Wednesday 6 June 2018

Nobody Runs Forever - 1968 film review

Nobody Runs Forever, also known as The High Commissioner, is based on a novel with the latter title, written by the Australian Jon Cleary. I've never read anything by Cleary, but when I was growing up, paperback editions of his novels were popular, and I bracketed him, rightly or wrongly, with the likes of Desmond Bagley, Alistair MacLean,and Geoffrey Jenkins.

The book introduced Scobie Malone, an Australian cop who became a long-running series character. In the film, he's played by Rod Taylor, who was probably at the height of his fame in the late 60s. Scobie is summoned to Sydney to go on a special mission to London - to bring back the Australian High Commissioner, who is suspected of having murdered his first wife. The order comes, incidentally, from Russell Napier, the veteran cop from the Scotland Yard TV series, whom I hadn't realised was indeed Australian.

In London, Scobie is persuaded by the High Commissioner - Christopher Plummer, at his most charismatic - that he needs a few days' grace before returning home, in order to conduct delicate (if rather vague) negotiations about world peace. Plummer's character proves to be a target for assassination, and Scobie finds himself confronted by a host of sinister and mysterious characters ranging from  Dahlia Lavi, Burt Kwouk, Clive Revill, Lee Montague, and Derren Nesbitt.

Overall, this is a competent rather than memorable thriller. The script-writer, Wilfred Greatorex, was a familiar name on the credits of TV shows at the time, and the ingredients are good, but I have never been a huge fan of Rod Taylor, who was, let's face it, no Sean Connery. Personally I'd have liked the storyline to focus more on Plummer's character. I found him more complex and more interesting than Scobie.  



Bill Carlin said...

I also watched this one recently, martin. I must agree that Christopher Plummer plays a far more interesting character and of course Leo McKern (in an uncredited cameo) steals the scenes he shares at the beginning of the movie to set the plot in motion. Rod Taylor had his moments in some other crime-related films though. I thought that his portrayal of Travis McGee in the adaptation of "Darker Than Amber" was fairly decent and that he played the title role in John Gardner's "The Liquidator" well enough to make it stand out among the Bond-imitations of the mid '60s. Not a classic but I enjoyed the nostalgia factor.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Bill. I've not seen Darker Than Amber, I'll make a note to look out for it. Agree about Leo McKern.

Xavier said...

Most of Cleary's output belongs in the adventure/thriller department but he was also a fairly good crime writer on the occasion. You suppose at this point I'm about to recommend you a book and you're right. The name is "Vortex" and it is an odd but thoroughly engrossing blend of disaster fiction (a major storm strikes a little American town) and mystery (the local sherriff tries to save everyone and at the same time solve a murder) The setting is well done, the plot is very clever and the characters surprisingly well realized. There are worse ways to waste one's time than reading this book. Also, it's easily available and quite affordable, which is not too frequent with books I recommend! :)