A good cast goes through the motions in this cloak-and-dagger tale. Incarcerated in Poland, Nazi war criminal Markus Straud (Jan Rubes) breaks decades of silence to announce that he will do an interview; he demands to speak to Tully Windsor (Ron Silver), Chicago reporter for The Christian Science Monitor. During WWII, Straud hid a diamond called the White...read more
A good cast goes through the motions in this cloak-and-dagger tale.
Incarcerated in Poland, Nazi war criminal Markus Straud (Jan Rubes) breaks decades of silence to announce that he will do an interview; he demands to speak to Tully Windsor (Ron Silver), Chicago reporter for The Christian Science Monitor. During WWII, Straud hid a diamond called the White Raven,
and as Windsor arrives in Warsaw, various cabals have their agents poised. Police Inspector Zielinski (Jack Recknitz) wants the rock to help finance his resurgent fascist movement. American General Dodd (Doug Lennox) wants it to fund his retirement. And wealthy Zionist Hannah Rothschild (Elizabeth
Sheppard) wants it because it's hers--she gave up the White Raven in the Treblinka death camp to avoid rape by a vicious underling of Straud's. After the war, the assailant wound up in Windsor's family as childlike, brain-damaged "Uncle Boy" (Jerzy Zydkiewicz); it was Windsor's sentimental article
about him that got Straud's attention.
In their big meeting, Straud recites a cryptic series of numbers; the assorted factions after the diamond pursue Windsor for the precious information. The least disagreeable is Rothschild--and her grown daughter Julia (Joanna Pacula), who has been watching Windsor all along. She gets the reporter
safely back to Chicago, but Dodd and Zielinski soon follow. Even pathetic Uncle Boy turns up, interrogated to death by the Polish cop. Breaking Straud's code--and doing some crude surgery--Windsor locates the diamond, long crammed under the plate in his uncle's skull. Dodd subsequently nabs
Windsor, but is himself killed by Zielinski. Windsor manages to shoot Zielinski in a struggle, then brings the White Raven back to Hannah and Julia, while the Monitor prints a cover story which states that the gem was never found.
The politically potent idea of neo-Nazis on the rise in Poland gets a slight treatment in THE WHITE RAVEN. Canadian actor Jan Rubes steals the show as the sinister Straud, while Roy Scheider has a feisty but abbreviated role as Tully Windsor's bulldog boss at The Christian Science Monitor.
Media-savvy viewers may be amused at the portrayal of that eminent paper as sort of scrappy tabloid like Chicago's famously competing Tribune and Sun Times.
The film is colored by hyperbole and contrivance, from a silly erzatz action sequence which shows Tully pursued by mobs of zealous newshounds to Uncle Boy conveniently dumped in the hero's lap, just in time for Windsor to deduce the jewel's whereabouts. When, in the course of his role, Ron Silver
has to use a kitchen blade to slice an old man's skull, one can readily make allowances for his somewhat dispirited performance.
The film's callow spy-jinks and far-flung locales seem like a throwback to the Cold War espionage B-movies of the 1960s. In terms of subject matter, however, the international co- production is a step up for actor/director Andrew Stevens (NIGHT EYES, THE SEDUCTION) and Royal Oaks Entertainnment,
the low- budget production company he co-founded with former tennis champ Ashok Amritraj. Stevens keeps the proceedings lively and watchable, if not always logical, but characteristically finds a leather-heavy Warsaw music club to visit for some gratuitous kink. No MALTESE FALCON (1941), THE WHITE
RAVEN bypassed theaters for video and cable-TV markets. (Adult situations, violence, nudity, profanity.)
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