Diplomatic Courier


1h 37m 1952

Brief Synopsis

Department of State courier Mike Kelly ends up in postwar hotbed Trieste after failing to collect a package from a colleague. The Military Police are happy for him to get more involved, but things get a bit tough. After all, he is just a postman.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1952
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Jun 1952; Los Angeles opening: 25 Jul 1952
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Bucharest,Romania; Paris,France; Salzburg,Austria; Trieste,Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Sinister Errand by Peter Cheyney (New York, 1945).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,779ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

On 9 Apr 1950, the communications section of the Department of State receives an urgent message and immediately requests a diplomatic courier to undertake a secret assignment. The courier chosen is Mike Kells, who is instructed to meet his old Navy pal, Sam Carew, at the train station in Salzburg. There, Sam, who works in the Bucharest legation, is to give Mike a document to transport to Washington, D.C. When he boards a plane bound for Salzburg, the exhausted Mike falls asleep on the shoulder of Joan Ross, an American widow whose late husband also worked for the State Department. When Mike awakens, the seductive Joan flirts with him and gives him a lift to the train station. Mike regretfully states that he cannot pursue a relationship with Joan, although she promises to look him up. At the station, Mike is baffled when Sam ignores him, but observes that he is being followed by two thugs. Uncertain what to do, Mike follows Sam onto the train, and sits in the dining car with a lovely Czech woman. Mike then sees Sam hurry into the woman's compartment, but when he tries to approach Sam soon after, Sam shakes his head and disappears. Mike searches for him, and when the train goes through a tunnel, is shocked to see the two thugs toss Sam off the train. Mike takes Sam's mutilated body to a nearby military base and there, Col. Mark Cagle, of the criminal investigation division, and his aide, Sgt. Ernie Guelvada, interrogate Mike, who admits that he did not receive Sam's document. Cagle wonders if the woman Mike spotted is involved and arranges for him to go to Trieste, so that he can identify her when she disembarks. Ernie reprimands Cagle for not telling Mike that he is being used as bait for the Russian agents who were seeking Sam's information, but Cagle dismisses his concerns. Ernie then accompanies Mike to Trieste, which, since the end of World War II, has been swarming with secret agents on all sides of the Cold War. Using several clues, Mike learns that the woman's name is Janine Betki, and when he questions the local military police, they inform him that Janine slipped off the train outside of Trieste during a routine passport check. Wondering if Janine, an entertainer, would try to get a job, Mike goes to a nearby nightclub, and there runs into Joan, who confesses that she used an embassy contact to find him. While Joan bids farewell to some friends, Mike is approached by a man who offers him Sam's watch, which Mike recognizes immediately, and gives him Janine's address. When Mike tries to question the man further, he runs from the nightclub and is hit by a car, which narrowly misses Mike. Although he believes that Janine set him up to be killed, Mike goes to her apartment, where she is bewildered by his hostility. Janine reveals that she and Sam were in love, and that she had worked as a double-agent for him while he was trying to get her to America. Janine also explains that Sam was aware of the thugs on the train, which is why he did not acknowledge Mike, and that he must have given Mike the clues that led to his identification of her. Mike doubts Janine's story, but when she recounts several facts that only Sam could have known, Mike is convinced that she is telling the truth. Their conversation is interrupted by a pounding at the door, and after Mike leaves, he is beaten by two men. Ernie rescues Mike and takes him to Cagle, who refutes Janine's story by asserting that she is a well-known Russian agent who was placed on the suspect list by Sam himself. The bewildered Mike insists on knowing what Sam was trying to smuggle to Washington, and Cagle reveals that it was the "complete Communist timetable," including information about an invasion of Yugoslavia. Later, Joan insists that Mike come to her hotel, where she tells him that a sniper shot into her room and just missed her. Suspecting that Mike has gotten her involved in a dangerous matter, Joan demands the truth, but Mike evades her questions. After Mike leaves, Rasumny Platov, the head of the Soviet Secret Police in Europe, visits Joan, who bitterly states that she has never had such trouble insinuating herself with a target. Outside the hotel, Janine finds Mike and tells him that she now knows where the document is, and that he must meet her at her apartment that night. Mike reluctantly goes to her flat, where Janine tells him that she wants safe passage to America in exchange for the document. Mike agrees but Janine is distracted by a phone call she believes is from Sam, who apparently is not dead. Mike mistakenly thinks that she is trying to set him up and storms out, then deduces that the document must have been a piece of microfilm hidden in Sam's watch. Re-tracing Janine's steps, Mike locates the watch in a repair shop but leaves before the owner can tell him that he cleaned the watch and found something inside it. Mike and Ernie race to his hotel, but as Mike begins to open the watch, Joan enters the room and, leveling a pistol at Mike, demands the watch. Joan then tells him that she has been a foreign spy for many years, but Ernie manages to disarm her. Mike then receives a phone call from Cagle, ordering him to meet at a deserted square, but the call is actually from entertainer Maximillian, a Soviet agent who does impersonations. Maximillian was also behind the call to Janine and has lured her to Platov's headquarters. There, Janine tells Platov that she has the document and will give it to him if she is given her freedom. Platov agrees, but before she goes, Janine is able to leave a message for Mike, who is rescued after Platov's men dump him in the harbor. Janine's message enables Cagle to recover the microfilm, but when he states that they cannot help Janine, Mike deduces which train she would be on and finds her. Janine is guarded by Platov, but Mike succeeds in disarming him and climbing out the window with Janine. After the couple roll down a hillside, Janine tells Mike how grateful she is to be free, and he comments on how lovely she looks now that she is "just a girl," rather than the enemy.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1952
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Jun 1952; Los Angeles opening: 25 Jul 1952
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Bucharest,Romania; Paris,France; Salzburg,Austria; Trieste,Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Sinister Errand by Peter Cheyney (New York, 1945).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,779ft (10 reels)

