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Missing Leading Man

A taut little thriller with the kind of plot that might have graced a Hollywood B picture of the '40s, "Missing Leading Man" is extremely well-directed by Arpad Sopsits, who previously scored with "Video Blues" (1992). A natural for Euro TV programming, the film, though undeniably modest in scope, contains more entertainment value than many a more ambitious effort. Central to the film's success is French thesp Claudio Bleont, who gives a charismatic performance as Karoly, a filmmaker with a project about a convicted murderer. However, his plans are thrown into disarray when the killer, Derengo, makes a daring escape from prison during an inhouse production of the "Passion Play," in which he was playing Mary Magdalene in drag. Karoly discovers evidence that Derengo has broken into his apartment, leaving behind the female garb he wore in the play along with his wallet and stealing some of Karoly's clothes and his car.

With:
Karoly ... Claudio Bleont Helen ... Andrea Bozo Anya ... Mari Csomos Father ... Istvan Fonyo Karmai ... Zsolt Kovacs Lajos ... Lajos Kovacs

Unable to continue with his film plans until the mystery of Derengo’s whereabouts is resolved, Karoly tracks down the missing man’s girlfriend, Helen (Andrea Bozo), who joins him in contacting members of the convict’s family and his cellmates, including a beefy con (Lajos Kovacs) who reveals that Derengo adopted the role of a “sensitive beautiful woman” while in prison. Karoly gradually discovers that Derengo might not, after all, have committed the murder for which he was convicted; he’s also drawn into a relationship with the sultry Helen.

Sopsits makes the most of this slender material, keeping the viewer in as much suspense as the protagonist, who feels he’s being constantly watched by someone, possibly the missing man.

Pic is smoothly crafted, with top-drawer production values.

Missing Leading Man

Hungarian

Production: An MTV-FMS-Hunnia Filmstudio production, with the support of MMA, Telefilm. Produced by Sandor Simo, Jolan Arvai. Directed by Arpad Sopsits. Screenplay, Sopsits, Andras Szeredas, Csaba Kiss.

Crew: Camera (color), Mitran Doru, Gabor Medvigy; editors, Maria Rigo, Andrea Szakas; music, Laszlo Melis; production design, Studio Pauer; costumes, Edit Szucs; sound, Peter Kardos; assistant director, Zoltan Gazsi. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 11, 1997. Running time: 79 MIN.

With: Karoly ... Claudio Bleont Helen ... Andrea Bozo Anya ... Mari Csomos Father ... Istvan Fonyo Karmai ... Zsolt Kovacs Lajos ... Lajos Kovacs

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