Counterplot (1959)

Brock Miller (Forrest Tucker) is a man on the run from the law. After being framed for a murder in New York, he has fled the country.

Brock has taken up residence in an abandoned beach house near San Juan, Puerto Rico. He enlists the help of Manuel (Jackie Wayne), a young local, to bring him food and coffee.

(Image via Amazon)

(Image via Amazon)

Manuel is a snoopy kid. He digs through Brock’s pockets, looking for change to cover the supplies he brings to the beach house. He also reads every scrap of paper he comes by (including Brock’s “WANTED” notice) and takes an interest in Brock’s gun.

Brock’s girlfriend Connie (Allison Hayes) comes to Puerto Rico looking for her boyfriend, but Manuel is no help to her. He meets her on the shore when she arrives, but won’t tell her where Brock is.

Connie asks around, trying desperately to track Brock down. Dirty lawyer Fritz Bergmann (Gerald Milton) also becomes involved when he learns that Brock is on the island. Is Brock truly guilty of the crime? And if he isn’t, will Connie or Fritz be any help in clearing his name?

Kurt Neumann directs 1959’s Counterplot, a crime drama of crooked characters and cop-dodging.

Counterplot‘s story holds the viewer’s attention easily enough. Brock basically has two options: he can live the rest of his life on the run, leaving Puerto Rico and traveling through South America, or he can put up a fight and attempt to prove his innocence.

He chooses the latter option, though this puts him at risk of being convicted or killed. His decision adds a fair bit of tension to the film, even though the majority of the action takes place in the final 25 minutes or so (and even then, the film isn’t heavy with “big action” scenes).

The first two-thirds of Counterplot are more wordy than action-packed, and this does bring the film down a couple of notches. For a film with such an emphasis on dialogue, the writing should be stronger.

Some of the dialogue is just plain awful. Poor Jackie Wayne, in the role of Manuel, is made to drop letters and syllables from his words in attempt to sound “foreign.” All of this while speaking with your average midwestern/”neutral” accent. It’s very distracting.

On a brighter note, Allison Hayes gives a particularly good performance and has a strong screen presence in her role as Brock’s girlfriend, a talented singer who comes to Puerto Rico and takes a job performing at a bar. She easily steals the film from leading man Forrest Tucker, who gives a solid performance but doesn’t necessarily captivate the viewer in his scenes.

The photography is very nice as well. Shot in black and white, the film has a gritty look, between the lighting choices, the sets, and the costuming.

Counterplot has its weak points, but it has a few redeeming qualities, too. Though not as thrilling or well-scripted as it could have been, it still has a decent plot and a few good performances. I wouldn’t recommend this film highly, but it isn’t a bad watch. The score: 2.5/5

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