After a ho-hum prologue set in Nazi Germany, Inside Out cuts to modern-day London, where Harry Morgan (Telly Savalas) is a businessman, a criminal, or both. He’s approached by Ernst Furben (James Mason), who served in the German Army during World War II and claims to know the location of gold that was hidden by the Nazis.
There’s some lip service given to how the men know each other, but, like Harry’s occupation, the information is neither clear nor memorable. In any event, Harry then recruits American adventurer Sylvester Wells (Robert Culp) to join the party.
Together, the men concoct an absurd scheme that involves liberating an ageing SS officer from jail, constructing a mock-up of Adolf Hitler’s WWII office, and training a man to portray Hitler. The plan also includes a dangerous and illegal entry into East Germany, which should be a source of great suspense, but is not.
The film makes very little sense. The conspirators all seem friendly and trusting with each other, the obstacles the protagonists encounter are surmounted with relative ease, and the outrageous resources the thieves need always seem to be readily available.
In terms of drama, logic, and tone, the movie is a disaster, right down to the all-over-the-place musical score, which combines disco passages and orchestral cues into sonic chaos.
Culp, Mason and Savalas ensure that Inside Out is more or less watchable, in particular, Savalas’ smug swagger periodically creates the false impression that the film has a sense of purpose.
Produced and released in cinemas in England, but originally shown in the US only on television on 31 December 1979 (where it bore the title Hitler’s Gold), this film offers a textbook example of how not to make a heist thriller.