The File of the Golden Goose

Director: Sam Wanamaker

Cast: Yul Brynner, Edward Woodward

Country of Origin - U.K.

Discs - 2

Distributor - Kino Lorber

Reviewer - Tyler Miller

Date - 05/13/14

The Film (2.5/5)

During a worldwide crime spree, U.S. Treasury agent Pete Novak (Yul Brynner) is targeted for assassination. But the hit goes wrong and Novak’s girlfriend is killed. With revenge in mind Novak takes the assignment to track down the counterfeit gang responsible, The Golden Goose gang. When arriving in London, Novak is given aid by Scotland yard detective Arthur Thompson (Edward Woodward) to infiltrate the gang. Things start to get fuzzy when the couple track down one of gang’s top men, named the Owl (Charles Gray) and Novak starts to question Thompson’s involvement.

File of the Golden Goose is a retelling of the 1947 Anthony Mann movie, T-Men. I still need to see that movie, but I can already say it’s probably a better movie. Never really connecting or thrilling, Golden Goose is a big misfire. Maybe the budget was too small or the direction wasn’t working, but something really stopped this from being better.

Yul Brynner is an actor I’ve grown to love in recent years after seeing some of his movies on Turner Classic Movies. Kings of The Sun being a strong highlight. But what strikes me about this movie is Brynner is given a chance to be funny in parts.. Edward Woodward is always a joy to watch, but he could do a lot better if his character was given more to do. Woodward has proven he can do challenging roles, like Wicker man or TV’s Callan, but here he seems to be sleep walking. Another odd casting choice is Charles Gray, best known for Rocky Horror Picture Show and Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever. Here he is cast as the queer of queers and his gay stereotype is just cringe worthy.

I can usually handle a mediocre crime film, but File of the Golden Goose is just poorly made and executed on every level. The camera work is flat, and the staging is boring. The action scenes could be ok, but the editing wrecks any attempt at thrills. The movie plays more like a live production TV episode. One important scene turns into an embarrassing parody, Brynner is chasing a suspect and he falls off the roof of a building. The movie then shows us three random clips edited together making it look like he fell, then bounced up then dropped again. The movie is also book ended by some of the worst narration I’ve heard in a noir styled film. Spoon feeding bits of information that we literally just saw.

The movie may be worth a viewing for some of its bizarre set pieces. A decent chunk of the film has Brynner in a bath house montage.  Brynner looks so lost in the scenes you can’t help but feel sorry for him. One impressive scene has Brynner tied to a car while gangsters play chicken with him.   While not the worst thriller out there, File of the Golden Goose is almost painfully dull. There’s a few good ideas in there but the lazy storytelling and terrible staging make this stick out as a stinker.

Audio/Video (3/5)

File of the Golden Goose comes with a 2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio track, and the movie mostly sounds fine. There’s a few spots near the end where the audio gets real soft and impossible to here. Other than that there’s no hiss and only minor problems. The movie is presented in a 1080p HD picture and looks great when scenes aren’t over lit. But that’s an issue with the movie and not the transfer. The close-ups of Brynner look fantastic.

Extras (2/5)

Extras are limited to the theatrical Trailer, and Trailers for Invitation to a Gunfighter, Taras Balba, and Kings of the Sun.

Overall (2.5/5)

Kino gives a good looking release to a pretty bad turkey of a movie. There are good moments in the film, but overall it’s just a mess. Worth a look for people interested in Brynner, but just a rental for the general audience.