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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold War Old School
I love this movie. The basic theme is the world of seventies cold war espionage, when the old warhorses who've been in the game since the second world war, or before, are being replaced by smart, new, cynical men. This new breed have no understanding of the more ambiguous loyalties of the old school, who have been alternately allies and enemies, and sometimes profound...
Published on 14 Feb 2009 by John Ferngrove

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite Burt's Best!
The title of this thriller apparently derived from the shared birth sign of director Michael Winner and the two main stars of the film, Burt Lancaster and the French actor Alain Delon. It is a fairly straightforward story of deceit and unreliable alliances within the underground world of international espionage in the early 1970s and although the film is fairly...
Published on 6 April 2011 by David Gray


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold War Old School, 14 Feb 2009
By 
John Ferngrove (Hants UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scorpio [DVD] (DVD)
I love this movie. The basic theme is the world of seventies cold war espionage, when the old warhorses who've been in the game since the second world war, or before, are being replaced by smart, new, cynical men. This new breed have no understanding of the more ambiguous loyalties of the old school, who have been alternately allies and enemies, and sometimes profound friends besides.

The film has some superb factors on its side. Firstly, the score is one of the best by someone called Jerry Fielding. Brash American big band themes, irresistible Parisian Cafe Accordian music, Bohemian zithers and incredibly exciting jazz piano that's like Schoenberg meets Oscar Peterson for some of the chase scenes.

If you like convoluted spy thrillers with twists and turns right to the end of the plot then this is one of the best. There are ambiguities deliberately left unresolved even at the end.

One of the stars of the film is the city of Vienna where much of the action happens. You see both the seamy side, portrayed so well in The Third Man, but also the impossibly romantic side of this fascinating city.

Burt Lancaster as Cross, the tough but aging agent, effortlessly outwitting all his younger contemporaries, except the one he has trained himself, his protoge, Scorpio, played by Alain Delon, I think quite movingly. Scorpio is a man who is ruthless, very cool, but has a soft spot for cats, and proves ultimately too naive to realise what lengths his masters will go to.

Paul Scofield as Cross's Soviet counterpart, a man full of ironies and contradictions and grim humour, is magnificent and also helps to lift this film out of the ordinary.

On top of it all there is some indefinable something the film has that sets it apart from all others of its type, something greater than the sum of its parts. An aching nostalgia mixed with romanticism that is doomed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite Burt's Best!, 6 April 2011
This review is from: Scorpio [DVD] (DVD)
The title of this thriller apparently derived from the shared birth sign of director Michael Winner and the two main stars of the film, Burt Lancaster and the French actor Alain Delon. It is a fairly straightforward story of deceit and unreliable alliances within the underground world of international espionage in the early 1970s and although the film is fairly entertaining it is largely undemanding and a little dated. Lancaster is one of the outstanding film actors of his generation, however, and is always worth watching, while Delon is also excellent as the freelance killer who accepts the contract to rub him out. I bought this as I am a Burt Lancaster fan and although it is far from his best, there is still enough to enjoy about this film and if you should choose to buy it you will almost certainly find it a perfectly pleasant way to while away a rainy afternoon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less than the sum of its parts, 15 Mar 2012
By 
S. Graham David (Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scorpio [DVD] (DVD)
Having read the reviews of other satisfied purchasers I bought this DVD; it seemed to have all the ingredients that make the genre intriguing, and in a sense it did, but to my taste something went wrong with the blending and baking, leaving a soggy mess. The main problem seems to me to be the dialogue - evidently studied but unnatural, with no sense of spontaneity but a larding of clichés, delivered mechanically by what had promised to be a top-notch cast. The characterization is painfully obvious, and no sense of involvement is generated. It has a slight archaeological interest but it's hardly entertainment. And to think it was filmed largely in the city of "The Third Man"!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A LACONIC CAT AND MOUSE GAME, 28 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Scorpio [DVD] (DVD)
There is enough to like in this cold war thriller set in Vienna though it has a few flaws in the predictable plot , but it's menacing atmosphere redeems it though the genre cliches borrrowed from the monochrome classics of Orson Welles let it somewhat down , but then you can take obvious delight in this Mike Winner's cold war espionage thriller,which envisages in a flurry of stylish innuendoes .

The script left some really mysterious clues as metaphors, without any crystal clear answers to various riddles ,yet it was definitilely quaint and diverting, while staying true to it's desperately bleak premisess and a dark,atmospheric piece which satisfies even today,despite it's slightly dated exposure .

Burt Lancaster as 'Cross', is rather somewhat typecast with his quizzical ,morose look but even than he is very good ,Alain Delon as 'Laurier 'is also better than usual ,albeit the movie is stolen by 'Zarkov', as the thespian Paul ScofField ,and he is worth his weight in gold and evenly harmonious as the secretive and deceptive bureaucrat, who is both in control and yet has a tender streak with a pragmatic flair for his operators ,and shines in every scene with his quizzically morose expressions and the priceless "verbal aphorisms" he utters are in total context to describe the meanigless outcome of the cold war and make this an above average movie elevating it to a rather near philosophical and classic status .

