“Assault on a Queen”

Reviewed by Steve Corbo

This 1966 action/drama stars an award-winning Italian cast of Frank Sinatra as Mark Brittain, Verna Lisi as Rosa Lucchesi, Tony Franciosa as Vic Rossiter and Richard Conte as Tony Moreno. Directed by Jack Donohue with a screenplay by Rod Serling, the film features music by Duke Ellington.

Set in the Caribbean, the film follows Rossiter as he heads a group of treasure hunters that includes Lucchesi and Eric Lauffnauer, a former German U-Boat commander played by Swedish actor Alf Kjellin. Scouring the ocean for sunken Spanish galleons, they consistently come up empty handed. After a diver they hired accidentally drowns while looking for treasure, the group hires Brittain, a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant, expert diver and submariner, played by Sinatra. He and his first mate, Linc Langley, played by Errol John, agree to dive for the group.

Again, they come up empty handed, but Brittain makes an interesting discovery, the remains of a WW II German U-Boat, sunk 20 years earlier. It is in remarkable condition, prompting Lauffnauer to propose that they use the submarine to commit robbery on the high seas. They raise the vessel and tow it to a private dock they’ve rented to bring the boat back to life. Moreno, a former Navy mechanic and war hero, is brought onboard to help in the restoration process. All the while, there is a sexual tension brewing between Lucchesi, Rossiter and Brittain.

They hatch a plan to pass themselves off as an experimental British submarine experiencing engine trouble, and board the ocean liner Queen Mary under the guise of seeking help. Once on board, they threaten to torpedo “the Queen” unless the captain relinquishes a million dollars in cash and gold bullion stored in the ship’s vault. Responsible for the lives of the passengers and crew, as well as the ship itself, the captain of “The Queen” has no choice but to give in to the pirates’ demands.

Rossiter’s greed; the connection between Lucchesi and Brittain; Brittain’s loyalty to his first mate, Langley; and the fanaticism of the former U-Boat commander, who is still fighting WW II, all factor into a series of unexpected twists that keep viewers in suspense until the very end.

To view the movie for free, click here.

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Steve Corbo

A founding member and corporate secretary of the Italian American Veterans Museum, Steve Corbo is the museum’s curator and a military consultant for Fra Noi. He has served for 25 years as president of S.A. Corbo & Associates Inc., providing professional liability insurance to health care providers. The son and nephew of World War II veterans and a passionate military historian for over 50 years, he has written and published articles on a variety of topics, including military history, and serves as the military consultant for Fra Noi, the Chicago-area Italian-American magazine.

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