Sunday, 30 July 2017

MAN ON A STRING (1960) Directed by Andre De Toth

Variously known as MAN ON A STRING, CONFESSIONS OF A COUNTERSPY and ON THE ROPE this is an engrossing cold war spy thriller about a Russian born American film producer (played by the ever excellent Ernest Borgnine) who is tricked into working for Russia in order to save his family. Discovered by the American intelligence service he reluctantly becomes a double agent before realising the error of his ways and undertaking an undercover mission to Moscow. Made in a straight forward semi-documentary style and well acted by the entire cast, particularly Borgnine. Kerwin Mathews has a featured role and Glenn Corbett plays an American agent. Surprisingly the film, while obviously anti-communist in tone, is very complimentary to the Russian social achievements and the Russian people and the documentary footage of life under the "Red Menace" is fairly even handed except when dealing with the political overlords. Therefor it manages to avoid the over-the-top hysteria of such reds under the beds films of a few years earlier such as John Wayne's BIG JIM McLAIN. Andre De Toth is an interesting director, probably best remembered for his 3-d horror movie HOUSE OF WAX but also responsible for many interesting films such a the offbeat DAY OFTHE OUTLAW and the war film PLAY DIRTY. Rating ***

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