Film, Spies

Film: The Cape Town Affair

February 21, 2017

The lure of remaking Samuel Fuller’s noir thriller Pickup on South Street is certainly understandable, but The Cape Town Affair (1967) is an unfortunate result. It’s a shoddy, unimaginative reshoot that relocates the action from Manhattan to South Africa but barely tweaks the script, and executes it flatly.

Candy (Jacqueline Bisset), a courier for communist spies in Cape Town, is being tracked by intelligence officers on her way to an important rendezvous when her purse is looted by pickpocket Skip McCoy (James Brolin). McCoy’s simple act of greed hoses up everyone’s plans, complicating the lives of the communist agents looking to retrieve the microfilm, the South African spies trying to identify and stop them, and a scheming stool pigeon named Sam (Claire Trevor) who gets caught between them all.

With its noir trappings and catchy lingo, Pickup on South Street had a style and ambience that worked for the dark, twisty story. The Cape Town Affair dusts off the script and attempts to give it a glamorous, technicolor veneer in a new locale, with more conventionally attractive leads. But the rough edges of Fuller’s script, which gel nicely with stark black-and-white visuals and Richard Widmark’s snarl, don’t play well with Brolin’s handsome smirks and Cape Town’s sunny climate. A monotonous soundtrack and punchless pacing don’t help matters.  (Nor does the fact that the grubby print I watched looks like it plucked out of a lint trap.) Aside from providing background noise while I folded my laundry, this one really didn’t do anything for me.

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