The Prize

1963, Movie, NR, 135 mins


A lengthy but entertaining picture based on a popular Irving Wallace novel and set against the backdrop of the Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden. Newman is an alcoholic author who accepts the award only for financial reasons, resenting the publicity that it brings. During a speech he offhandedly makes up a plot for a detective novel which centers on the kidnaping of one of the prize recipients. As it so happens, the Russians have already set such a plot into motion. They have kidnaped physicist Robinson, who is traveling with his niece Baker, and replaced him with his twin brother, Baker's father, whom she has long believed to be dead. Newman becomes suspicious and begins asking questions. The communists make attempts on his life, while the Swedish police and Swedish Foreign Office host Sommer refuse to believe his seemingly farfetched tale. Tracked by two communists intent on murder, Newman takes refuge in a nudist camp where he must strip down (only partly) in order to go unnoticed. He manages to escape and, still determined to prove that an imposter (played by Robinson in a dual role) has taken Robinson's place, Newman sneaks aboard a ship where Robinson is being held prisoner. He smuggles him off and safely returns him to his hotel room. The excitement, however, is too much, and Robinson has a heart attack. With help from McCarthy and Fantoni--the two recipients of the prize for medicine--Robinson is revived. When the phony Robinson shows up at the awards ceremony, he realizes that the real Robinson is also in attendance. He tries to escape but is shot down by communist agents trying to cover up their foiled scheme. It is then revealed that the imposter was not really Robinson's brother but a highy skilled Russian actor and that the real twin brother did die long ago. Newman, whose negative attitude toward the ceremony has now changed, accepts his prize and professes his love for Sommer. While director Robson obviously displays a certain flair for Hitchcockian suspence and intrigue (in the same vein as the same year's CHARADE), THE PRIZE suffers from an unevenness of tone which cannot balance the political turmoil with the sexual playfulness. Somewhat surprisingly, the Swedish government spoke out against the film, charging that it degraded the meaning of the Nobel Prize. leave a comment

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