Sale temps pour les mouches (Guy Lefranc,1966)
An awkward comedy affair featuring Le commissaire San Antonio (Gérard Barray) and his painful sidekick Bérurier (Jean Richard.) that plays like a French carry on film with no laughs. San Antonio is an undercover agent who infiltrates a gang responsible for kidnapping atomic scientists.
The jokes are long winded and hard to watch; Bérurier’s obsession with food and the perfect sandwich, a portable radio that is a transmitter (cue listening in on sex gag) and constant slapstick do little to engage. Gérard Barray is much better in the straight spy film “Baraka sur X77”. He is out of place here with the face pulling and dull dialogue which are interminable. There are two or three action sequences to lighten the experience such as an escape from a bunker filling with gas, a kidnapping on a train and a sky diving finale where San Antonio finally makes the big arrest. But that is it. It looks and feels like a television comedy with back projection, flat lighting and an unimaginative script.
It is a shame that none of the style of the opening title sequence and upbeat brass theme music spill over into the film. Stay away. 1/10
Saltzberg Connection, The (Lee H. Katzin, 1972)
An overlooked example of Mittel-Europe spy cinema. Taking as an aesthetic the more austere settings of Germany and Switzerland, Mittel- Europe spy films take advantage of the dark forests and lakes, alpine mountains and the rain splashed cobbles and spires of the cities to conjure their atmosphere.
“The Saltzberg Connection” epitomises this style with its tale of Nazi secrets hidden at the bottom of a Swiss lake. Bill Mathison (Barry Newman) is a lawyer who finds himself at the sharp end of a fight for the documents between CIA, Israeli and Neo - Nazi agents. Being a Barry Newman film, there is a splendid car chase (see “Vanishing Point” or “Fear is the Key”.) The twist in this one is rather than a speedy getaway, Newman comes out on top by slowing down the traffic to a near standstill.
Plenty of top notch European acting talent is enlisted for “The Saltzberg Connection” including Godard’s favourite Anna Karina, Wolfgang (Dr. Mabuse) Preiss and Klaus Maria Brandauer. Udo Kier appears also as a rather nasty spy and Karen Jensen is also worth a mention as the positively schizophrenic Elissa Lang; a wonderfully duplicitous agent.
In trying to cover all the complexities of Helen MacInnis’ novel, the film is certainly dense and confusing but the atmosphere is rich and effective. For a fan of the Mittel-Europe spy subgenre or someone who likes crossword puzzles, it is a pleasure. 7/10
Sfida nella città dell'oro aka Challenge in the City of Gold (Alfredo Medori, Hermann Kugelstadt ,Wolfgang Schleif 1962)
The fact that Sfida nella città dell'oro is credited to three directors does not bode well. The fact that it was the only foray into film production by Monaco based would be mogul Lothar Lomberg is further indictation that this was something of an oddball film. Sfida nella città dell'oro is certainly that.
Filmed mostly in Cape Town, South Africa the film was made in the same year as “Mondo Cane” and shares the same cod anthropological style in its travelogue examination of the natives. Shocking self mortifaction dance rituals by the natives are tediously long and offer little light relief from the plodding tale of diamond smugglers.
For the record, the plot revolves around Veronika Hanstein (Silvia Simon) a pretty blonde who gets mixed up with the diamond thieves and it is left to Kommissar Jochen Wilke (Michael Cramer) and her annoying boyfriend Frank Fleischer (Michael Kirner) to get her out of trouble. Cramer comes over like Joachim Fuchsberger in an Edgar Wallace story even looking the same. In fact the whole film has the German exotic adventurer genre feel. (Men in baggy shorts, diamonds, exotic natives, lots of talking and a fist fight at the end.)
Probably the best part of the film is the overextended driving shots taken of Cape Town which feel like a 16mm travelogue film made for a travel agency. They are a fascinating historical record that could have been shot 10 years earlier as the city is full of 1950s American cars and fashions. 2/10
Shadow of Fear (Ernest Morris 1963)
Ernest Morris directed a handful of one hour program fillers for British low budget outfit Butchers Film Productions. He made two espionage titles in 1963: “Shadow of Fear” and “Echo of Diana”. “Shadow of Fear” is the better film featuring the story of American Bill Martin (Paul Maxwell) on his way back from Iraq being kidnapped by a spy ring in London. The film has its downsides; Martin is gullible and his portrayal by chubby Maxwell is not particularly engaging. The lacklustre spies that are after him seem a little inept. But there are some redeeming qualities: it is a good period piece with lots of London locations and an enjoyable escapade to Seaford in Kent. The “men from intelligence” are suitably austere and love interest Clare Owen is very1950s. It’s all over in the blink of an eye which is probably a good thing as it doesn’t get the chance to outstay its welcome. (Morris’s final film was also a spy film; “The Return of Dr. Moto” with Henry Silva.) 4/10
Si, j’etais un espion (Bertrand Blier, 1967)
Bertrand Blier’s first film is a low key chamber piece featuring his father Bernard Blier and Bruno Cremer. Bernard plays Lefèvre, a doctor from the suburbs, unwillingly drawn into a web of intrigue. The plot centers on one of Lefèvre patients; a man named Guérin who has a habit of changing his address. Guérin belonged to an international organization of spies. Matras (Bruno Cremer) is also member of said organization and uses fear, violence and blackmail to make the doctor reveal Guérin’s whereabouts.
