Since the assassination of the pro-British King of Ramaut (an oil kingdom in the Middle East), the country has been ruled by Ahmed Ben Falid (Roger Delgado), the anti-British uncle of the boy king, Jamil (Christopher Witty), who is due to take over very soon.
Very English Colonel Drexel (Jack Hawkins) – an expert on the Arab world – is commissioned by the Foreign Office to abduct young Jamil, keep him safe until he is 14, and then persuade him to sign the oil concession in Britain’s favour.
Drexel insists on having his wartime collaborator, American David Frazer (Cliff Robertson), to help him on his mission.
Drexel abducts the boy and takes him to a mansion in Spain, and hands him over to the custody of Frazer, who has already become involved with a beautiful girl, Sophie (Marisa Mell) and her rather strange companions.
There follows a maze of double-crossings, murders, chases, and ludicrous detection, which leads to an exciting climax and an amusing conclusion.
The film cocks an impertinent snook at the British Secret Service and ridicules the whole cloak-and-dagger business – but it does so without discarding the essential excitement.
Except for the three deaths, the rough stuff is always given an element of humour, and the twisting of individual loyalties are clearly mapped so that the mysteries of the intricate plot are never confusing.
John Le Mesurier
Ahmed Ben Falid