Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Robertson Gives Caliber to "Masquerade"

Cleveland Press May 14, 1965

Played straight, "Masquerade" might have been an exciting suspense thriller. Played strictly for laughs the film might have been hilarious.

While the motion picture is both thrilling and funny, this curious ambivalence of purpose lessens some of the excitement, occasionally dulls the chuckles.

THIS fault of the screenplay is overcome by actor Cliff Robertson as a born loser cast in the heroic role of thwarting international spies, stopping a kidnaping of a young prince, resisting but slightly the lure of an exotic girl and getting himself out of deadly situations.

In a period in which the screen has been frilled with nonheroes, Robertson is delightful as a nonhero in heroic situations. He blunders in, blunders right out again as a reverse James Bond. He is sloppy, a bad shot, a lousy fighter and when you come right down to it, not much of a lover.

His help is sought by a British war hero (Jack Hawkins) who must unofficially help the British government get favorable oil concessions from a small Arab kingdom. The way to do this is to abduct the country's young prince and keep him safely for three weeks until he is 14 and ascends the throne.

The prince is friendly to Britain, his evil uncle is not.

THE kidnaping is carried off and Robertson is set to guard the boy in a mansion in Spain. But our hero runs into a bunch of characters he thinks are smugglers -- including gorgeous Marisa Mell -- but it turns out that they are kidnapers too.

Robertson is slugged, loses the boy, finds in a series of complicated double-crosses that his friends are really enemies and his enemies aren't very friendly either.

Part way through all of this he has a chance to get away and pick up a tidy profit just by falling in with the bad guys -- whom he cannot tell from the good guys anyway.

"Hey," says he, "I think I've got scruples."

He has talent, too.