does feature the requisite number of red herrings, and it does have some fairly exciting scenes.
Mostly, it's an effective visual experience. Other than the fact that the ladies (also including Juliette Mayniel and Eleonora Rossi Drago) are lovely, it's well handled in an aesthetic sense, with colourful 2.35:1 photography. The film is additionally enjoyable as something of a travelogue - there are many attractive Italian location shots. We even get to see inside Italy's famed Cinecitta Studios, which is the real treat.
O'Brian may not make anybody forget Cary Grant, but he comes off pretty well as the likeable, earnest hero. In fact, he comes off better than leading lady Charisse. The supporting cast is fairly strong, with some striking character faces among the other players (including a comedy relief pair of bumbling thieves who happen upon an important plot element during their escapades).
"Assassination in Rome" is nothing one has to go out of their way to see, but lovers of crime mysteries in exotic settings are sure to get some value out of it.
Six out of 10.
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