Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

That Man in Istanbul (1965)
Available from European Trash Cinema | Review by Dan Taylor

Nasty criminal types (including Klaus Kinski as Dr. Schenck) with plans for world domination through nuclear arms try to throw off Uncle Sam by blowing up a plane carrying two government agents and what appears to be Professor Pendergast (Umberto Raho), a nuclear scientist who was being held for $1 million ransom. Luckily, the faux scientist's foot survived the blast (!) and quick-thinking American agents realize that they've been duped. Saucy FBI agent Kenny (Sylva Koscina) and her magnificent 60s breasts recognize American ex-pat Tony Massinas (Horst Bucholz) in one of the surveillance photos and she sets off to Istanbul to see how the nightclub-owning playboy is involved in the scheme.

Turns out Masssinas isn't involved and though he has no love lost for the country that booted him out and killed his father, the thought of recovering the $1 million dollar ransom spurs him into action. Pretty soon he's helping Kenny sift through a United Nations of bad guys to get to the bottom of things, save the professor and find the dough.

Actually, despite her FBI pedigree it seems like Tony's the one doing all the work and Koscina sadly disappears for large chunks of the action. At least the producers know to throw us some more eye candy every now and then and we're treated to the equally curvy Perrette Pradier as the mysterious Elisabeth Furst as well as numerous scenes set around swimming pools and bath houses.

Clocking in at almost two hours, THAT MAN IN ISTANBUL (not to be confused with OUR MAN IN MARRAKESH starring Tony Randall and Kinski) suffers from refusing to know when to quit. The first hour is quite entertaining, complete with the ransom exchange gone horribly wrong, a winning performance from Bucholz as the smug man of action, and some action sequences worthy of a certain popular 60s spy franchise. (Even the score by Georges Gararentz will remind viewers of the globe-hopping pop orchestration found in the Bond flicks.) We even get Koscina stripping down to her bra and panties for an evaluation by Massinas and his trusty sidekicks Bogo and Brain. (I kid you not.) After looking her over and declaring they'd seen better the trio dub her "Miss Babyfat," a nickname that sticks throughout the flick.

Unfortunately, the first hour's cinematic goodwill gets thrown out the window and the flick puts Tony into one predicament too many as the story spastically lurches toward the finale. And even then the producers don't feel like we've gotten our money's worth and treat us to an additional ten minutes that might as well have a 'Tacked On Epilogue' title card before it.

Fellow Kinski fans shouldn't get too excited by the actor's appearance in the pre-credit ransom sequence. Sure, we get some sinister dial twisting from the star, but he's MIA for the next hour or so. When he returns for an energetic fight scene with anti-hero Massinas you'll be glad he did. How anyone could have seen this film at the time and not cast him as a villain or henchman in a Bond flick is beyond me. A small supporting role, but as always the man leaves his mark.

I don't have a ton of Eurospy experience to compare THAT MAN to but I'd give it a grudging recommendation based on the action sequences, great locations, curvy 60s eye candy, top-notch supporting Klaus, and a sense of fun without being insulting. A minor effort in the 60s spy sweepstakes but not bad at all.

Poster shown available from MovieGoods.com.

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