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Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense - Czech Mate

episode 3

UK 1984
produced by
Roy Skeggs for Hammer/20th Century Fox
directed by John Hough
starring Susan George, Patrick Mower, Richard Heffner, Stephan Gryff, Catherine Neilson, Peter Vaughan, Sandor Eles, George Mikell, Jeremy Burnham
written by Jeremy Burnham, music by John McCabe

TV-series
Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When tv-journalist Vicky (Susan George) is down because one of the stories she has just painfully researched has been turned down, all of a sudden her ex-husband John (Patrick Mower) shows up at her doorstep & offers her a shoulder to cry on ... & of course much more than that.

Soon it looks as if their love would/could have a second chance, & John even invites her to accompany him on a business trip to Czechoslovakia (which was back then still behind the Iron Curtain). But once there, John & one of his suitcases go missing, & soon Vicky finds out his & her passports are gone too. Only the photo of a certain Maria Vladekova (Catherine Neilson), slipped into Vicky's room under the door witht he words "she knows where John is" seems to provide a clue, but when Vicky questins her, she knows nothing. & Roger Brown (Richard Heffner) from the British embassy is not too big a help either.

But once Vicky returns to her hotelroom, she finds a man murdered in her bathtub, while another man - obviously his killer - makes a hasty escape ... but what's worse, the police inspector (Stephan Gryff) believes her to be the killer, & questions her for hours on end, before a certain mysterius phonecall sets her free all of a sudden.

Returning to Maria Vladekova's appartment though, Vicky finds the killer from the hotelroom in Maria's living-room, & this man seems to be determined to not let Vicky go, chasing her through half of Prague ... of course though she finally does make her escape & decides to go to Brown for some answers.

Brown, who naturally turns out to be a secret service agent, fills her in on the story, that John has long fallen in love with Maria & now plans to get her out of Czechoslovakia by using Vicky's passport ... but what he does not know is that Maria is indeed a spy, only using John to get to Great Briatin. But what Maria does not know is that the secret service knows that too, & they are more than happy to have identified a commie-spy quite so soon, & they will grant her a pleasant stay in the West, but in turn feed her with false information (unbeknowest to her, naturally). All the Brits have to do now is to keep Vicky quiet for a day or 2, enough time for John to bring Maria - as Vicky - to the UK ... but unfortunately the killer is still at large, & still deternmined to snuff out Vicky, so Vicky has to endure another chase, that eventually leads her to the airpoort when John & Maria are about to be leaving ... Vicky tries to stop them, but instead is dragged off to the loonie-bin (?).

 

Very mediocre espionage story, that takes for ages to kick into gear, & then has quite a few twists & turns too many to really make sense while telling a rather stupid story.

The scenes in Prague were atually shot in Vienna, which in some scenes doubles as Prague quite nicely ... while in other scenes, the insistence of filming famous Viennese landmarks like the Parliament or the very distinct Saint Stephen's Cathedral is way too much of a dead giveaway (& not only for a Viennese like me). Granted, filming in Prague was not possible for an English production back then, but why then insist on showing Viennese landmarks ?

Veteran (espionage film) actor Robert Vaughan by the way is totally wasted in a short scene as Vicky's/Susan George's producer.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD