Wednesday, August 11, 2010

1957, STOPOVER TOKYO, a Mr Moto adventure without Mr Moto

Probably one of the lamest spy thrillers ever filmed.  Stopover Tokyo has American intelligence agent Robert Wagner, showing up in Japan to keep the "vodka and caviar" crowd from killing the Japanese ambassador.  While in Japan he gets mixed up with travel agent Joan Collins and spends a lot of time with the cute little Japanese girl of a police officer who is killed by the commies.  He occasionally wanders around looking for communist spies, that's about it.

This film is about as dull as dishwater. If the Cold War was anything like this the Russians apparently planned to bore everyone to death to take over the world.  Robert Wagner is the American agent and he looks like he should really be selling used cars.  Joan Collins is the love interest and this is the period in her career when someone got the brilliant idea that she could play nice girls which contrasts with her later career as the witchy ex-wife on Dynasty.

What this film is really about is Cinemascope, 20th Century Fox's wide screen process.  Cinemascope was the answer to 1950's black and white TV  the lure to get people back into the theater.  The whole idea was to film a lot of scenic shots on location in some foreign country with the actors occasionally running around in front of the scenery.  Even in this area someone screwed up.  The audience gets stunning shots of a golf course and an airport.  Occasionally Mt Fuji shows up in the background, as if it accidentally got into the shot.

Incompetently directed and poorly acted, the almost nonexistent action scenes are so poorly staged it's as if these filmmakers had never actually seen a movie at all much less been trusted to photograph this film in Cinemascope.

The film was based on a Mr Moto story, by John Marquand who wrote mystery stories about a Japanese detective.  However Mr Moto has been removed from this film apparently someone must have thought be would be to dull and uninteresting.

This film is a total failure.

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