Friday, April 8, 2016

CODE 7, VICTIM 5 (1964) & MOZAMBIQUE (1964) (Blu-ray Review)

CODE 7, VICTIM 5 (1964) / MOZAMBIQUE (1964)
Blu-ray Double Feature

Label: Blue Underground 
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 88I89 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD Mono with Optional English SDH 
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Robert Lynn
Cast: Lex Barker, Ann Smyrner, Ronald Fraser, Veronique Vendell I Steve Cochran, Hildegard Knef, Paul Hubschmid

CODE 7, VICTIM 5 (1967) 

Synopsis: The first victim is the butler of South African millionaire Wexler, who hires hard-hitting private eye Steve Martin for protection. Once at Wexler's palatial Cape Town estate, Martin meets the patriarch's family, close associates - and possible suspects. When it's discovered that the key to the killing may lie in an old war photograph, Martin sets out on a mission to unravel the identities of the men in the picture before they become target two through VICTIM 5. 


Synopsis: Following a deadly plane crash, an out-of-work American pilot accepts a mysterious job offer flying cargo between Lisbon and Mozambique, only to find himself embroiled in a deadly world of drug smuggling, kidnapping, and murder. Can he survive long enough to discover the criminal mastermind's identity and escape with a sultry lounge singer from MOZAMBIQUE? 

Blue Underground bring us a 007-styled double feature from the notorious writer/producer Harry Alan Towers, a man who at various times was reported to be a provider of vice, a pimp and even a suspected Soviet spy! Back in the '64 though he was a writer/producer cashing in on the wave of Bond Mania following the box office juggernaut success of Dr. No and From Russia with Love with two African-set sort-of spy thrillers. First up we have the snazzy titled Code 7, Victim 5 starred the impeccably tanned blond hunk Lex Barker as Steve Martin, a NYC based P.I. summoned to Cape Town South Africa by mineral magnate Wexler (Walter Rilla) to investigate the death of Wexler's butler during a parade procession at the start of the movie, in a very nicely set-up murder sequence.

Among the could-be culprits are Wexler's cute Secretary Helga Swenson (Ann Smyrner), his adopted and horny daughter Gina (Veronique Vendell), her boyfriend Dr. Paul Bison (Dietmar Schonherr) and some other assorted might-be murderers. The movie has a certain low-rent charm about it, Towers assembled a good cast of characters and a decent spy-thriller type script, plus shooting in south Africa lent some serious production value to the cash-strapped movie, including the oddly-set ostrich farm and a fun cavern escapade. There's also a pretty great underwater spear-fishing scene gone awry, and Towers of course could not resist a lion mauling at one point, they are in south Africa after all.

No sooner has the P.I arrived and departed from the airport when someone attempts to run the guy off a winding road, ending in a brutal death for the would-be assassins, and this is where we get our first Bond-worthy quip from Barker who looks over the roadside cliff and observes "bad brakes", which is just good stuff for a knock-off of a Bond movie, this gets things off to a fun start right from the word go. 

The movie plays on like this for sometime, a fun private-eye movie dressed up as a spy-thriller set to an African landscape that looks great on film. Baxter strikes quite a figure, I loved his interactions with round-faced Police Inspector Lean (Ronald Fraser), a peculiarly small-mouthed man who loves the ladies and doesn't manage to do much inspecting, which is pretty much par for the course.

The other half of the double-bill comes by way of Mozambique, a noir-thriller set in east Africa also directed by Ronald Fraser, which again opens with a pre-credit murder sequence that ends with a knifing. Enter a disgraced American commercial pilot named Brad Webster (Steve Cochran) who is brought into the picture to work for the mysterious Colonel Valdez. Webster's back story has him as the lone survivor of a commercial airline disaster in which he was the pilot! Right from the start he's aboard a plane bound for Lisbon, East Africa, nervously seated next to lounge singer named Christina (Vivi Bach) who we find out is also employed by Valdez. Once Webster arrives he discovers that Valdez had been murdered, and gets caught up in a seedy smuggling ring that puts both he and Christina in imminent danger, with her being kidnapped at the hands of crooked Sheik! Honestly, this one was not as fun for me as Code 7, Victim 5 for a few reasons. while the locations again look great I found that the action set pieces were fewer are far between, on top of that the cast seems decidedly under skilled, and Steve Cochran pales in comparison to Lex Barker. 

Both movies arrive together on a single-disc Blu-ray from Blue Underground framed in the scope 2.35 aspect ratio sourced from the original camera negative, both looking abundantly grainy and a bit on the bright side, but very nice. The only extra on the disc are two 2 minute HD trailers for the movies, what this needed is a mini doc on producer Harry Alan Towers who by all accounts was quite a character. I do believe this is the first time that either movie has appeared on any home video format, so if you dig cheap '60s Bond knock-off there's a lot here to enjoy, have at it.