Well gang, as of today I’m going to start something new on this blog. I want to start reviewing movies that are perfect for watching on a sleepless night, and I want to focus on some of the more obscure movies in particular. There are plenty of articles and blog posts out there that list quintessential midnight classics such as Night of the Living Dead, Rocky Horror Picture Show, etc. While those lists are good to check out for a good movie to watch and I may blog a little about the more well-known movies from time to time, I’ll stick with the obscure and (mostly) B-rated movies for my Midnight Movie Reviews.
The first movie I’m going to review is the 1972 movie Embassy starring Richard Roundtree (of Shaft fame), Max von Sydow, Ray Milland, Broderick Crawford, and The Rifleman himself, Chuck Connors. Von Sydow plays Gorenko, a diplomat working in the Soviet Ministry of Defence who possesses some highly-classified knowledge of Soviet defenses along the Chinese border. His son has just been arrested by the KGB and shipped off to the gulag. As a result, Gorenko decides to defect to the US vis a vis the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Connors plays “Col. Kesten”, a psycopathic KGB killer who infiltrates the embassy disguised as a US Air Force colonel to take out Gorenko. Roundtree is Dick Shannon, the young peacenik US diplomat working on Gorenko’s case who is disillusioned with the state of US foreign policy in South Vietnam and elsewhere in the world. Milland is the steely US ambassador who is highly skeptical of Gorenko’s claims and would rather wash his hands of the whole affair. All are working overtime in the midst of anti-US protests in Beirut and protesters have surrounded the embassy.
When word comes back from Washington that Gorenko is the real-deal, the Ambassdor, Shannon, and Dunniger (Crawford) must work together to protect Gorenko from the KGB and do whatever it takes to ship him out of Lebanon and straight to the US. But getting him past the cordon of anti-American protesters and back to the airport safely plus protecting him from the wrath of Kesten is going to be a major challenge.
Ok, I’ll admit it. As far as espionage or political thrillers go, Embassy is a little on the talkative side. However, it has a lot of elements that other thrillers in these two genres just don’t have. For one, Embassy was filmed in a real-life global hotspot that would become of importance to US foreign policy in another few years up the road. Also, it has a storyline that is a lot more realistic than what you’ll find in a James Bond movie or maybe even in an episode of 24. Finally, it has a funky theme song performed by Carl Douglas, the man who gave us the hit song Kung-Fu Fighting several years later! Also in this movie, Richard Roundtree – who had just had a big hit in the US with the first Shaft movie – gets to transfer some of Shaft’s finesse and coolness to this one. Von Sydow is highly convincing in the role of Gorenko and plays the role of the scared diplomat very well.
Ultimately, the most memorable performance in this movie has to be Chuck Connors’. He is brilliant as the psycopathic KGB assassin who goes bezerk on the embassy personnel and has his mind on one objective: killing Gorenko!
All in all, if you don’t mind the talking and like a spy or political thriller that’s more realistic than most, Embassy might be a movie you’ll want to watch sometime!
Also known as: Target: Embassy (alternate English title), El caso Gorenko (Spain), Baraka à Beyrouth (France), Shannon – armoton agentti (Finland), Shannon (Italy), Der Killer in der Botschaft (West Germany)