Either Alan Ladd was in a bunch of makeup or he’d just had his eyes done because the way his eyebrows don’t move is disturbing. There are a few scenes where Liesen, presumably in an attempt to keep down the expository dialogue, has Ladd try to communicate with his eyes. They fail.
Those scenes, and a couple others with some particularly bad dialogue, are Ladd’s only bad moments in the film. Otherwise, he navigates through Captain Carey, U.S.A. rather well. The film is a mystery set post-World War II. Ladd’s back in Italy to discover who betrayed the O.S.S. during the war. It’s predictable (though there are a couple good red herrings) but the film gets about a third through before that predictability hurts it.
Liesen has some good moments–one big surprise–and he’s got a great cast for the most part. Unfortunately, the two principal supporting actors–Wanda Hendrix and Francis Lederer–are bad. Until the third act, the great performances from Joseph Calleia, Luis Alberni and Frank Puglia can overshadow. Eventually, they cannot.
Ladd manages to get through for the most part (watching him opposite Hendrix is particularly bad, since he’s holding up the scene himself and he can’t really use his eyebrows).
The film’s shot on a backlot with rear projection for Italy. Most of those shots are very successful. There are some impressive acrobatics around the street set from Ladd and Russ Tamblyn (whose lines are all in Italian).
It’s diverting but not distinctive.
Directed by Mitchell Leisen; screenplay by Robert Thoeren, based on the novel by Martha Albrand; director of photography, John F. Seitz; edited by Alma Macrorie; music by Hugo Friedhofer; produced by Richard Maibaum; released by Paramount Pictures.
Starring Alan Ladd (Captain Webster Carey), Wanda Hendrix (Baronessa Giulia de Graffi), Francis Lederer (Barone Rocco de Graffi), Joseph Calleia (Dr. Lunati), Celia Lovsky (Countess Francesca de Cresci), Richard Avonde (Count Carlo de Cresci), Frank Puglia (Luigi), Luis Alberni (Sandro), Angela Clarke (Serafina), Roland Winters (Manfredo Acuto), Paul Lees (Frank), Jane Nigh (Nancy), Russ Tamblyn (Pietro ), Virginia Farmer (Angelina) and David Leonard (Blind Musician).