Espionage in Tangiers (1965)

Director: Gregg Tallas
Starring: Luis Davila, José Greci, Perla Cristal, Thomas Blanco, Ana Castor, Alfonso Rojas, Barta Barry, Joe Camel
Music: Benedetto Ghiglia

Louis Davila is back, or Louis Devill as he is sometimes known. It’s a great name for a villain, but here he is once again as the rather brutish spy hero, Mike Murphy. In fact this may even be the first appearance of Mike Murphy because I haven’t been able to work out if Espionage In Tangiers or Ypotron was made first – and if they are in fact meant to be a two film series. Maybe as both films starred Davila, some marketing guy decided to lump them together — and renamed the character for American release! But that doesn’t really matter — all you really need to know is Davila is a sandy haired mountain of a man who smiles a lot — especially if he is beating up on someone.

The movie opens at the I.A.E.A (International Atomic Energy Agency) building. It is late in the evening and a guard is doing his rounds. He checks the doors – they all seem secure. Inside three scientist, Professor Griff and his two assistants, are going through the final vital stages of an experiment, which if successful will create the most dangerous weapon that mankind has ever dreamed of. This deadly weapon has been commissioned by the United Nations Security Council. This scientific breakthrough involves a small piece of metal whipping around in a centrifuge. Once it has finished spinning, Professor Griff places the metal square into a specially built hand gun. Then he goes to the window; opens it; and takes aim at a car sitting in the street. He fires and a pale blue beam of light comes from the weapon. Initially it looks to have no effect, but slowly the vehicle begins to vanish. Not invisible mind you — completely gone.

Griff goes to the phone to call the UN and report his success. Meanwhile one of his assistants goes to the bathroom; pops open a window and signals to an unseen party, by flicking the light on and off three times. Next, a rope drops from the roof, and two guys dressed in black climb down and crawl through the window. These bad guys, now inside, kill the two assistants — including the ‘stooley’ who signaled them in. Once they have the weapon (which is actually a tiny little metallic plate which goes inside the gun) they turn on each other. The guy with the gun, shoots the other guy then flees. Talk about tying up loose ends. Griff, of course, who was out of the room making his phone call, manages to survive.

The surviving thief, rappels down the side of the building and rushes to the waiting getaway car. As he hands over the weapon, the receiver winds up the car window, crushing the thief’s throat. The car races off with him still trapped in the window, until he snaps free and rolls into the gutter dead. Once again – I reiterate – talk about tying up loose ends. So far they film has had six characters and four are already dead.

When we meet Mike Murphy, he’s on the job — not spying, but making out with a dolly bird on a chaise lounge when the phone rings. Naturally he doesn’t want to answer it because he is using his mouth for other things. After the second call he reluctantly answers — it’s HQ — he has to go in. At HQ, Murph is introduced to Professor Griff and a gent named Charleston who is the head of the Atomic Research Investigation Branch (A.R.I.B.). They explain that the stolen plate was the key component to a ‘Molecular Disintegration Ray’ — and the murderers have got away with it. It’s Murphy’s job to find it. The only lead comes from Tangier. A.R.I.B. sent out photos of the dead perpetrators and one man was recognised by an agent in Tangiers — Murph is sent there to make contact.

Before Murphy’s flight has even landed he has made contact with two enemy agents. One is the beautiful Lea Randall (José Greci). The other is the not quite so beautiful Arlette Steiner (Ana Castor). Obviously they are all after same thing and as the story progresses these characters cross each others paths on numerous occasions. Upon landing, Murph is greeted at the airport by an assassins bullet. Luckily the bullet lodges in the pages of a book Murph was carrying in his top pocket.

Murph then checks in at his hotel and prepares to meet his contact — Mr. Hasseen Rhaba. But before Murph can make contact, Rhaba is murdered in his hotel room. Murph takes care of the killer before he can make his getaway, but now this leaves him with no leads whatsoever. In a lucky co-incidence, at that moment the phone rings and Murph pretends that he is Rhaba and finds out the contact details for the next person in the chain. Rhaba was to meet a fellow called Jules Martin at a cafe in the Casbah. Murph turns up at the designated times in Rhaba’s stead, but before Murphey can glean any information, Martin ends up with a knife in his back — and another narrowly misses Murphy. The body count continues to rise in relation to the plot convolution.

The fight scenes in Espionage in Tangiers are reasonably well choreographed and Louis Davila looks like he can throw a punch — and if it connected, it would hurt. Good thing too, because Murphy is one secret agent who likes to throw his weight around. He gets into brawls in a hotel room, the cargo hold of a ship, a coffin makers workshop, and in a nightclub. At one stage he even applies a blowtorch to one of the villains feet. Later he throws a knife into the throat of a henchman — all the while grinning like the Cheshire Cat. One thing’s for sure, Murphy means business. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the guy is a psychopath, rather than a slick secret agent.

While I enjoyed Espionage in Tangiers, it is not really a top tier Eurospy film. Davilla’s Ypotron is a far more entertaining film. But what this film has got going for it is that it is available in a pretty snazzy widescreen transfer from Dark Sky films, which makes the viewing experience pretty enjoyable. Ypotron on the other hand is only available from grey market sellers and the transfer is diabolical.

Despite what you may have read or heard, George Lazenby is not in this film!

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