Roger Moore exchanges his services as an agent for her majesty for a psychiatric practice in the Windy City. As Dr. Judd Stevens, Moore is losing his patients in an adaptation of Sidney Sheldon’s The Naked Face, written for the screen and directed by Bryan Forbes (International Velvet, The Stepford Wives), is a decent mystery-thriller from Cannon Films.
Following the murder of a patient who happened to be clad in Stevens’ windbreaker, the doctor is met by two policemen. It’s something of a reunion as one of them, Lt. McGreavy (Rod Steiger) was the victim of a killer who the doctor testified on behalf of. The killer was spared from a death sentence thanks to Stevens and McGreavy doesn’t let him forget it. Detective Angeli (Elliot Gould), McGreavy’s partner, is a bit more even tempered than him. Shaken by the news of the death, Stevens is stirred by McGreavy’s treating him as his mortal foe.
Stevens later meets with his brother-in-law Dr. Hadley (David Hedison, who previously appeared with Moore in Live and Let Die and ffolkes) to talk about his meeting with the police. Stevens returns home to find the police snooping around which pains him. Stevens is even more horrified to find his office ransacked and his secretary murdered. The police are nowhere near to finding the killer and Stevens is later nearly retired permanently when he has a close call with a maniacal motorcyclist.
Thanks to Hadley, Stevens has a new–albeit temporary–place to practice. The killer is still at large with the doctor having few options. The police are all but forcing Stevens to turn over his patients’ files to them though he has no interest in doing so.
Moore offers a credible performance which all but makes one forget about 007, more so than his recent non-Bond roles. Steiger, too, is impressive as the embittered McGreavy proving that he is still something of a formidable presence in a role which like most of his recent efforts offers little more than a paycheck, sadly.
As for the likes of the supporting players like Hedison and Anne Archer, their roles seem whittled down by the editing. Still, given that the producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus primarily offer up movies with martial artisans and breakdancers, The Naked Face is a welcome change of pace and is worth a look.