Articles

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.


Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute.

After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland.

TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place:

8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960)
10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963)
1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967)
4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976)

Charles Bronson, 1921-2003

Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81.

He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him.

Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954).

Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West.

These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977).

Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole
Tcm Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13Th - Tcm Remembers Charles Bronson This Saturday, Sept. 13Th 2003.

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.

Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute. After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland. TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place: 8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960) 10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963) 1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967) 4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976) Charles Bronson, 1921-2003 Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81. He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him. Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954). Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West. These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977). Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film opens with a brief voice-over narration describing the duties of the Department of State "diplomatic couriers," who ferry vital documents around the world. According to a June 19, 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item, Richard Widmark was originally set to star in the picture. Stephen McNally was borrowed from Universal for the production. Although Hollywood Reporter news items and studio publicity include the following actors in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed: Pat Hogan, William Bouchet, June Spendlove, Joe Medvitz, Bob Perry, Al Godderis, Stanley Logan, Joe Forte, Harry Bronson, Roger McGee, Paul Marsenic, Ray Montgomery, Martin Berliner, Constantine Shane, Eugene Borden, Arno Frey, James Warren, Adolph Faylauer, Mildred Sellers, Don Turner, Saul Gorss, Russ Saunders, Dick Talmadge, George Murphy, Howard Hansen, Jerry James, Howard Banks, Salvador Baguez, Steve Pritko, Sam Wagner, Joe Hickey, Fred Spitz, Fred Datig, Jr. and Jack Clinton.
       Although reviews refer to Arthur Blake's character as "Max Ralli," he is identified as "Maximillian" in the film. During a nightclub sequence, Blake performs impersonations of Carmen Miranda, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Bette Davis. As noted in several contemporary sources, numerous background and process shots were filmed on location in Trieste, Bucharest, Paris and Salzburg. In a August 27, 1952 article about the mid-August showing of the film in Vienna, Variety claimed that Diplomatic Courier was "based loosely on a railroad tunnel death of U.S. Naval attaché Capt. Eugene Karpe," but no other contemporary sources list Karpe's death as an inspiration for the film.
       According to Hollywood Reporter news items, from 1942 to 1945, Twentieth Century-Fox had plans to produce a film entitled Diplomatic Courier, about the activities of either the diplomatic service or the Office of Strategic Services. At various times, the picture was set to star Don Ameche and be directed by Harold Schuster or Louis de Rochement. It does not appear that that project is related to the final version of Diplomatic Courier, however.