Death on the Run (1967)

  |  Action, Crime, Mystery


Death on the Run (1967) Poster

On the run from the police in Athens, a man named Jason has in his possession a microfilm eagerly sought by both criminal gangs and government agencies.


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9 August 2008 | Bunuel1976
5
| MOVING TARGET (Sergio Corbucci, 1967) **1/2
After director Corbucci made his mark with the seminal Spaghetti Western DJANGO (1966), he didn't merely restrain himself to that genre – though his work in the field is surely among the most highly regarded (incidentally, I'll be delving for the first time into two more such efforts in the coming days). For this "Euro-Cult" outing, he changed the typical desert landscape in Almeria for the equally evocative streets and landmarks of Athens; the film, in fact, is a generally lighthearted foray into contemporary espionage – however, the results aren't nearly as rewarding as Corbucci's more individualistic 'horse operas'!

To begin with, the American hero (Ty Hardin) is rather bland – he's a notorious thief who's brought in by plane to serve a sentence in the Greek capital; however, before he has even had time to put his feet on the ground, Hardin is 'kidnapped' by Communist spies in order to retrieve a microfilm embedded in one of the teeth of a dead man! A number of other entities soon reveal themselves to be just as interested in its contents – including "Albanian" Gordon Mitchell and mysterious British agent Michael Rennie; the only man the hero can trust is former associate Vittorio Caprioli – playing a character called Pizza(!) and currently the owner of a sleazy but popular nightclub in town (with vivacious blonde stripper Graziella Granata as star attraction). Another girl is also involved – Paola Pitagora – who's introduced as a 'murder victim' of Hardin's, with which the Communists can then blackmail him into acquiescence!; that said, she's an unwilling accomplice – since the girl's infant nephew (her deceased sister had been involved with the man in possession of the microfilm) is being held behind the proverbial Iron Curtain.

It's pretty convoluted stuff albeit reasonably engaging while it's on – with plenty of double-crosses, chases (especially effective when atypically set against the imposing ruins of the famed Acropolis), fistfights, shoot-outs, explosions, and what have you…even if, in the long run, it emerges as little more than a footnote in the director's career! The film turns a bit serious during its latter stages as both women are killed off, and Caprioli takes a severe beating from Mitchell and his thugs; the narrative then concludes with a dual twist – first revealing the identity of the chief spy, who's subsequently deported, but then we're shown that he has made off with a copy of the prized microfilm (which, for what it's worth, involved fabricated evidence to incriminate a specific faction for a proposed coup d'etat to be executed by their rivals!) after all. The bouncy score by DJANGO, KILL!'s Ivan Vandor is notable – as are the stylish end credits (a characteristic element of spy sagas from this era).

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Action | Crime | Mystery

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