Saturday, July 6, 2019

The MacKintosh Man

I recorded several Paul Newman movies during his turn as TCM's Star of the Month, and I've been working my way through them. This time, we're up to The MacKintosh Man.

Newman plays Rearden, a secret agent of some sort. It's a bit tough to guess exactly what sort, since Newman himself was American, but the movie is set in the UK, and his UK spymaster has Rearden pass himself off as Australian at one point. But his boss MacKintosh (Harry Andrews) is most definitely British. MacKintosh tells Rearden about a new scheme by diamond smugglers that has them using the Royal Mail to send stolen diamonds to locations they only use once, picking up the diamonds somehow and absconding with them. Rearden gets the address of one of those locations, so obviously Rearden is out to break the ring.

No, not quite. Rearden lies in wait for the postman, and when he comes, punches the postman and takes the envelope full of diamonds! The British police are good at what they do, and fairly quickly put the finger on him, leading to arrest and a trial which gets him a long prison sentence.

It turns out that getting put in prison was the point, as Rearden has to go into prison to find out something, which will only become clear later. Among the people he meets in prison is Slade (Ian Bannen), a spy who had passed British secrets to the Communists and is serving a long sentence for that. There's a shady organization that plans prison breaks, and they see Slade as an important prisoner, but are also willing to free Rearden as a decoy.

Rearden is drugged before being taken to a safe house, and when he wakes up he has no idea where he is, trapped in a nice room in a house somewhere together with Slade. This is allegedly for the security of the escapees, but it would immediately raise my suspicions, and it does the same for Rearden. Meanwhile, the people who organized the escape have been doing their research on Rearden's false identity and realize he's not who he's been claiming to be which puts him in great danger.

Back in London, MP Sir George Wheeler (James Mason) is planning to raise holy hell, but his old friend MacKintosh warns him about doing so, which leads to a sudden change in plans for the folks holding Slade and Rearden. Rearden escapes and finds that the real point of the plot was to get Slade out of the country so that he could be shipped back to the Communists, a handoff that's supposed to happen in Malta.

The MacKintosh Man is a movie that's full of twists and turns, requiring a fairly close watch to see where the movie is going. That's not a bad thing by any means, but it nice to have a bit of advance warning. As with a lot of spy movies, you need a healthy suspension of disbelief, with certain plot points feeling as though they should fall apart.

But with that said, The MacKintosh Man isn't a bad little movie. There's nice location shooting in Ireland and Malta, and some parts of the plot that are handled surprisingly well. I particularly enjoyed the car chase along the rutted country tracks of western Ireland. While the movie never quite rises to great, it's more than entertaining and a solid addition to the genre.

The MacKintosh Man got a release to DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive.

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