48 Hours to Live (1959)

48 HOURS TO LIVE (1959)
aka Med fara for livet
Article 4734 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-11-2015
Directed by Peter Bourne
Featuring Anthony Steel, Birger Malmsten, Lewis Charles
Country: Sweden / UK
What it is: Spy…uh…thriller

A reporter takes a ship to the island of Gotland to do an interview with a nuclear scientist. When the daughter of the scientist tells him she’s being held hostage by a pair of spies in order for them to get the scientist to divulge his secrets, he becomes embroiled in espionage.

Every once in a while I find myself thinking while I’m watching a movie, “I bet this is the director’s first movie… and probably his only one.” That started passing through my mind early on in this one, but I tried to cut the movie some slack by attributing some of the clumsiness and awkwardness to the substandard dubbing that no doubt took place to translate it from Swedish to English. However, that excuse went out the door when I discovered that it was filmed in English to begin with. The first half hour feels like a comedy with no sense of comic timing; the rest of it feels like a clumsily contrived spy thriller full of dead spaces. Even when it comes up with a fairly decent suspense sequence (involving two people in a deathtrap in a windmill), it fumbles it because it did such a clumsy job of setting up the method of their rescue earlier in the movie, so there’s no surprise. As for the fantastic content, there’s hardly any here; despite the spy trappings, there’s no gadgetry, and the secrets that the scientist is being forced to divulge are never discussed. That leaves only the rumor of the windmill being haunted to provide fantastic content. As far as I can tell, the English title means nothing. And, yes, this was Peter Bourne’s first and only directorial effort, though he kept busy enough as an actor.


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