If Golden Salamander had been made in the USA some studio back-lot would have sufficed for Tunisia. But this being post World War II in Europe, the British film adventure was made on the actual location with interiors shot in the UK. That’s more than could be said for the great Casablanca.
In 1950 when this made the French were busy trying to hang on to their colonial empire and not making much of a go at it. Which brings us to the plot of Golden Salamander and how archaeologist Trevor Howard, in Tunisia to retrieve some salvaged Etruscan works gets himself mixed up in arms smuggling. The guy who has his archaeological treasures is Walter Rilla, the same man who is running the arms smuggling. He’s also the local big shot in the coastal town where this is all taking place and owns just about everyone.
Who to trust is Howard’s problem, he’s not even sure about the lovely Anouk Aimee, a refugee with brother Jacques Serna from the Nazis who has settled down there, but would like to get back to Paris once she can afford to. Because of the lack of trust involved in our hero’s part, Golden Salamander is an action adventure that plays a whole lot like film noir.
Herbert Lom is on hand as Rilla’s nasty henchmen. No mystery where he’s concerned. Until he got to play Inspector Dreyfys in the Pink Panther series, Lom was as reliable a villain as you could find in film. Wilfrid Hyde-White has an interesting part, if this had been done in America, Hoagy Carmichael would have been cast.
The title refers to a particular valuable piece of Etruscan art that is the centerpiece of the collection that Rilla is turning over to Howard. Golden Salamander is a nicely packaged action film with a twist of noir that should satisfy anyone.