Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Movie Review: Agent 505: Death Trap In Beirut (1966)


A low-budget Eurospy thriller, Agent 505: Death Trap In Beirut features scenic backdrops but depressingly cheap execution.

Several murders occur in Beirut, and rumours swirl that the killings are connected to a plan to annihilate all 650,000 residents of the city. Interpol's Richard Blake (Frederick Stafford) arrives to help local authorities investigate, and connects with fellow agent Bobby O'Toole (Chris Howland). Their mission is to track down the mysterious four-fingered Sheik believed to be behind the plot.

At the hotel Blake meets attractive journalist Denise (Geneviève Cluny) and tangles with a chambermaid spy and a femme fatale room neighbour with an ex-convict for a husband. Clues lead to industrialist Omar Abdullah and a scheme to steal plutonium and mix it with mercury to poison the entire city. Blake and his allies have limited time to escape numerous henchmen, uncover the mastermind and invade the base of the murderous maniacs.

A German-French-Italian co-production, Death Trap In Beirut features a mostly incomprehensible plot, amateurish execution and awful acting. The on-location filming in a pre-war cosmopolitan Beirut (and more broadly Lebanon) is the only watchable element, writer and director Manfred R. Köhler touring famous landmarks including swish beaches, fancy hotels and the Baalbek ruins.

In a cast devoid of talent the performances are almost painful to watch, with Geneviève Cluny the only bright spark. Leading man Frederick Stafford is stiff in movement and delivery and absolutely wooden in the seduction scenes. He is often upstaged by the more spirited Chris Howland in the sidekick role. The bad guys and evil plotters are faceless, useless, and cackle with insane laughter worthy of children's cartoons.

With no narrative coherence the action moves with metronomic choppiness from restaurants to beaches with frequent stops in hotel rooms, always with an eye to capture women in bikinis or barely covered in bed sheets. Shootouts and punch-ups are staged and filmed with all the polish of the first take in a high school student production. Supposedly clever spy gadgets are not worthy of the name.

With all the tedium and none of the fun of trashy movies, Agent 505 falls into a fatal bore trap.






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