Wednesday, January 6, 2016


You've never seen actor David McCallum play a more anti-heroic character than in director Brian G. Hutton's above-average narcotics thriller "Sol Madrid." McCallum headlines the cast as the eponymous protagonist who works undercover for Interpol and lives to bust illegal drug dealers. Indeed, he believes that he shouldn't have to abide by the rules because the bad guys don't. The biggest heroin dealer of them all here is Emil Dietrich. "Dirty Dozen" psycho Telly Savalas is charming as the cigarette-smoking villain who lives high, wide, and handsome in his estate in sunny Acapulco, Mexico. Initially, our hero doesn't have his sights set on the urbane Dietrich. He learns from his Interpol superior that the mistress of a Mafioso kingpin, Dano Villanova (Rip Torn of "Men in Black"), has left him. Moreover, the man with a computerized mind who knows everything about the Mafia's accounts, Harry Mitchell (Pat Hingle of "Hang'em High") has fled from the Mafia, too. At first, Sol's mission is to find Mitchell and persuade him to testify against the Mafia. Stacey Woodward (Stella Stevens of "The Ballad of Cable Hogue"), joined Mitchell for $250-thousand dollars. but she didn't accompnay him to Mexico. Sol Madrid breaks into Woodward's bedroom, surprises her, confiscates her loot, and they head off to see Dietrich and his guest Mitchell. Madrid works his way into Dietrich's confidence when he manages to smuggle heroin into California by means of an oil pipeline. The Interpol agent reels in Dietrich afterward for $25 million. Meanwhile, another Interpol agent working undercover in Acapulco is a smiling dude known as Jalisco (Ricardo Montalban of "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan"), and he works as a cabbie when he isn't crusading for law and order. Eventually, Madrid is able to persuade Dietrich to sell him heroin on the premises of his house, something that Dietrich had never done before. During the big bust scene, our hero gets into a fight with the villain, and you can guess who survives the confrontation. Sol Madrid emerges as one of those cops who doesn't take prisoners and he isn't afraid of anything. Eventually, he is able to rescue Stacey from the mitts of the mafia. Once the evil Villanova ferrets Stacey out, he incarcerates her in a cabin and gets her hooked on heroin.

What sets "Sol Madrid" (*** OUT OF ****) apart from all of McCallum's other films is the savagery of his character. He exposes a double-agent in one scene and shoots the man at point blank range without a qualm and lets him fall down and die. Later, he tangles with a well-dressed Mafioso and drowns the dastard face down in a muddy pool in Mexico. I don't think that I've ever seen David McCallum play a character as brutal of Sol Madrid, and he displays no remorse for his murderous behavior. "Sol Madrid" was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer a year before Hutton made history with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood in the explosive World War II thriller "Where Eagles Dare." Hutton's next film was "Kelly's Heroes. If you want to see David McCallum as you have never seen him before, check out "Sol Madrid."

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