Naive U.S. scientist finds himself wrapped in international intrigue in “Target of Suspicion,” film that suffers mightily from lack of Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant amongst its credits.
Tim Matheson, starring in his fourth “USA Original” pic, plays Nick Matthews, academic who some years earlier developed what turned out to be a popular perfume. In Paris to arrange European distribution, Matthews is arrested for rape and subsequent murder of model Julie Dormoy (Noemie Kocher), whom he had encountered briefly and innocently.
Matthews is eventually cleared, and baddies brought to justice, thanks in large part to efforts of mysterious French woman Helene Chandreau (Agnes Soral), whom he meets in seedy Parisian dive while attempting to track down friends of now-dead Dormoy.
Other principals include French industrialist Charles Anton (Ronald Guttman) and Matthews’ wife, Jennifer (Lysette Anthony), herself a canny businessperson.
While Parisian scenery certainly adds to film’s flavor, “Target of Suspicion” suffers from below-par production values, most notably atrocious dubbing wherein several French characters speak with bad near-American accents. At one point, a police inspector (Alain Saint Alix) rallies his troops with an enthusiastic “Let’s go, guys, zut alors!”
Whatever charm Matheson may possess in other vehicles is totally lacking here; he’s seen as a non-too-brainy galoot who almost deserves being picked up by les flics, if only for being careless in choosing the people he associates with — he’s wrong in almost every instance.
Along the way, Matthews effects a spiky haircut with peroxide highlights, a disguise that enables him to parade down the Champs Elysees without arousing the suspicion of les gendarmes; at one point, he climbs tothe top of the Sacre Coeur cathedral to watch action on the street via one of the coin-operated telescopes.
Film is not totally lacking in merit, though. Thanks to Brian Ross’ teleplay, viewers can, for instance, learn secrets of French crime enforcement — like the constabulary’s ability to trace automatic teller machine transactions while in process, thanks to a guy watching a personal computer screen in what looks like his apartment.
Director Bob Swaim appears, briefly, as a fashion photographer. Coproduction company Ellipse is a Canal Plus subsidiary.