Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Adrian Messenger (John Merivale) asks his friend, British colonel Anthony Gethryn (George C. Scott), to check on the whereabouts of the eleven men named on a written list. Not long afterward, the plane on which Messenger is travelling is deliberately blown up. The mystery killer slipped the bomb on the plane while disguised as a priest, and we soon learn that the killer adopts a different guise for each of his subsequent murders. As Gethryn tracks down the men on Messenger's list, he discovers that all had been POWs in the same Burmese stockade during World War II, and he deduces that the murderer, who is methodically decimating those on the list, had been a traitor and informer. Gethryn traces the killer to the British estate of The Marquis of Gleneyre (Clive Brook), where his visit coincides with the return of "prodigal" American relative George Brougham (Kirk Douglas). Gethryn is convinced that Brougham is the killer, and that he plans to murder the only heir who stands in the way of the family fortune, but he has no tangible proof. Filmed primarily in Ireland, The List of Adrian Messenger received good theatrical bookings by virtue of its gimmick: several of the bit characters are played by famous stars in heavy makeup, and each of these stars -- Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, and Tony Curtis -- "unmasks" in the epilogue. In truth, only Douglas and Mitchum did any real acting under their mounds of collodion and crepe hair; the others showed up only to shoot their unmasking scenes (at a salary of $75,000 each!) and were "doubled" in the film itself.
disguise, family, fortune [wealth], heir, inheritance, investigation, killing, multiple-murder, murder, target [object of attack]
High Artistic Quality