Alerte au sud (1953)
aka Alert in the South
Article 5532 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Jean Devaivre
Featuring Jean-Claude Pascal, Gianna Maria Canale, Erich von Stroheim
Country: France / Italy
What it is: Foreign Legion Spy Thrills
Two foreign legionnaires stumble upon a plot involving a death ray that can shoot planes from the sky. When one of them is murdered, the other continues to investigate to solve the mystery and avenge his friend.
Like many foreign movies that have been consigned to my “ones that got away” list only to be reprieved later upon my finding a copy, this one is not subtitled in English, and given that most of the first half of the movie is talk, it wasn’t particularly easy for me to follow. Still, I did find a plot description or two, and this helped a little; however, I would have to say that for the most part this is a Gizmo Maguffin affair; the fantastic content is mostly there to drive the action/espionage story. The proceedings are brightened a little by a couple of familiar faces; you’ve seen Stroheim’s name in the credits above, and the cast also features Peter van Eyck, who I recognized from several Edgar Wallace krimis of the sixties. If the language isn’t a barrier to you, it’s probably entertaining enough, but nothing special. I don’t know if the death ray actually gets used or not, since I didn’t notice anything manifest itself visually. It does, however, have a lot of dancing and camel noises. Which, come to think of it, is not really an adequate trade-off.