Delmonte (Raoul Aslan) owns a worthless, dried up oilfield in South
America, but he still wants to sell it to Europa Oil for an enormous
amount of money based on an outdated expertise by his employee Ugron (Paul
Hartmann). Ugron, fearing for his reputation, quits his job with Delmonte
and wants to talk him out of it, and as it happens, they both find
themselves on the same German-bound cruiseship. But on the boat, Delmonte
shows only little interest in Ugron's reservations, and all the more in
youns Sybil (Gerda Meraus), a young and pretty fellow passenger who for
some reason feels drawn to him ...
This all is only half the situation
though, because what neither Delmonte nor Ugron know is that there is a
ruthless businessman, Santos (Leonard Steckel), out there who wants to
prevent Delmonte from selling to Europa Oil by all means - so he can get
his hands on the oilfields himself. So he has placed two of his men, Pless
(Peter Lorre) and Godfrey (Oskar Homolka) on the ship who have hired Sybil
to get close to Delmonte and spy him out. Santos figures if Delmonte fails
to show up to an Europa Oil board meeting, everything will be over and
done, and he tells his men to somehow detain Delmonte for three days. But
while Pless and Godfrey still try to figure out a way to do this, Delmonte
buys himself a seat on the mailplane to arrive even ahead of schedule. In
his desperation to keep Delmonte from destroying Santos' plans, Godfrey
throws him overboard. Sybil, who witnesses this, only now begins to
realize what she has gotten herself into, and she also gets pretty
friendly with Ugron, but she seems to be unable to escape the grips of
Pless and Godfrey.
Godfrey in the meantime disguises himself as Delmonte
to make it to land on the mailplane in his stead ... and gets himself into
a heap of trouble when he is welcomed as Delmonte by the chairmen of
Europa Oil. Suddenly, he finds himself playing a dangerous charade ...
that gets all the sweeter for him when the the boss of Europa Oil offers
him a $100,000 bribe if he seals the deal with the company.
though, Ugron has arrived in town as well, and he could destroy
everything, but so have Pless and Sybil, and they try everything in their
power to keep him from doing so, even go so far as to blame him for the
disappearance of Godfrey (remember, since Godfrey is now Delmonte, it must
have been Godfrey who has gone overboard). And suddenly, Ugron, who wanted
to do nothing but save his reputation and prevent (the real) Delmonte from
sealing a crooked deal, finds himself on the run from the police. But
while Sybil was partly to blame for getting him into the tough spot, it's
also her who helps getting him out again, helping him every step along the
Finally, Ugron receives a cabled photograph from South America
showing the real Delmonte, which just about clears him, and then the
police arrives ... almost too late, maybe, because Europa Oil and Godfrey
have already inked the deal and he and Pless are on their way to the bank
to cash their $100,000 check.
The big finale has Godfrey, Pless, Santos,
Ugron, Sybille, the police and dozens of customers locked inside the bank
after the bank has received news that the Mr Delmonte who's cashing his
check is actually a fake, and now Godfrey panics, draws a gun, starts a
shootout, locks himself inside the bank's vault ... and ultimately shoots
himself, seeing there is no way out, both literally and metaphorically.
crimemovie that suffers from quite a few setbacks: The plot has a few too
many holes to fully engage the audience, the central character Ugron is a
bit lifeless due to lack of sufficient motivation and a pale performance
by Paul Hartmann, and the whole thing is a bit talky at times, loses
itself in unnecessary supporting characters like Ugron's sister (Eva
Schmid-Kayser) and her fiancé (Paul Kemp), shows irony at all the wrong
spots, and lacks any real action (considering it's a man-on-the-run-film).
However, at least Peter Lorre and Oskar Homolka give enjoyably meaty
performances, and the scenes where Homolka despairs locked inside the
bank's vault shows real inspiration. Still, nothing to write home about.
By the way, Invisible Opponent was simultaneously shot in
French as Les Requins du pétrole (1933, Rudolf Katscher, Henri
Decoin), with Lorre playing the same part in both versions.