48 Hours to Live (1959)

“48 Hours to Live” refers to the time limit imposed on a kidnapped nuclear scientist by a ring of spies before his daughter is harmed or killed. This movie sees British actor Anthony Steel taking a leading role as a journalist sent to a Swedish island to interview the Swedish scientist, Dr. Christenson. He leaves his current blonde flame behind (blonde #1), and she starts looking for another man. Steel manages to carry the movie along quite well in a mixed light/serious style something like Sean Connery’s Bond, although this movie is pre-Bond and has no spy gimmickry at all. Steel meets Christenson’s daughter on the ship but she’s being intimidated by two members of the spy gang, leading to a bizarre incident. She’s played by Marlies Behrens, who was “Miss Germany” at the time; she’s an attractive blonde who can act (blonde #2). One of the gang is a recognizable American actor who did a ton of television work, Lewis Charles. The rest of the cast is Swedish and scenic locations are in Sweden. It’s fun to see a cameo on the ship in which Ingemar Johansson, the then heavyweight world champion, appears.

When Steel visits Christenson, he finds that he’s being held prisoner. His task is to extricate him. Along the way, another blonde (blonde #3), a nightclub singer who delivers a complete song to us, attempts to seduce him. And for completeness, let’s note that when Steel returns to blonde #1, his girl friend, she’s occupied. But it doesn’t take long before he runs into a new prospect, blonde #4.

The movie is not directed or edited to be a tense, punchy, tight and threatening spy story even though it has serious incidents. Steel is not a spy and doesn’t carry a gun. He’s a journalist out to get a good story. He’s a light-hearted man confronted with a serious situation, and the movie reflects that mixed tone. It’s diverting and entertaining in its own way, as many less than stellar productions can be.