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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Espionage > Action > Cold War > Drama > TV > Canada > Danger Has Two Faces (1966)/The Iron Curtain (1948)/Mr. Moto Takes A Chance (1938/Fox Cinema Archive DVDs)/Once You Kiss a Stranger (1969/Warner Archive DVD)/Revolt Of The Slaves (1960/United Artists/

Danger Has Two Faces (1966)/The Iron Curtain (1948)/Mr. Moto Takes A Chance (1938/Fox Cinema Archive DVDs)/Once You Kiss a Stranger (1969/Warner Archive DVD)/Revolt Of The Slaves (1960/United Artists/MGM Limited Edition Collection)/The Squeeze (1977/Warner Archive DVD)/Synchronicity (2015/MagNet/Magnolia Blu-ray)

Picture: C/C/C+/C+/C+/C/B Sound: C/Blu-ray: B Extras: D/Blu-ray: C+ Films: C+/C+/C/C+/C+/C+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Danger Has Two Faces, Iron Curtain, Mr. Moto and Revolt Of The Slaves DVDs are all web-only limited edition releases and can be ordered through the sidebar while supplies last, while Once You Kiss A Stranger and The Squeeze are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's an interesting set of mixed-result genre films for you to know about...

John Newland's Danger Has Two Faces (1966) is a spy feature film made of three episodes of a Fox TV series called The Man Who Never Was, ran only 18 half-hours and was cancelled, though it was shot entirely in Europe. Because they thought it had a good idea (Robert Lansing as an agent who looks exactly like an assassinated man whose identity he takes over to solve cases) appealed to them, so they cut this faux feature film out of three episodes including the pilot, though we have no episode guide to identify the other shows.

Dana Wynter plays the widow, though she is unaware her real husband is dead and it takes some time for her to figure out something is wrong, but is far from happy about it. In the meantime, Murray Hamilton plays his spy contact, working with him on each case. It is hard to tell here where the show was going, but it was ambitious and Newland (best known as the host for Twilight Zone precursor One Step Beyond) created this show proving he could not resit some kind of bizarre twist; even in another genre.

This is not bad overall and makes me want to see the whole series, which Fox ought to issue and Lansing was always a compelling actor. The couple (she starts to get to know him better) drive around in a nice Bentley and is one of the many spy shows made in the wake of the first Bond films and their huge success. Though you can tell this is not a real movie or telefilm, this compilation feature is worth a good look.

William A. Wellman's The Iron Curtain (1948 aka Behind The Iron Curtain) is one of the early anti-Communist propaganda film and wow, does it lay it on heavy telling the 'true' story of a KGB spy (Dana Andrews) for the Soviet Union pretending to be Canadian while helping to run a secret spy ring in Canada. He has a wife (Gene Tierney), a job and secret desk missions and assignments figuring out codes, plans, plots and more. However, when they start to see how good a free life is and have a baby, he starts to have a change of heart. How can he expose the USSR operation and be believed?

Milton Krims script goes way out of its way to show the differences between the joyless coldness of Soviet living and 'warm, happy' life in the free world invoking everything from singing, to family, to religion, to a free press and much more in what became a model for these films into the 1960s. Though it can be a bit much and preachy to boot, it is also a sad time capsule of how dark and ugly those times got when it seemed we had an ally after WWII, but it was just the beginning of the next world-scale battle. June Havoc, Barry Kroeger and Edna Best are among the decent supporting cast and this one too is definitely worth a look.

Norman Foster's Mr. Moto Takes A Chance (1938) is one of the lesser-entries in the detective series with Peter Lorre as the Asian (even if the actor was not Asian) detective who was as good as disguises and judo as he was at thinking. This time, he pretends to be an archeologist to pinpoint a secret operation in a far-off jungle hiding behind a crazy native spiritual dictator. A camera crew (from the American Society of Cinematographers yet!) happen to be around filming when a female pilot (Rochelle Hudson) and the two head guys (Robert Kent and J. Edward Bromberg) go to find she has survived as does Moto.

However, this entry gets lazy when they rely too much on the make-up gag, too much humor, a weak mystery and so-so action. This was part of a series meant to recreate the box office success of Fox's Charlie Chan films (see more about them elsewhere on this site), but it was not to be and this entry sure did not help. It looks really good, but it is a disappointment and even I forgot how weak it was.

Robert Sparr's Once You Kiss a Stranger (1969) has the beautiful Carol Lynley in her climb to stardom as a young woman who seems a bit irritated, but turns out to be on the psychotic side taking a liking to a golf pro Jerry Marshall (Paul Burke) who I not putting as well as usual, something she sees on the TV coverage of the game. She is sick of her family and therapist, so she decides to kill Jerry's big rival (Philip Carey), tells Jerry about it in advance and expects him to do some killing for her or she'll say he killed him and also has fun with early black and white, reel-to-reel videotape.

