Truth in advertising would never sell this non-noir DVD. For
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 10/26/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"VCI, its marketing department and those reviewers who uncritically praise this kind of cinematic baloney should be ashamed of themselves. Calling these two movies "forgotten noirs" makes amnesia sound good. They are to noirs what Sam Newfield, responsible for Mask of the Dragon, is to directing. They're just fourth-rate movies churned out to make a fast, quick buck. Rent the disc if you must. If you need to buy it, try to find a copy in a discount bin.
The Man from Cairo:
I'm not positive, but I think this was George Raft's last role as a star lead. The movie was an Italian low-cost production. It was the best Raft's agent could do. What marquee value Raft had left in America was thought worth hiring him for to try to sell enough tickets to turn a profit. Raft was 57 when he made the movie, and looks every year of it. He's kept his weight down but his hair is gray and there wasn't much anyone could do to disguise the shadows under his eyes, the puffiness, the general air of "let's get through this so I can go home."
The story is all confused, international thriller hokum. French gold reserves had been moved to French North Africa during WWII, but $100 million worth were stolen in Algeria. Seven years later the gold is still missing. Mike Canelli (Raft), visiting Algiers, knows about all this; so do several others including a singer who can't act but who has a Gina Lollabrigida chassis. The key seems to be a shadowy character with only four fingers on his right hand. After much tough talk, thrown knives, night-time visits to the casbah, a fight using an obvious double on a train and barely adequate dubbing, we learn all about Mike and the missing gold.
I have a fondness or George Raft. In his declining years I wish he'd been able to do better than things like this, a movie in which everything is perfunctory. I like Raft because he was who he was, and had no pretense. He was no actor, said so himself, but through some mysterious process became a star.
Mask of the Dragon:
Director Sam Newfield and his producer brother ground out movie cheapies like sausages, all made with the smelly meat scraps you don't want to know about. The point was to squeeze production costs until the squealing almost stops and keep the factory busy with low-cost actors, writers and production crews. If costs could be kept low enough, then almost any ticket sold, no matter how few, would yield a penny or two of profit. The movies were booked strictly as cheap filler. They are classic examples of how it is always possible to produce things of lower quality than you'd think possible.
The Mask of the Dragon has to do with a jade dragon from Korea, an investigation into a murder, the discovery of a smuggling ring and the deadly secret behind the dragon. The bizarre, abysmal quality of the movie is vividly evident by the occasional background music...generic thrills played on, wait for it, an organ. Newfield adds a couple of cowboy songs for good measure."