Missile X: The Tehran Incident (1979, directed by Leslie H. Martinson)

The international terrorist and casino owner known as The Baron (Curd Jurgens) has stolen a Soviet-made nuclear warhead.  With the help of Prof. Nikolaeff (John Carradine), the Baron is planning on dropping the warhead on an international peace conference that is being held off the coast of Iran.  American Alec Franklin (Peter Graves) and Russians Konstanine Senyonov (Michael Dante) and Galina Fedorovna (Karin Schubert) want to prevent the Baron from doing that but, in order to stop the Baron, they’re going to need the help of Leila (Pouri Baneai), a member of the Shah’s secret police.

Missile X was a German-Italian-Spanish co-production that was shot on location in Tehran with the full cooperation of the Shah of Iran.  The film goes out of its way to attempt to present the Shah-era Tehran as being a modern and welcoming city, the type of place that anyone would by a fool not to choose for a vacation.  The Shah’s secret police are portrayed as being friendly and heroic and the only time the name “Ayatollah Khomeini” is mentioned is when Alex and Leila are listening to a radio and a news report mentions that Khomeini is far away in Paris.  Leila turns off the radio in the middle of the report, as if to say, “There’s someone will never have to think about again.”  Unfortunately, for both the film and the world at large, that was the case.  In an example of truly bad timing, Missile X was not released in the United States until December 10th, 1979, six days after Khomeini officially took control of Iran and a month into the Iran hostage crisis.  By the time the film was released, the Shah had long-since fled Iran and was seeking asylum and medical care in the United States.

As for the film itself, imagine a Bond film with no car chases, no exciting action sequences, no creative gadgets, and no one-liners.  Imagine also that the main Russian was played by an American who don’t even attempt to speak with any sort of accent.  On top of that, imagine if James Bond himself came across less like a ruthless super spy and more like an insurance executive trying not to overspend on the company account while on a business trip.  Curd Jurgens actually did play a memorable Bond villain in The Spy Who Loved Me but he sleepwalks his way through Missile X.  Not even giving him a mute henchman with a knife-hand can make the Baron seems dangerous.  Even if you can overlook all of that, the Baron’s plan never makes sense.  What does he have to gain from blowing up a peace conference?  Alec and Konstantine both agree that the Baron’s actions will probably start World War III and lead to the end of the world but it’s never explained why the Baron would want that.  Presumably, the Baron would end up getting blown up with everyone else.

Of course, you don’t have to imagine any of this.  You can just watch Missile X — The Tehran Incident.

One response to “Missile X: The Tehran Incident (1979, directed by Leslie H. Martinson)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 5/1/23 — 5/7/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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