The Swiss Conspiracy (1976)

Swiss ConspiracyCountry: United States / West Germany
Director: Jack Arnold
Starring: David Janssen, Senta Berga, John Ireland, John Saxon, Ray Milland, Elke Sommer, Anton Diffring
Music: Klaud Doldinger
Based on the novel by Michael Stanley

The Swiss Conspiracy is one of those movies that has now passed into public domain so you can pick it up for virtually nothing – a few measly coins – not even the price of a glass of beer. I picked it up because I thought it might be a spy film, and you know how obsessive I am about watching spy films. It isn’t though. It’s one of those films that lingers on the cusp – another seventies jet set thriller – although this one lacks jet setting.

The film starts in a swank restaurant and man is having a pleasant meal. A waiter pushes over a trolley, and prepares to serve the meal – but rather than remove the cover from the food, he produces a sawn off shotgun from his pants, turns and fires at the diner. The blast sends the man flying back through a glass window.

We then cut to the titles which are picture postcards of Switzerland accompanied by a cheesy rock tune by Klaus Doldinger – it’s the type of title track that makes you wish that Roy Budd could have composed the score to every seventies crime drama.

You know, I try to like David Janssen. I must admit I am too young to have watched The Fugitive television series in which he appeared and won over many fans. So unfortunately for me though, he is a poor man’s William Holden, and even in the seventies, good roles for Holden were few and far between. That means Janssen got the dregs of the dregs. Here Janssen plays an ex member of the US Justice Department – now he sort of works as an international man of mystery, solving other peoples problems. In this instance the problem is with a Swiss Bank run by Johan Hurtil (Ray Milland) and Franz Benninger (Anton Differing). The Bank is being blackmailed by an unknown group for 10 million Francs. If the Bank does not pay up, then the bad guys will release the details and private account numbers of the bank’s clients to the world. Adding to the pressure, the blackmailers have also approached 5 of the banks clients and demanded that they each pay 1 million Francs or their personal details will be passed on to other parties.

The one thing that The Swiss Conspiracy has going for it is an interesting supporting cast. John Saxon plays a gangster called Hayes – and quite frankly I know Saxon has been in some shit, but this has to be his worst performance ever – man, he is bad! Even the fight scenes – I know it’s a bit much to expect Roper from Enter the Dragon, but the choreography here is terrible. Then you’ve got Elke Sommer and Senta Berger – well it may not be their most glamorous moments – but far be it from me to say anything bad about the ladies. Anton Diffring is an interesting character actor – you may not know his name, but you’d know his face – usually as a Nazi in War films or as an East German agent in a swag of spy films. Milland’s only in it for the pay check – but I guess he’s professional – incidentally Milland and Diffring teamed up once again a few years later in Sherlock Holmes and The Masks Of Death.

Look, The Swiss Conspiracy isn’t a complete crock, but as you can pick it up for a few small coins, I think that the price is right – I wouldn’t spend any more. And I am guessing the only reason that you’d choose to watch it is for the cast, and well what can I say – hey it’s got Elke Sommer and Senta Berger in it!

2 Comments Posted in Film
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  1. “hey it’s got Elke Sommer and Senta Berger in it!”
    My thoughts exactly!

  2. The book, by Michael Stanley, is 100 times better. The movie is a shallow and watered down version. The movie’s character development and suspense are outstanding. The movie could’ve been a scorcher, but badly underachieves.

    Lec Zorn

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