TANGIER ASSIGNMENT. Rock Pictures, 1955. Filmed and originally released in Spain as Billete para Tánger. Robert Simmons, June Powell, Fernando Rey. Director: Ted Leversuch.

   Everyone else in the cast appears to be Spanish, and as such, all of them are unknown to me. Even of the three of those above in leading roles, the only one I might have seen in a movie before is Fernando Rey.


   I’ll take that back. Bob Simmons, who plays an international undercover agent named Valentine in this film, I have seen many times before and so have you.

   He was mostly a stunt man over his lengthy movie-making career (1939-1985), including long stints doubling for Sean Connery in many of the James Bond films. He was, in fact, the figure you saw in opening gun-barrel sequences of the first three of them.

   Tangier Assignment (to use the English title) was filmed on location, either in Tangiers or outlying areas of Morocco, which means that (A) the settings are authentic, and (B) it really ought to have filmed in color. So far all to the good, but let’s put it this way. I am trying to say something positive about the story, but … it’s not easy.

   Not that it’s terrible, exactly, and I’ll get back to that, but the story itself is awfully ordinary if not outright dull. Valentine is in Tangiers on the trail of some smugglers, but when he enters the small apartment of the man he is to contact there, he finds him dead on the floor, with a knife in his back. You might think that as far as the next step is concerned, calling the police, he is going to be in trouble, but (and this I concede is a surprise) the local police inspector (Fernando Rey) is amiable, friendly and understanding.


   Which means he takes the killing on his turf totally in stride, even when (no surprise) they go back to the apartment to find … no dead body on the floor.

   June Powell, who made one other movie besides this one (and one episode of one British TV show, is a nightclub singer who attracts Valentine’s attention and seems to tag along on some of his forays along the coast to find spots (caves) the smugglers might be using as a base of operations – the obligatory female role, you might say, and you might be right.

   According to IMDB, and here is where a big problem with the story may lie, the film is supposed to be some 80 minutes long. The copy I have, on a collector-to-collector DVD, barely makes it much over 60. This may explain why, even with a brief burst of action at the end, the primary bad guy is a guy we’ve barely seen before.

   I think some intervening material may have gotten chopped out, perhaps to fit a time slot at some time or another on TV. And if so, and this is pure supposition, of course, I’d rather they had cut some of the early musical numbers, of which there are more than one, rather than story.

   But to get back to the good, though, and I’ve been sitting here at the keyboard long enough to remember to tell you this, Bob Simmons is a wonder. He is one of most active undercover agents I have ever seen. He leapfrogs over his opponents, literally, jumps out windows, makes flying leaps over walls, vaults fences, jumps down terraces, then two at a time, somersaulting as he falls before dashing off, with none of the large cast of villains able to follow, totally winded if not seriously injured in their endeavors. Marvelous!