She sleeps with Jerry, secretly taping them before the murder announcement and intends to manipulate the audio to it sounds like he was 100% behind her killing the rival. The first half of the film has its moments and Lynley is good here as are the rest of the cast, but the script gets in real trouble in the second half of the film, with near-idiot plotting that helps no one and I'll add that the way the videotape is used and 'edited' turns out to be totally impossible, but I won't say more except that the film is very, very sloppy on that count.

However, this looks good and though is a disappointing film, worth a look for what does work. Martha Hyer, Peter Lynd James and Stephen McNally also star.

Nunzio Malasomma's Revolt Of The Slaves (1960) might seem like it would be another phony swords-and-sandals romp, but it is more graphic and dark at times than I expected as Lang Jeffries plays a slave the daughter (Rhonda Fleming) of a powerful roman falls for. She is totally for the empire and hates 'those Christians' as much as the rest of the Roman Empire, but some twists and turns will reveal more of her people are defecting than expected as the Empire's days are numbered.

No, this is not a perfect film, but it has more money in it than usual and looks better than expected, though a little dated versus Kubrick's Spartacus from the same year, yet the Totalscope-lensed international production has enough interesting moments to give it a good look. Note that this is an MGM Limited Edition Collection DVD, so get it while supplies last.

Michael Apted's The Squeeze (1977) is an all-British crime film as hard-hitting as many of the films in the cycle (a big surprise from the man who has directed the Up documentary series) with Stacy Keach as an alcoholic Scotland Yard detective Jim Naboth who gets involved with some crazed gangsters out for big money in a big heist they are secretly planning, but have kidnapped the wife/mother and daughter of a prominent man (Edward Fox) for a million-pound ransom. This puts Jim into some bizarre situations and includes some torture, sexploitation and sadism particularly common for the crime genre in British and Italian cinema of the time, just going a bit further than similar U.S. product. In this, we've seen some of this before and done better, but Apted holds back nothing in how dark this gets at times. From a man who made one of the worst Bond film (The World Is Not Enough) and a very underrated thriller not that long before that (Extreme Measures), it remains one of his better films, though it also wants to challenge the genre a bit (as he did with the mixed Thunderheart) so gangster genre fans should see this one at least once and others should expect some hardcore violence.

Jacob Gentry's Synchronicity (2015) is a time travel film that wants to be a Film Noir, but barely gets the first part correct while doing the latter with some style at best. Chad McKnight is a scientist who works for a rich man (Michael Ironside) with some ego and thinks he has found a break in the development in traveling through time with his co-workers, but something is amiss. Thus, he has to take a near-fatal journey back in time to figure out what is wrong, but meets a woman (Brianne Davis) there who may or may not hold the answers he needs and get the invention out of monied hands. Of course, his boss won't like that, but he's got more immediate concerns first.

Well, I hoped this would go somewhere, but it lands up being choppy, having uneven dialogue (people too often sound like they are talking at each other, not to them, but that does not translate to real Noir either) and in the end, I bought very little of this. The actors are trying and when it is not imitating other films, which happens at times, it can be watchable. Too bad most of it is forgettable. Also, Alain Resnais' time travel masterpiece J'Taime, J'Taime (1968) recently hit Blu-ray and that is far ahead and beyond anything 'mind-blowing' here. See both and compare for yourself.

The 1.33 X 1 image on Danger (with some color variances, partly from bring edited together from TV episodes), 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Curtain and anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Squeeze (which received 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor release prints in England) are all well-shot, but these transfers can be a bit soft and weak throughout. Despite this, you can see some great shots here and there in all cases, but not enough of them.

The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Moto (from a particularly good print), the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Kiss and the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Revolt (shot in the anamorphic Totalscope format on 35mm film), all look better and are more consistent throughout. The latter two films were both issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor release prints and you can see how good that looks in both throughout. Revolt is mislisted on the back of the DVD case as a letterboxed transfer, but is from a new transfer.

That leaves us with the digitally-shot 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Synchronicity, which is not only the best-looking transfer here being the only one in HD, but also pretty consistent if not spectacular throughout. Too bad they kept imitating Blade Runner instead of finding their own style, as this looks inferior to that classic all the way.

All the DVDs here are a little on the weak side in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound (all were issued as theatrical monophonic sound releases) so be careful of volume switching and high playback levels. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Synchronicity is well mixed and presented, but lacks character, though I give it credit for even sounding good in quiet moments. It's easily the best-sounding film here.

Extras are totally absent on all 6 DVDs, but the Synchronicity Blu-ray offers an Original Theatrical Trailer, music video, BD Live interactive functions, feature length audio commentary track with Director Gentry trying to explain what he was doing, an on-camera interview with Gentry doing the same thing, plus separate on-camera interviews with co-stars McKnight and Davis.

To order either of the Warner Archive DVDs, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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