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  • Warning: Spoilers
    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.
  • If you are looking for an excellent war mini-series, you might want to think twice before you watch "The Rhinemann Exhange". While shows from the era such as "The Winds of War" are classics and must-see films, "The Rhinemann Exchange" is too much like a sexy soap opera to be taken very seriously.

    When the film begins, Stephen Collins plays David Spaulding--rich international playboy and polo player whose only other interest is banging his dad's lady (is she his second wife or girlfriend or fiancée--I couldn't tell). However, after the Germans invade Poland (killing the Dad and his lady in the process), suddenly Spaulding is a dedicated patriot and member of Army Intelligence. Much of this first episode is centered on this as well as his assignment in Spain that lasts until 1943--where, once again, Spaulding is doing his job AND making it with one of the local women.

    In a weird plot that could only come on TV or in films, the Germans AND Americans both have problems that the other side could solve. The Germans need industrial diamonds for their rocket program (which the Americans have) and the Americans need a better gyroscope for their bombers (which the Germans have). So, some evil industrialists and schemers come up with an insane option--to trade the two things and, thus, prolong the war. It's clearly a paranoid plot about the military industrial complex and although very far-fetched, it is interesting.

    The rest of the film consists of two huge plots--Spaulding getting it on with yet another lady (Lauren Hutton) and his unknowing involvement with this international conspiracy. During much of the film, Spaulding is being chased by all sorts of folks trying to kill him--and he's not 100% sure who these people are but he suspects they are Gestapo.

    So why does the film earn a modest score of 6? Well, although the plot is original and interesting, too much of the film is spent with Spaulding and his incredibly strong libido. While Collins clearly is a handsome guy and I am pretty sure he had tons of women chasing him over the years, this cannot be the basis for a WWII action film! My feeling is that the mini-series would have been best as a soap opera OR WWII film--not both.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was really disappointed to watch this television series for a full excruciating 5 hours waiting to see if somewhere in the story would be something that could be related to the book of Mr. Ludlum. Apart from names and places and yes, basically the plot is there but this series is nothing like the authors's book and is centered, as mentioned by other reviewers, on Mr. Collins' libidinal capacities and good looks. Performances by supporting cast is probably what saved this movie. That and some of the details that went into the production, such as cars, mainly. But even the clothing fashion does not match the era. To be frank, Stephen Collins delivers a somewhat honest effort but nothing more. Mrs Hutton, with all due respect, is pretty bad is her "femme fatale" role, (just think of the sequence when she tries to run away from her enemies in her high heels in a desert-like area.) The re-writing made by Richard Collins (any relation to Stephen???) is what killed it for me, turning it into a laughable story about a romance that is not at all convincing. I give this a "generous" 4 out of ten.