The File of the Golden Goose (1969)

Yul Brynner, Charles Gray, Edward Woodward, John Barrie,
The File of the Golden Goose is a movie starring Yul Brynner, Charles Gray, and Edward Woodward. U.S. Agent Novak and Scotland Yard Officer Thompson go undercover to infiltrate a counterfeit organization.
  • 5.4 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • John C. Higgins, Robert E. Kent, Writer:
  • Sam Wanamaker, Director:
  • David E. Rose, Producer:

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8 / 10

Who killed the Golden Goose?

While File of the Golden Goose is not a particularly well made film, it does have it's charms.

This is one of those films one reaches for when you don't really want to watch a movie.

Yul Brynner plays Secret Service Agent Peter Novak, who, after his girlfriend is caught and killed in the crossfire of bullets meant him, vows revenge on the counterfeiting ring responsible for the hit. In London, Novak and married policeman Arthur Thompson go undercover as surviving members of the infamous Golden Goose gang in order to infiltrate the counterfeiting ring.

I've always enjoyed this movie because Yul Brynner appears to be having such fun as he digs deeper and deeper within the gang, intent on getting to the unknown Head Man.

Charles Gray is suitably over the top in his performance as 'The Owl.' The homosexual distribution manager for the gang's counterfeit money.

All in all, it's pretty entertaining. Brynner's terse dialog and intimidation factor work very well.

Production quality is very good, from the opening of a boy and his dog at play on the beach to the finale at the mansion home of the gang's mastermind

My only complaints is the over the top sleaze in some places and the need for perhaps more fluid camera work during action scenes. It's almost like no one knew how to choreograph a film fight. Finally, the resolution of the identity of the 'Head Man' still falls flat, even after 40 years.

Still, this is a fondly remembered film still enjoyed.

But...if the gang had tried to kill Novak at the beginning of the movie, how could he expect to infiltrate them?

5 / 10

U.S. agent infiltrates forgery ring in London...

U.S. secret service agent YUL BRYNNER is enlisted by Scotland Yard to infiltrate a forgery ring distributing phony U.S. currency in London. He joins a Scotland Yard man EDWARD WOODWARD in this story that appears to be a remake of T-MEN, a thriller from the '40s that starred Dennis O'Keefe in the Brynner role. This version starts in the same terse documentary style as the American film.

It's Brynner who decides the best way to capture the mob is to infiltrate them, with Woodward as his back-up, a man with a wife and two children. Brynner is motivated by revenge. His sweetheart was killed in America by men who meant to kill him. Brynner has his misgivings about Woodward. "A married man should be sitting behind a desk shoving papers." He's afraid Woodward won't be a good back-up for him since he refuses to carry a gun.

The London backgrounds add flavor to the story, but the script is a cumbersome one, lacking the tension of T-MEN. Dull stretches toward the middle of the story take away from interest for the overall story to have the desired effect. Sam Wanamaker's direction is much too sluggish for this kind of yarn. CHARLES GRAY does a nice job as "The Owl".

The storyline is so similar in detail to T-MEN that it's an example of how a 1940s film noir filmed in shadowy B&W can be so superior to this Technicolor remake shifted to London locales but otherwise much the same story, except for some minor changes toward the conclusion.

Summing up: Should have generated more suspense. A better editing job would have helped the sluggish pace of a film that is not without a certain amount of intrigue and danger.

6 / 10

"It takes two to call off a deal".

Quite routine as can be for a crime feature, but there's somewhat a dreary and hardened underbelly. The investigation that transpires is predictably weary as you feel like your watching something out of a old- school crime TV episode? but what it has going for it is that the grimy locations help with the moody ambiance and the main performances up it a notch. Yul Brynner is in the lead and along side are Edward Woodward and Charles Gray as a shady, if eccentric villain "The Owl". So there are some real solid acting chops on show.

An American secret service agent working with Scotland Yard goes about trying to infiltrate a dangerous counterfeit ring looking to upscale their business. Brynner plays it tough as nails (but there's something a little more to his psyche that be shows minor cracks), while Woodward is the chatty local partner who's assigned to Brynner's American agent. I thought it was going to play out like some buddy feature (as the two shared a fitting combination with some British humour), but it soon moves away from that angle midway through when the thick script brings in the villains and the scheming begins (also slowing things down) as our protagonist (Brynner) sets his plans in motion by snooping and trying to uncover the mastermind behind this counterfeit ring. In between this are some intense exchanges, beat-downs, nasty encounters and sauna visiting amongst the London views.

There's clichés aplenty amongst the smokescreen of genre staples and throw in that racy big band score typical of the era. The plot is rather thin, as you can feel it being stretched out with the amount of repetitive actions occurring and its revelation feels abrupt making little headway, but I always found Brynner to be a very watchable actor despite that detached-persona and it does possess a dangerous edge never making the character feel too safe. The earnest direction is tranquil in manner and the handling rather practical in style, as the pace is leisured throughout making a little sluggish. Although its does come to a crushing end in the final stages with a downbeat final shot.

"He's rather a tough nut".

7 / 10

U.S.Secret Service and Scotland Yard Smash International Counterfeit Ring!

Yul Brynner (yes, Yul Brynner, believe it or not) plays a U.S. Secret Service agent assigned by Washington to investigate an international gang counterfeiting $100 bills in Europe. He teams up with a Scotland Yard detective played by Edward Woodward ("The Equalizer" in a future life).

The movie opens with the gang attempting to assassinate Brynner near the United Nations building in New York, because he has developed too much evidence. The gang misses, of course, but his girl friend is killed. Brynner travels to London, works undercover, and gets in good with the gang.

I gave this movie a 7 out of 10, if only because they got the right American law enforcement agency (Secret Service) investigating counterfeit.

6 / 10

Yul Brynner was Outstanding

If you are a big fan of Yul Brynner who plays the role of a U.S. Secret Service agent named Peter Novak, you will enjoy his great performance dealing with Scotland Yard policemen and a very dangerous counterfeiting ring of thugs. Novak joins up with his partner, Edward Woodward,(Arthur Thompson) who works for Scotland Yard and the two of them decide to work their way into this counterfeiting gang who are very clever and will kill you at the drop of a dime. Peter Novak runs into all kinds of situations and even a brothel and message parlors. This film runs rather long and it seemed to me they could have cut a great deal of this film on the cutting room floor, and the ending was very disappointing. However, all the actors in this film gave an outstanding performance and it was great to see this Classic 1969 film.