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Congo Crossing
movies, Adventure

1956 | 16:9 | Color | Quality: Excellent

Virginia Mayo

George Nader

Peter Lorre


Congotanga, West Africa, has no extradition laws; the government is firmly controlled by gangsters headed by Carl Rittner (Tonio Selwart). This makes the place a haven for fugitives, and all manner of shifty characters lurk around every corner. David Carr (George Nader) has been tasked with surveying Congotanga's actual borders - a task made difficult considering a tin-pot dictator in the form of blowhard Colonel John Miguel Orlando Arragas (Peter Lorre) has claimed some of the Belgian Congo for himself. Adding to this mix, the latest plane from Europe carries Louise Whitman (Virginia Mayo), who is on the run from French authorities pursuing her on a murder charge. Also on board is the sleazy Mannering (Raymond Bailey), who wants the heat on the lovely Whitman to disappear so he pays resident hit man O'Connell (Michael Pate) to kill her. Through a chain of circumstances Louise, O'Connell, and heroic Carr end up alone in the jungle on Carr's mission to survey the area as the Congo River boundaries have changed, and he aims to find out whether Lorre's jurisdiction of Congotanga is in the French or Belgian Congo. The ambiguity of the situation causes concern for all and it's made Congotanga the wide open place it is. Everyone wants to know, but many who are on the wrong side of the law don't want the knowledge to go public...

This is a very interesting mix up of exotic adventure and espionage genres: lots of intrigue with good action scenes. It is full of the charm of the nineteen-fifties and nostalgia lovers will be delighted with this rarely seen picture that is aided greatly by Russell Metty's brilliant and elegant Technicolor camerawork. Director Joseph Pevney has been more or less dismissed by so-called "highbrow" critics. I think they are wrong. He directed Joan Crawford in one of the rare films on male prostitution: FEMALE ON THE BEACH and many other gems of entertainment that deal with character as well as action. Congo Crossing is perfectly cast. George Nadar, an underrated actor who was often compared to Rock Hudson (for several reasons), is the lead male role. Nadar eventually left Hollywood and became a writer, but here he is on top form trying to redraw the map of the Belgian Congo, as what should be part of it's territory has become a renegade state for criminals. Peter Lorre, unwashed, sweaty and shabby as ever, hangs about with his unclean uniform, covered by medals in the style of a South-American dictator. Needless to say, he makes a treat of his whole screentime. The sleazy and physically scary Michael Pate is a great villain. But of course it is Virginia Mayo at her sexiest who takes the movie on her beautiful shoulders as a cold woman of mystery who can be warm when she wants to - but not when men want to profit off her in more ways than one.

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