The List of Adrian Messenger (1963)

The List of Adrian Messenger
Directed by John Huston
Written by Anthony Veiller from a story by Philip MacDonald
1963/USA
Joel Productions
First viewing/YouTube

 

Adrian Messenger: There’s nary a conspiracy. And if I’m right about this, it’s a far older sin than politics.

John Huston makes a wildly improbable mystery fun.

Adrian Messenger asks his friend retired MI-5 officer Anthony Gethryn (George C. Scott) to investigate the whereabouts of eleven people on a list.  He refuses to say what the people have in common or why he needs to know.  Gethryn agrees.  Before he can report back, Messenger has been killed in a plane crash that looks suspiciously like it was due to a planted bomb.  Eventually, Gethryn discovers that all but one of the men on the list has died in an “accident”, all of which now could be explained as murder.

It is not a spoiler to reveal that a heavily disguised man played by Kirk Douglas had a hand in all the murders.  I won’t reveal his true identity or motive.  With Dana Wynter as Messenger’s cousin, Herbert Marshall as an MI-5 man and a bunch of surprise cameos by big stars of the period.

It defies belief that a person could hope to be successful in the extremely labor-intensive mass murders committed in this film. Even without suspending my disbelief, I really enjoyed the film.  George C. Scott is excellent as usual and Huston makes the whole thing look good and move along nicely.  Recommended.

Clip – may be a spoiler but takes place early in the film