Intent to Kill (1962): Jack Cardiff’s Political Melodrma, Starring Richard Todd, Betsy Drake and Herbert Lom

Jack Cardiff directed Intent to Kill, a British noir thriller, starring Richard Todd, Betsy Drake and Herbert Lom.

The film was based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Brian Moore (written under the pen-name Michael Bryan).

Juan Menda (Lom), the president of an unspecified South American country who has survived assassination attempt, is moved to Montreal for treatment of cranial blood clot.

His political opponents find out his whereabouts and hire Canadian hitmen to finish the job. Menda’s aide Francisco (Carlo Giustini) is also in town, and unknown to Menda he is behind the assassination plot.  Francisco lusts after Menda’s glamorous wife Carla (Lisa Gastoni), hoping to get her after Menda’s death.

British surgeon Bob McLaurin (Todd) is under pressure from nagging, dissatisfied wife Margaret (Catherine Boyle), who wants him to give up his job and move back to London to open cosmetic surgery for the wealthy. Margaret threatens to disclose Bob’s affair with surgeon Nancy Ferguson (Drake). The anxieties cause Bob to lose concentration during Menda’s operation, which almost fails.

Fearing for his safety, he demands to be moved to a different hospital room.
The hitmen make their move on what they believe to be Menda’s room, only to find they have killed an innocent man.

The hitmen’s carelessness leads to shooting it out with the police, with Bob in the middle. Confusion and chaos rage in the hospital, and one hitman enters Menda’s room, only to discover that Menda is waiting for him.

Richard Todd as Dr. Bob McLaurin
Betsy Drake as Dr. Nancy Ferguson
Herbert Lom as Juan Menda
Warren Stevens as Finch
Paul Carpenter as O’Brien
Alexander Knox as Dr. McNeil
Lisa Gastoni as Carla Menda
Carlo Giustini as Francisco Flores
Peter Arne as Kral


Directed by Jack Cardiff
Produced by Adrian D. Worker
Written by Jimmy Sangster, based on Brian Moore (novel)
Cinematography: Desmond Dickinson
Distributed by: Twentieth-Century Fox
Release date: July 16, 1958 (UK); March 31, 1959 (U.S.)
Running time: 88 minutes