SECRET OF STAMBOUL
(1936) James Mason, Valerie Hobson, Frank Vosper, Kay Walsh, Peter Haddon, Cecil Ramage. Before there were James Bond movies, there were movies like Secret of Stamboul. Here is a film filled with flashy, smart gentlemen dressed in an endless wardrobe of snappy suits and tuxedos. There are beautiful heroines everywhere (Hobson is drop-dead gorgeous) waiting to be saved. There are exotic locales (Turkey in this case) teeming with menacing villains and their henchmen, all intent on some sinister plan or purpose. In this film the plot is the overthrowing of the Turkish government. Mason, a British captain, stumbles onto the plot and soon finds his life in grave danger. Enemies of the revolution are taken to a large stone tower at the ocean’s edge, where they are dropped down a shaft to the murky waters below. Vosper is superb in his portrayal of the sinister Kazdim, turning in the kind of over-the-top (yet subtle) performance that would have made Karloff and Lugosi green with envy. The chemistry between Mason and Hobson is delightful. As B British thrillers go, they just don’t come much better than this fast-moving gem. From 16mm.
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