Monday, April 7, 2014

Movie Monday: Operation Amsterdam

This week's Movie Monday is the 1959 British thriller Operation Amsterdam!

Set in 1940, on the eve of the Nazis invading the Netherlands, the British government sends a small team of operatives into Amsterdam to find...a fortune in diamonds!

The team consists of three men: Dutch diamond experts Jan Smit (Peter Finch) and Walter Keyser (Alexander Knox) and a British intelligence officer, Major Dillon (Tony Britton). They arrive on the Dutch Coast (having avoided German bombs on the way), and work their way past suspicious local authorities to find the diamonds before the Nazis steal them all.
Amid the chaos, they commandeer a car driven by Anna (Eva Bartok), who was stopped by Smit as she tried to commit suicide by plunging herself and the car off a pier into the ocean. They convince her to go with them, where Smit learns that she blames herself for the death of her husband's parents at the hands of the Nazis.
The group meets with Jan's father, a diamond merchant, who tries to talk the other local diamond merchants into pooling their stock to get it out of the Netherlands. Some of the diamonds are in a time-locked vault, which requires the team hiring another team to help break into it and get everything out in time.

Members of the Dutch police and the Nazis are on their tail, though, leading to some armed fights on the streets of Amsterdam. Anna shows that, despite her previous behavior, she is no shrinking violet:
The rest of the film is a race against time for our heroes to get the diamonds, avoid the Nazis, and head back home. Will they succeed?
I wanted to like Operation Amsterdam, really I did. A rag-tag bunch of experts, sneaking behind enemy lines to stick it to the Nazis, the guy from Network, what's not to love?

There is no one thing you can point to about the movie and say it's bad or wrong--everything is shot and acted with cool professionalism. Unfortunately, it's also pretty darn dull. We barely get to know our heroes before they're of on their mission (about five minutes in, really), and these guys barely ever say anything to each other, so outside of Smit and Anna's conversations, we never do learn anything about them. That's probably very realistic, but it doesn't make for gripping cinema.

I actually had to watch Operation Amsterdam three times to keep my interest up. Each time I'd get a little further, and then I found myself distracted, wanting to check my email, etc., and before I knew I had completely lost the thread. Again, there's not a thing "wrong" with the movie, it's just so tight-lipped and cool that I found it inspiring not a single emotion from me, good or bad. The DVD sleeve makes the film look like a slam-bang action thriller; I'm guessing MGM knew it had to pull some sleight of hand to get people to buy it.

Why did I choose this obscure title, you might ask? Well, the poster for it (which you see up top) hangs in the hall in the office I work at, and I pass by it several times a day. The poster is so snazzy I thought why not try Operation Amsterdam out? Well, now I know.

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