Director: Don Sharp
Screenplay: Peter Welbeck (aka Harry Alan Towers)
Starring: Tony Randall, Herbert Lom, Terry-Thomas, Klaus Kinski, Senta Berger, Wilfred Hyde-White, John Le Mesurier, Burt Kwok
Running Time: 90 mins
BBFC Classification: PG
A peculiar looking henchman (Kinski) slyly takes photos of various people arriving at the main bus terminal in Marrakesh – he is looking for a courier. Included in the new arrivals is our ‘hero’, Andrew Jessel, a US businessman taking temporary leave to do some sightseeing. Other official-looking people who are likely candidates to be the courier are a Mr Lillywhite (John Le Mesurier) and a Mr Fairbrother, played by the ubiquitous (at this time) Wilfred Hyde-White; and along for the ride is the beautiful Ms Kyra Giselle, who later becomes the hero’s love interest.
It turns out that the ever creepy Kinski is working for criminal mastermind Casimir, played with Bond villain sophistication by Herbert Lom. Casimir is planning on exchanging some highly sensitive documents that have come into his possession with a courier who’ll be carrying $2 million, assuming said courier is satisfied by the documents themselves. However, Casimir also knows that others are trying to put a stop to this trade-off and he sends his minions out to prevent interference, particularly since he doesn’t know who the real courier is yet.
On finding a dead body in his room, our confused American friend, Jessel, finds himself getting close to Kyra, who is more than she appears to be, and soon the two of them are stealing said documents, and on the run from Casimir’s nasty goons. Comedy spy-like hijinks ensue, or do they?
Sensing that perhaps spy flicks were the way to make some real money, infamous exploitation producer Harry Alan Towers put together this rather odd, but very colourful espionage caper film in the mid-sixties. H. A. Towers was very good at amassing starry casts and then wasting them in films that did little to engage their talents and this is a good example.
Our Man in Marrakesh never really breaks out of second gear and is severely limited by a fairly weak script, courtesy of Harry himself. A shame really as there’s a lot of potential here. The locations are great, the actors all look the part, and the direction is decent enough for the most part, but it just seems to drag when it needs to soar.
Tony Randall (Odd Couple) seems a bit bemused by his surroundings and co-stars, and lacks the charisma needed to play the lead in this sort of spy film – he’s no Cary Grant, that’s for sure! Herbert Lom oozes sophisticated menace, but his dialogue is limited to saying things like: ‘You interest me…’ to various people. And other good actors are wasted in bit parts such as John Le Mesurier (Dad’s Army) who only has about three short scenes. And poor Burt Kwok, so great in the ‘Pink Panther’ films, is relegated to sitting on a bench, looking mildly confused and then dying on said bench in a later scene.
Other problems affecting the viability of the film include an over-reliance on dodgy back-projection during the driving scenes, some cornball dialogue that does little to enhance the player’s performances, and I’m really not so sure on the final tone of the film. As a comedy it’s all a bit too affected and as a drama it’s all too light, and even worse, for me anyway, the action wasn’t particularly convincing either…
However, director Don Sharp, a veteran of many Hammer productions, at least makes sure everyone hits their marks, has a good grasp on the colourful crowd scenes, and keeps the eyes happy throughout, with plenty of local colour and stimulus. Plus any film that has the late, great Terry-Thomas in, playing yet another eccentric English aristocrat, namely El Caid – but this time with an army of camel-riding, rifle-shooting Bedouins as his disposal – can’t be all bad!
Our Man in Marrakesh has been released on DVD and is being distributed by Network Distributing who are currently releasing lots of these rarer British film titles, some of which are pretty decent.
Extras consist of the original theatrical trailer, and an image gallery consisting of 23 images, which include six posters, one of which sees the film twinned with ‘Invasion’ and another promoted under the alternative title of ‘Bang, Bang! You’re dead’.