Drake’s holiday in Rome is cut short after he’s asked to investigate the murder of a banker called Frank Delroy (Philip Latham). It appears that Delroy, a man of previously unimpeachable character, has somehow managed to steal five million dollars worth of gold bullion. The location of the gold is currently unknown and the only lead for Drake is Delroy’s mistress, a witness to the murder whose identity is a mystery ….
Philip Latham is the latest quality actor who doesn’t make it past the opening credits. He’s given one slap too many by Mego (Colin Douglas), which is unfortunate since he hasn’t yet told Mego’s employer – Tony Mayne (John Lee) – where the gold is hidden. Douglas, not gifted any dialogue throughout the episode, is suitably imposing although there’s something faintly comic about Mego (maybe it’s the hat – see the Doctor Who story City of Death for further evidence that it’s hard to be a convincing heavy when you wear a hat).
Plot-wise, this script by Ralph Smart and Brian Clemens is a little lacking. We never learn why the whiter-than-white Delroy decides to suddenly risk everything by stealing the gold (nor how he did it). Also, Mayne’s connection with Delroy isn’t made clear. We do later discover that Mayne is in cahoots with Delroy’s estranged wife Stella (a wonderfully acid performance from Delphi Lawrence) although as she clearly loathes her husband with a passion, it’s unlikely he would have confided his nefarious plans to her.
The flat where Delroy was murdered contains several items of women’s clothing. Drake takes them to the shop where they came from and speaks to the proprietor, Gina Scarlotti (Barbara Shelley). She seems to do her best to help him, but every clue Drake is given turns out to be a frustrating dead end. Shelley’s performance has an appealing touch of vulnerability (it shouldn’t come as a shock to learn that Gina was Delroy’s mistress) although the fact Shelley is dubbed throughout is a bit of a problem.
In addition to the usual stock footage shots, there’s some nice work with a backcloth during a restaurant scene which helps to sell the illusion that we’re in Rome. That’s strengthened thanks to several minutes of location filming at Portmeirion. Clearly this location was filed away for later use ….
The episode climaxes with an entertaining punch up – Drake takes on Mayne and Mego and wins (although he has a helping hand from Gina, who shoots Mayne before he can do Drake any serious harm). The mystery of the missing gold is also resolved, although it’s best not to dwell on this part of the story too much.
Gina is insistent that she knows nothing about the gold, but it’s found remarkably easily in her holiday home. Delroy hid it in a packing case under a pile of books. Hmm. Given that this amount of bullion would be rather heavy (to put it mildly) just how did he get it all the way from Rome and inside her villa without anyone noticing?