Tip Not Included is the fourth film in the West German series of Jerry Cotton films. As with most entries in the series it plays more like a detective story than a spy film. Jerry deals more with your garden variety hoodlum and scum, than your megalomaniac with plans to take over the world. The series, while being action packed, suffered from minuscule budgets. The films are chock full of American stock footage and most of the big set pieces are done using rear projection with varying degrees of success. Before I begin the review, I would like to say Tip Not Included, has some of the sloppiest, laugh inducing rear projection I have ever seen.
The film! We launch into some seriously swinging titles, with a montage of Jerry’s red E-type Jaguar, shots being fired from a pistol and neon lights, all accompanied by Peter Thomas jazzy score. It gets the film off on the right foot. Jerry (George Nader) emerges from the titles and swaggers into a nightclub, checks out some booty as it wiggles past, and then orders a double scotch.
Also sitting at the bar is Thomas Wheeler (Christian Doermer). Wheeler is a chemist who has been out of work for quite a while but has stumbled onto a scheme that might help him out of his predicament…but more on that later. At the moment Wheeler is at the club to see Phylis Vernon (Yvonne Monlaur) who is a singer at the club. As Phylis warbles out a pleasing torch song, two thugs enter the club and forcibly remove Wheeler from his barstool. Outside the hoodlums start to give Wheeler a good pounding, but of course, Jerry has tailed them outside and intervenes. Jerry overpowers the brutes and has them handcuffed for the police, but in the commotion Wheeler has disappeared. Not even a thank you! Jerry consoles Phylis and gives her his card.
Wheeler stumbles back to his apartment and finds a man, bathed in shadow waiting for him. Whatever Wheeler’s money-making scheme is it seems as if there is another interested party. Wheeler is offered a deal. ‘50-50 or you a dead man!’ Wheeler naturally accepts. And he accept a miniature radio, so he can communicate with his new silent partner.
What is Wheeler’s scheme I hear you ask? Wheeler is working for a gang headed by Charles Anderson (Horst Tappert), another of New York’s leading mobsters. Anderson’s gang, who’s secret base is a wrestling arena, are planning to hold up an armoured car that leaves from the Treasury Clearing House on Wall Street every day. It is Wheeler’s job to come up with the smokepots that will be used in the robbery.
On the next morning the Treasury Clearing House is preparing for it’s usual delivery. The Head Of The Treasury, Mr Clark, is waiting for his Chief Controller, George Davis (Ullrich Haupt) to arrive, before sending his shipment off. But Davis had been mugged the night before and was now in the Riverside Hospital. The money shipment is postponed.
It’s time for the F.B.I.’s best man, Jerry Cotton to go to work. Mr High, Jerry’s boss contacts him on his car phone. High suspects the mugging is related to the money transfer but cannot be sure. Jerry goes to the hospital to interview Davis. Davis is of little help to Jerry. In fact his responses border on antagonistic. Next Jerry interviews, Mr Clark, the Head of the Treasury. Jerry suggests that the days money shipment should go ahead, but with an unladen van. That way if a robbery attempt was made, the cash wouldn’t be at risk. Clark agrees and the armoured van is sent off.
Through a set of binoculars, perched high on the penthouse floor of a high rise building, Anderson watches as the armoured vans unload their precious cargo. Anderson realises that the van being sent out is just a rouse. Even though his men are is position, he postpones the robbery.
Using the radio given to him, by his silent partner, Wheeler tries to make contact, but is discovered by one of Anderson’s men. Wheeler flees and a highway chases ensues. Wheeler ends up driving his car into a ditch and it explodes in a ball of flame. But Anderson doesn’t know who Wheeler was working for. He formulates a plan to capture Phylis and pry the information from her.
Meanwhile at the Treasury Department, Jerry advises Mr. Clark not to ship any money until all the loose ends regarding Davis’ mugging are tied up. Clark ignores Jerry and loads armoured van with a total of thirteen million dollars worth of bank notes and diamonds. From his hi-rise position Anderson watches as the van is loaded and alerts his gang that the heist is going ahead.
The van follows its regular route out of the city. Anderson’s men are ready and as the van drives under an overpass a magnetic bomb drops down, first to the road, and then attaches itself to the underside of the van as it passes over it. The bomb is detonated by remote control by Anderson and the van crumples like an aluminium beer can under foot.
