Watch The Borgia Stick
- 1 hr 40 min
The Borgia Stick is a captivating made-for-television film that premiered on network television in 1967, during a time when the small screen was beginning to rival the silver screen in narrative complexity and star power. Starring Don Murray, Inger Stevens, and Barry Nelson, this suspense-filled drama takes its audience deep into the insidious world of organized crime, corporate malfeasance, and the human struggle to break free from the chains of a corrupt system.
At the center of the story, we find Tom Harrison (played by Don Murray), a handsome and successful executive with an aura of charm that masks his tumultuous inner life. Tom is not just any corporate figure; he is a man secretly entangled with the mob, serving as their buttoned-up, boardroom face in legitimate circles. His involvement is far from voluntary; rather, it is the inescapable result of a dangerous arrangement that forces him to lead a double life, filled with the peril that comes with such a treacherous association.
Accompanying Tom on this journey is his loving and beautiful wife, Eve Harrison (played by Inger Stevens), who is entirely unaware of the clandestine life her husband leads. Eve represents the innocence and blissful ignorance that Tom desperately longs to protect, but as shadows of his secret life begin to encroach upon their seemingly idyllic existence, the tension between what is and what seems becomes increasingly pronounced.
Barry Nelson steps into the role of Anderson, another key player in the drama. He is emblematic of the corporate and criminal interests that manipulate individuals for their gain, casting aside morality in favor of profit and power. His presence in the film is a chilling reminder of how deep the roots of corruption can go.
In a narrative that delves deep into the themes of deception, loyalty, and the quest for redemption, The Borgia Stick offers a compelling character study within a suspenseful plot structure. On one hand, it's a domestic drama, where the seeds of doubt slowly sprout within a marriage that is supposed to be grounded in trust. On the other hand, it functions as a corporate thriller, with high stakes, shadowy deals, and the pervasive fear that comes from knowing too much.
The film takes its title from the notorious Borgia family of the Italian Renaissance, known for their ambitious schemes and the use of a hollowed-out cane known as the Borgia stick, traditionally used for assassinating enemies by poison. This historical allusion serves as a metaphor within the film's modern context, describing the subtlety with which malevolence can be administered in contemporary society, often going undetected until it's far too late.
The screenplay weaves an intricate tapestry of lies and half-truths, with dialogues that resonate with the sound of a man trying to quiet the dissonance between the life he leads and the life he desires. The script subtly hints at Tom Harrison's complex psychology, leaving viewers engaged as they attempt to unravel the true extent and nature of his involvement with the organization that has him in its grip.
For its time, the production value of The Borgia Stick is commendable, with direction that balances moments of quiet tension with sudden bursts of action, creating a viewing experience that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. It artfully captures the era's corporate aesthetic and the underbelly of mob influence, offering a window into a segment of '60s America that is often romanticized, yet rarely scrutinized with such depth.
While a lesser production might have fumbled with the moral ambiguity at its core, The Borgia Stick presents it with nuance, driven by strong performances from its leads. Don Murray brings a potent mix of charm and torment to his portrayal of Tom Harrison, keeping viewers sympathetic to his plight, while Inger Stevens imbues Eve with a warmth and vulnerability that make her character's journey all the more heart-wrenching.
The supporting cast rounds out the film effectively, bringing to life a world wherein the lines between friend and foe, right and wrong, are blurred by the omnipresent influence of organized crime. The film does not shy away from addressing the systemic nature of the mob's reach into legitimate business, creating a chilling reflection on the perils of unchecked ambition and the often-unseen costs of doing business with the devil.
In conclusion, The Borgia Stick is both a product of its time and a timeless exploration of the dangers of collusion between legitimate business and the criminal underworld. Its story is a well-crafted narrative labyrinth that compels the viewer to navigate the gray areas of human morality along with its fascinating characters, serving as a poignant, suspenseful, and ultimately thought-provoking piece of cinematic storytelling.