A step back in time to the late 60s today – 1967 to be precise, which is when director Gordon Douglas (“In Like Flint”, “Stagecoach”) saw his crime thriller film “Tony Rome” released.
The movie was based on one of a series of books featuring the Tony Rome character by American author Marvin Albert – in this case “Miami Mayhem” from 1960 – with a screenplay penned by Richard L. Breen (“Niagara”, “Dragnet”).
The titular character Tony Rome (Frank Sinatra – “The Manchurian Candidate”, “Assault On A Queen”) is an ex-policeman turned private detective. He lives in Miami on a powerboat and has something of a gambling addiction.
One night Rome is called to a hotel by his former police partner, Ralph Turpin (Robert J. Wilke – “The Hallelujah Trail”, “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf”), to take an unconscious drunk young woman, the daughter of a rich and powerful construction boss, to her home.
Once she comes round the woman, Diana Pines (Sue Lyon – “Lolita”, “One Born Every Minute”), realises that a valuable diamond pin that she had been wearing the previous evening has disappeared.
She and her stepmother Rita Kosterman (Gena Rowlands – “The Skeleton Key”, “Night On Earth”) hire Rome to track down the missing pin.
At the same time Diana’s father, Rudolph Kosterman (Simon Oakland – “Psycho”, “West Side Story”), hires Rome to keep tabs on Diana who he feels is acting strangely. Two fairly simple and straightforward jobs you would think. However, the Kosterman family is anything but straightforward.
It seems that it’s not just Diana that wants the diamond pin, as before long Rome has been chloroformed, beaten-up, found Turpin’s murdered body and been questioned by the police. As the bodies start to pile up Rome gets help from divorcee Ann Archer (Jill St. John – “Diamonds Are Forever”, “The Lost World”), an acquaintance of Diana’s. Throw in blackmail, drugs, thugs and a lesbian stripper (Deanna Lund – “Land Of The Giants”, “Panic In The City”) and you have a decent noir-ish movie that looks back to the detective films of the 40s and has the twists and turns to match.
Incidentally, Lund was apparently so embarrassed by her role that she had her name removed from the credits despite appearing in the promotional poster!
The setting of Miami helps the film look good, as do the numerous attractive females, and Sinatra does a pretty good job as the detective reluctantly pulled into the case. There is also plenty of good humour throughout. The plot did get a little hazy at times but the film was nonetheless entertaining throughout…