Thursday 18 May 2023

Movie Review: The Cape Town Affair (1967)

Genre: Cold War Spy Thriller
Director: Robert D. Webb
Running Time: 100 minutes

Synopsis: On a crowded bus in Cape Town, South Africa, pick-pocket Skip McCoy (James Brolin) steals the wallet of courier Candy (Jacqueline Bisset). He is unaware that she is under surveillance by government agents, and that the wallet contains a top secret microfiche coveted by communist spies. The authorities turn to professional snitch Sam (Claire Trevor) to track Skip down, as he pursues a romance with the increasingly desperate Candy.

What Works Well: This remake of 1953's Pickup On South Street benefits from bright Cape Town locations, two attractive stars in Jacqueline Bisset and James Brolin (both in early career performances), and a flamboyant Claire Trevor. The jazzy Joe Kentridge music score is not bad.

What Does Not Work As Well: Although Samuel Fuller is still credited as a writer, director Robert D. Webb strips out all the noir grittiness, and Brolin offers superficial style rather than gnarly substance. The result is artistically bland tedium, the focus on small characters (a pickpocket and a courier) flailing within skimpy plot details. The apartheid-era South African production portrays a whites-only society, and beyond the three stars, the supporting actors are wooden at best.

Conclusion: Adds nothing to the original, but subtracts plenty.

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