The set pieces from Vienna are inspired from the "THIRD MAN BY ORSON WELLES", and it is evident Vienna has that surreal ,mystic,impressionist charm and appeal for Expressionist cinema with its claasic and baroque splendour and narrow dark alleys ,it does vacillate between Georgetown,Moscow,Paris and Vienna and still remains coherent ,calculating and entertaining in an almost serenely special but distant yet familiar charm ,where you are immersed in the characters who evoke a bizarre empathy for their whimsical attitudes .

It is devoid of any obvious humour and that is a rather covert flaw,as it has a dark satire muffled in the lurking shadows ,which musters and lingers menacingly while the various characters carry on with their double dealings ,yet it is terse and brutal and MR.Winner does indeed deliver a winsome thriller in the end .

The finale is both surprising ,yet predictable in the sense you have pre-empted it in an innocuous manner ,and still you do empathise and adore the "cat loving assassin Delon",who is portrayed as both an avid animal lover and a ruthless assassin with a feline touch with a multi-layered and enriched character which finally connects with the plot and the emotional trajectory .

The same is true of his fascinating and eclectic mentor" Cross [burt lancaster ]"played with an objure mystique ,who is accused of being a double agent initially in a random plot twist-Lancaster has some really good action set pieces and he delivers even in his middle-age which is an extremely demanding physical role as well .

Finally the movie works with it's handsome production design -the mouth watering antique treasures in SCOFFIELD'S[ Zarkovs ]Viennese apartment are a sight to behold , and some lurid yet menacingly intriguing suspense with a twist which was immensely imaginative and easily a "trick and treat" in the best tradition .
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4.0 out of 5 stars What a great actor Burt Lancaster was., 27 July 2014
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This review is from: Scorpio [DVD] (DVD)
A decent spy thriller that I enjoyed first time around and was glad to see again. First class performance from Burt Lancaster and good support by Delon and Scofield. Good price and speedy delivery. Lancaster was a very good and prolific actor whose amazing range and output wasn't always fully appreciated.
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3.0 out of 5 stars a bit pondorous but watchable., 4 April 2014
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jeremiah harbottle (Littlebourne, Kent.) - See all my reviews
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a solid and watchable spy thriller but this needed a stronger plot and more action. Burt Lancaster and Paul Scofield take the acting honours, they work well together as they did previously in 1964's film, "The Train."
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars As dramatic as custard, 8 Jan 2014
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This is some sort of Cold War spy story purportedly set in Paris. It is not, it is set 90 seconds in Paris and the rest in the US, Austria and Russia.
Burt Lancaster's acting is wooden and the film score sounds like Mantovani on acid. I had hoped that this movie would show me that Michael Winner had some worth as a film director. It showed me nothing other than average second unit type direction.
The story? There is no story unless you count the riddle whereby one assassin sets out to kill another and that both were once friends, etc, etc,.
If it were possible to give this DVD a zero, I would. I had hoped that Alain Delon might also show his worth too. He did not.
Save your money this DVD is a stinker.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boring - It Isn't! Confusing - Just a bit, 17 Sep 2011
By 
A. W. Wilson - See all my reviews
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I have never quite understood why Winner is sneeringly dismissed by many U/K critics. He's a good pro director and this shows off his skills very well. The plot is convoluted but if you concentrate you get it. The action flows beautifully and Burt and Delon do (nearly) all their own stunts, and then some. The support cast is full of great yesteryear actors (Gayle Hunnicutt/J.D.Cannon/John Colicos/James Sikking and a raft of British character actors to numerous to mention.) Locations are great, photography excellent, music just right. If close ups are to your delight, Winner uses plenty of his photogenic cast. All in all this is (perhaps) a surprising pleasure to watch. Not a classic, but good unpretentious fun. Print - picture and sound excellent and as for the price... You could find this just right for a Winter's evening with a nice wine. Enjoy
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 17 Oct 2014
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Good film and stars, but direction dated and accompanying music very irritating!!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What did you do in the Cold War?, 17 July 2010
By 
Michael Trolan "Von Croy's smarter brother" (Northumbria, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scorpio [DVD] (DVD)
When over-the-hill agent Cross (Burt Lancaster) is marked for assassination because he knows where the CIA bodies are buried, his response is to vanish into the Viennese underworld, revive a cagey alliance with Russian spymaster Zharkov (Paul Scofield), and proceed to run rings round Scorpio (Alain Delon) and assorted hit-persons sent to take him down. But Cross is vulnerable, through his wife Sarah (Joanne Linville) and rookie CIA employee Susan (Gayle Hunnicutt).

The acrobatic Lancaster is a joy to watch as he ducks and dives through flying bullets in a midnight theme park, and the deep pit of an excavated building site. Scofield purrs with silky menace, a perfect foil for Lancaster as he was in Frankenheimer's The Train. They are well supported by Gayle Hunnicutt, John Colicos, J D Cannon and James Sikking. On the debit side Delon is unconvincing as the supremo of a complex CIA global operation, the corkscrew plot now seems dated - it's been a long time since Watergate - and a finale that asks the audience to believe that Cross would go into an underground car park without even a Derringer in his boot is asking an awful lot.

This reviewer would walk a mile in the rain to see any Burt Lancaster film, and moreover regards Michael Winner (The Jokers, Lawman, the Death Wish series) as a director any country would be proud to honour, except inexplicably the UK. Set these prejudices aside. Scorpio is a rewarding, value-for-money DVD. It is also, by the way, the shared Star sign of Delon, Lancaster and Winner.
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