Burt Kennedy's "Rhinemann exchange" based on Ludlum's book, has a relatively complex and somewhat far-fetched storyline. At the end of the war, German rocket scientists in Peenemunde are in desperate need for industrial diamonds for their V-1's and V-2's. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Americans are faced with serious problems to produce a more efficient gyroscope for their bombers. Shadowy figures like Walter Kendall (Claude Akins) and General Swanson (Vince Edwards) have found in the German Erich Rheinemann a way to a potentially extremely lucrative business deal. In exchange for industrial diamonds, the Germans are prepared to hand over to the American conspirators the blueprints of their top notch gyroscope. The U.S. company that would get the contract to build the gyroscope, would be allowed to equip thousands of B-17's, B-24's and other bombers with this special equipment. General Swanson is of course not backed up by his superiors, so the deal is highly secret. Swanson contacts Col. Edmund Pace -played by Larry Hagman- and ask him to find him a good intelligence operative who can organize the exchange. (Many non-American movie fans would be surprised to see how active Hagman has been, before reaching international stardom as the sardonic "J.R." in "Dallas"). Col. Pace suggests his protégé, agent David Spaulding (Stephen Collins). Before the war, Spaulding was a successful polo-player and flamboyant playboy. During the Blitzkrieg in Poland, both his father and his girlfriend Irene get killed, after the Germans bombed the hotel in which they were staying. Spaulding is recruited by G-2 -Army intelligence- , because of his language skills, his background as a Construction engineer and because he's someone who likes "the game". After an extensive training in close combat, he was send for several years to Spain.
Since both Spaulding's father, Irene and a mistress he had while he was active in Spain were killed by Germans, Swanson prefers not to let him know all the details of "Operation Tortugus". Indeed, what would be the use of telling him that industrial diamonds will be given to the Germans in exchange for the gyroscope's blueprints ? Spaulding surely would jeopardize the deal. So, in stead he's led to believe that the Germans offer the blueprints because they no longer believe in Germany's chances to win the war. The murky exchange will take place in Buenos Aires, being a neutral territory. Spaulding will be accompanied by Dr. Eugene Lyons, who's job it is to analyze the blueprints, to make sure the Germans are not selling junk.
To his big surprise, Spaulding's latest love interest, Miss Leslie Jenner Hawkewood also has been transfered to the US Embassy in Buenos Aires. From that moment on, all kind of strange events start happening... Spaulding gets attacked, someone broke into his room... No wonder he becomes very suspicious about the blonde Hawkewood. Things become even more complicated, when his British counterpart during his Spanish years –Geoffrey Moore (Jeremy Kemp)- also seems to be in Buenos Aires, while Kendall claims the man is actually dead
Now, what's your guess... Will Spaulding manage to outsmart the villains and get the girl in the end ?
The main problem I had with this TV mini-series –except for the somewhat far-fetched scenario was that both clothing, hairdo and interior decorations quite often gave me the impression I was watching an episode of Charlie's Angels rather than a WW 2-epic. The cars for sure are superb. However, the nice silver/blue Jaguar sports car driven by Miss Hawkewood is clearly of the XK-series, which was produced AFTER the war ! The way the Germans like Heinrich Stolz ((Bo Brundin) are presented, is quite cliché too, and that makes the Rhinemann Exchange not as good as it could have been. I'd rate it 6.5/10.
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