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Diplomatic Courier

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    Ian Jane
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  • Diplomatic Courier



    Released by: Fox Cinema Classics

    Released on: June 20, 2012.

    Director: Henry Hathaway

    Cast: Tyrone Power, Patricia Neal, Stephen McNally, Hildegard Knef

    Year: 1952

    Purchase From Amazon


    The Movie:


    Directed by Henry Hathaway and released to theaters in 1952, Diplomatic Courier stars Tyrone Power as Mike Kells, a courier for the government of the United States. When we catch up with him, his assignment is to meet up with a Federal Agent, Sam Carew (James Millican), to get some documents from him and bring them back to Washington D.C., which should be easy enough. Things quickly go downhill for Kells when the meet up doesn't go as planned. Sam winds up dead and Kells doesn't get the documents he was hoping to.


    Before you know it, he's zipping all over Europe pursued by a beautiful widow named Joan Ross (Patricia Neal), who he first meets on an airplane. And then there's the involvement of a European woman named Janine Betki (Hildegard Knef), an agent who may know more about Sam than even Kells himself.


    Very nicely shot by cinematographer Lucien Ballard, Diplomatic Courier seems to have been heavily influenced by The Third Man, from the similarities in the structure of the story to the use of shadowy European locations, albeit with healthy doses of early Hitchcock thrown in for good measure. The movie makes great use of the post World War II European locations to give the film some good, gritty atmosphere while the story moves and twists fairly easily, even if it winds up fizzling out a bit as it approaches the big finish (you'll probably see it coming). A few well played and not at all out of place moments of mild comic relief add to the fun, as does an interesting cast of oddball supporting characters played by a solid cast of actors and actresses.


    Performance wise, Tyrone Power is very solid here. His Cold War era courier shows some believable increasing paranoia as the story starts to unfold, and he handles this aspect of his character rather well. He's confident enough to fit the role well but skilled enough as an actor to show a pretty serious range in this picture. Patricia Neal is excellent as the mysterious and beautiful femme fatale type while Hildegard Knef steals almost every scene she's in, not just because she's gorgeous but because she seems to be quite emotionally attached to her part and really puts herself into the role. A young Charles Bronson can be spotted in a small supporting role as can Lee Marvin while Karl Malden gets a bigger part in the latter half of the film when his character winds up helping Power through a few situations. E.G. Marshall and Michael Ansara both also show up in the movie.


    Understandably the film shows its age in many ways and most viewers won't have too much trouble figuring out who is good and who is bad, but there's enough here that works and its performed by such a solid cast that less discerning fans of spy movies ought to enjoy this one.


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    Diplomatic Courier looks good on this DVD in 1.33.1 fullframe, obviously its original intended aspect ratio. The black and white image is heavy in its grain but detail isn't bad all for a standard definition presentation of an older film. Contrast looks right, black levels are solid and there are no issues with compression artifacts, but some mild print damage shows up here and there.


    The English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mix on the DVD is fine. The levels are properly balanced, the dialogue is crisp and easy to follow and there are no noticeable issues with hiss or distortion to report. The film's score sounds nice and clean and adds some welcome dramatic flair to a few key scenes. There are no alternate language options or subtitles of any kind provided.


    No extras, not even a trailer, just a static menu and chapter selection.


    The Final Word:


    Tyrone Power turns in a solid performance here and the movie offers up some modest thrills and some good suspense despite an ending that should have been stronger than it is. Fox's DVD-R release of Diplomatic Courier looks and sounds okay - not amazing, but okay, and is a decent way to see this one if you're so inclined.






















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