Spyforce: Portuguese Man Of War (1971)

Country: Australia
Director: Ron Way
Starring: Jack Thompson, Peter Sumner, Redmond Phillips, Katy Wild, Bill Hunter, Victoria Anoux, Alister Smart
Music: Brian Rangott and Geoff Harvey

Here’s just a quick review from the Australian television series Spyforce. Despite Spyforce being a local production, I have found it extremely difficult to find episodes to review. This episode, Portuguese Man Of War is the third episode in the series and suggests that German born Gunther Haber is in fact a German double agent.

The episode begins as a two man team of German saboteurs plant an explosive device at a military facility in Sydney. As they carry out their dirty work they are discovered and captured. One of the guards finds the bomb and disposes of it at the last minute.

The next scene shows Colonel Cato (Redmond Phillips), the head of ‘Spyforce’ questioning the loyalty of one of the men under his command – Gunther Haber (Peter Sumner). Haber is arrested for being a German spy and is taken away and imprisoned at Fort Dennison, which is a small island fortress in the middle of Sydney Harbour – think of it as a miniature Alcatraz.

After Haber’s incarceration, Cato assigns Luke Erskine (Jack Thompson) to investigate the activities of a group of Portuguese fishermen who have been docked in Sydney Harbour. Even though Portugal is a neutral country, it is suspected that these guys are not quite what they seem, particularly in light of the recent increased activity by the Germans in the area.

Erskine pretends to be an army deserter and ingratiates himself upon Domenica (Victoria Anoux), who is a girl employed to fix the fishing nets on one of the boats. Domenica is also the object of affection for one of the fishermen named Carlos (Alister Smart). Carlos is not happy about Erskine moving in on his woman, but strangely – maybe to keep an eye on him – he offers Erskine a job on his boat.

Erskine’s first trip involves sailing out past Sydney Heads to a buoy with Carlos. At the buoy they reel in a suitcase full of cash – German – and a large amount of explosives. Erskine is told they are for a very special mission!

Meanwhile, poor old Gunther is given a proper working over at the prison and is then thrown in a cell with two other German spies. I know you can guess where this is going so I won’t say too much more, but the episode plays out the ‘Gunther the traitor’ story for as long as it can. As Sumner is one of the two main stars of the show, there are no prizes for guessing which side he is on. The episode ends with an over melodramatic ending which features plenty of stock footage of the Queen Mary ocean liner, which in this story is docked in Sydney preparing to take a boat load of troops to Africa.

Portuguese Man Of War is a pretty simple little story and it takes it’s sweet time building up to a climax which most astute viewers would have seen coming from miles away. But still, It’s nice to see spy stories played out on home territory.

4 Comments Posted in Television
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  1. has anyone a copy of a
    spyforce episode set in Melboure with General MacArthur?

  2. Maddy, you’re probably going to have to troll Channel Nine during the wee-small hours – and hope it turns up.

  3. I was watching this episode but unfortunately I miss out on what happened to the girl?

    btw, the island fortress in Mission Impossible 2 was Bare Island at La Perouse not Fort Denison.

  4. Thanks for your input Alfred. I’ll fix up the post to reflect this.

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