A circular necklace of smokepots are set off around the wreck and Anderson’s goons, wearing smokemasks steal the contents of the armoured van and load it into the back of an ambulance. As the police arrive on the scene, the gang simply drive off in the ambulance under the nose of the constabulary.
As head of the Treasury, Clark doesn’t take news of the heist well. He blames himself for not listening to Jerry Cotton’s advice. Like a circling pack of vultures, the Press are outside his office and want his head on a platter. Despondently, he pulls a gun from his desk drawer and is about to blow his brains out, when Jerry bursts into the room and stops him. To relieve the pressure from Clark, Jerry announces to the Press that it was his idea that the armoured shipment proceed. But Jerry’s act of kindness backfires, as Clark has a heart attack and dies. And now, the true facts are buried, and the public is baying for Jerry’s blood.
In the aftermath, F.B.I. chief, Mr High, has no option but to suspend Jerry from active duty. Jerry’s occasional partner, Phil Decker takes over Jerry’s case load. As a piece of parting advice, Jerry’s suggests to check the morgue. After a robbery of this size, there usually is strife between the perpetrators, often resulting in murder. He tells Phil to check for hints of the smoke used in the robbery.
After the robbery, Anderson’s gang still has unfinished business with Phylis Vernon. She is kidnapped and locked in an office at a rail yard. Luckily for her, the phone is still connected and she calls Jerry Cotton (with the details on the card that he gave her at the start of the film). She gives Jerry directions to where she is being held. But it is all a trap. Anderson has tapped the phone.
When Jerry arrives, he drives into a veritable shower of bullets. Taking deliberate aim, Jerry shoots at a rail petrol tanker. The tanker explodes in a giant mushroom of flame. Anderson and his hoods flee the scene. Jerry rescues Phylis, but is promptly arrested for blowing up the tanker, after all, he isn’t an F.B.I. agent any more.
Phil Decker is called to the rescue and bails Jerry and Phylis out of trouble. Afterwards, Jerry takes Phylis back to her home. Inside, he stumbles on a program from a wrestling match. Upon enquiry, Phylis says it was Wheelers. He went there occasionally. Jerry believes it is a clue, and that evening Phylis and Jerry attend the wrestling. Observing from his office above the bleachers, Anderson plans a trap for Jerry and Phylis. After a regulation bit of biffo, Anderson’s men capture Jerry and the girl and lock them a supply room.
Anderson decides it’s time to bug out and retrieves the stolen money from his hiding place at the arena. As the suitcases are brought out, Anderson is jumped by the mysterious other party who was after the cash. Yes, we finally meet the man who was Wheeler’s silent partner. It is George Davis, the Treasury controller. It appears he knew that Anderson was planning something. And he even faked his own mugging, so a double shipment would be transported and the take would increase. Davis and Anderson agree to split the loot.
While this is all happening, Jerry isn’t sitting on his hands. First he cuts the ropes around his wrists by rubbing them against an oil heater. Then he crawls into a ventilation duct and snakes his way out of the building, towards the roof. The roof just happens to be a hive of activity, as Davis and Anderson are about to board a helicopter with the money.
Naturally enough though, Davis becomes greedy and as Anderson is about to board the helicopter he receives a bullet in the belly. The helicopter lifts off and begins to move away from the building. But you cannot escape from Jerry Cotton that easily. Jerry takes a running jump, flying through the air he grabs the helicopter’s landing strut. The rear projection is these scenes, where Jerry is seen dangling from a helicopter while the New york skyline whizzes past is extremely poor. Actually poor, is probably a kind description. I think ‘laughable’ is a more apt description.
As with most of the reviews found on this blogsite, I try not to give the ending away. So I’ll leave you, dear reader, and Jerry hanging…but Jerry Cotton will return.
Tip Not Included, is a small step down from the last installment in the Jerry Cotton series (3-2-1 Countdown For Manhattan) but still reasonable entertainment, if you can get over the technical deficiencies. One strong point in it’s favour is George Nader. He grounds the films and gives them a sense of continuity. The fact he appears in all the films in the series creates an almost familial ambiance. After all, most Eurospy films feature different actors in each installment (OSS 117, Coplan etc.).
This review is based on the JSV / Giantox Entertainment Holland DVD