Mistress of the World (1960)

aka Die Herrin der Welt – Teil 1
Article 3014 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-8-2009
Posting Date: 11-14-2009
Directed by William Dieterle and Richard Angst
Featuring Martha Hyer, Micheline Presle, Carlos Thompson
Country: France / Italy / West Germany

When a trio of scientists discovers a formula that allows a magnetic field to knock out electricity over a large area, they become the target of kidnappers. Interpol is called in to find the scientists and recover the formula.

What we have here is another example of the Gizmo Maguffin; the formula is used towards the beginning of the movie, and the rest of the movie involves heroes and villains fighting over the formula. It’s directed by Williem Dieterle, who was responsible for some great movies during the thirties and forties. On one level, I really like this movie; it has a markedly different feel than many other spy movies, with the spies doing a lot more team-oriented work rather than the usual lone-wolf approach of most of the other movies of this genre. It also attempts a higher level of realism than those movies; parts of the movie almost feel like a police procedural of sorts. There’s some particularly wonderful location work as well, especially during the last part of the movie which takes place at Angkor. Unfortunately, most of the movie is slow-moving and too talky; when the heroine lashes out at the Interpol agents for doing nothing but talking, you’ll feel for her.

It’s possible the problems with the movie may have to do with the cutting of the English-language print; my source for the movie tells me that it was cut heavily. This presents a bit of a mystery to me; my cut runs 106 minutes, longer than the IMDB time of 98 minutes, which seems to imply that very little was cut but new footage was added. However, I can’t help but notice that the German title indicates that this was Part 1, and a follow-up movie that ran 89 minutes was also shot. Is it possible that my print is actually a shortened version of the combined footage of both movies? This seems likely; the cast for the second movie seems the same, and includes characters that would have been dead for the sequel had my print been for the first movie only. If this is true, than a good eighty minutes is missing here.

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