Although made in 1966, the film is shot in black and white enhancing the somber mood. Most of the story takes place at night and indoors. There is very little action and the piece is entirely dialogue driven giving it the feel of a nouvelle vague noir. Scenes are punctuated by urban traffic shots and Serge Gainsbourg and Michel Colombier’s first rate score which has not dated at all. The down tempo bass driven spy sound with a melancholy melody is most arresting.
Both Bernard Blier and Bruno Cremer regularly acted in spy films throughout their careers. It’s good to watch Bruno in an early role playing with intensity against old pro Bernard. 4/10
Si muore solo una volte (Giancarlo Romitelli as Don Reynolds, 1967)
“Si muore solo una volte” which translates as “You Only Die Once” is a glossy Ray Danton spy film that adopts the classic Eurospy motifs. There are lots of jet-setting, glamorous girls, nightclub scenes, torch songs and gunfights. Danton’s character Mike Gold is trying to nail a terrorist spy ring who he believes killed his partner. His investigation takes him to Beirut where he is ensnared by a faux-damsel in distress called Jane. After finding out she has been planted, he ties her up and leaves her in the bath for later. After evading further attacks and tricks, Gold makes it to Malta where he attends a reception of the mysterious Krug organisation. His former partner is holed up with a nasty heroin habit upstairs and Gold uncovers a massive terrorist plot to blow up a power station.
The Carlo Savina score it jazz driven and quite serviceable. Of particular note is the opening song “Che uomo sei” sung by Ammorita Spinaci; a classic spy torch sung that translates as “That Man Six”.
Ray Danton looks as slim and slick as ever with a smart array of outfits to dress his nimble frame. Pamela Tudor and Silvia Solar are the Eurospy babes who brighten the proceedings. There is plenty of action with helicopters, bazookas, mass gassing and hairpin bend car chases. The only failing is the decision to speed up a few of the action shots – why? Could this be the result of meddlesome German distributor where the print only runs for 74 minutes of the original 80 minutes of the Italian print? 6/10
Sicario 77 vivo o morto (Mino Guerrini, 1968)
Rod Dana (as Robert Mark) plays Ralph Lester in this super stylish spy thriller. Filmed by great cinematographer Vittorio Storrio, the film has terrific visual style. It is rich in deep focus, heavily fore-grounded framing devices and dynamic panoramas. (Just as Sidney Furie did with "The Ipcress File"). Added to this is Federico Martínez Tudó’s exciting score that is full of “Ipcress" style lazy flutes and fast spy jazz.
Ralph Lester is investigating dollar bills that have strange coded letters printed on them. Aided by alluring Minnie (Alicia Brandt), Lester is after the source of the dollar bills - former Nazi and would be world dominator Mr. King. Investigations start at the Kit Kat Club where Mr. King is surrounded by bunny girls. Lester has to deal with machine gun totting Alfredo – a mad eyed blonde psycho who has just killed Lester’s contact - the cigarette girl.
King has his centre of operations in Barcelona including a castle, underground lair, black uniformed army and more unpleasant henchmen including Gonzalez welding a whip of hooks.
Lester is pursued by King’s spies. Trapped in a lift by them, Lester uses a radioactive transmitter bullet on himself to feign death and call in the cavalry. He escapes via a cable car over the city but is caught again in the docks.
The finale involves much fighting, double crossing spy girls, stunning architecture (Gaudi’s buildings are heavily featured) and Lester getting very angry with a Bazooka.
Rod Dana is an impressive agent – he looks good in his well cut wardrobe, is a convincing fighter, ladies man etc. In addition to these prerequisites he has a realistic and serious edge that is brought to the fore by the narrative. Lester has a tough time, endures several beatings, gets caught, knocked out, has to shoot himself, gets shot and torn by the hook whip. This man is not invulnerable. And he wears glasses (Ipcress again). Sicario 77 is all the more exciting for Dana’s super spy skills being truly tested. A very stylish Eurospy. 8/10
Silenzio si uccide aka Handle With Care (Guido Zurli, 1967)
Secret agent Mark Roberts (Rodd Dana) is described by his very angry boss as a “lascivious pleasure seeking sybarite”. Indeed this agent does not have his eye on the ball as he wanders through this convoluted story. Super-spy skills are non existent and his only asset is luck. Rod Dana, here billed as Robert Mark, is unable to utilise the style and panache he brought to his other espionage adventures.
Although the film starts with rather obvious stock footage of Acapulco, the budget actually extends to a thorough trans-global tour. Rodd Dana whizzes around Paris, Barcelona, London and North Africa as he tries to curb the activities of a gang of arms smugglers. It is a shame more money was not spent on the script which is leaden. Logic is left out of the proceedings. An endless parade of new and uninteresting characters swamped by dingy dialogue keeps things static. Rodd Dana seems as confused as the viewer: when a dead girl falls out of a wardrobe he says: “Who is she? And what is she doing in there?”
Despite having secrets in shoes, scuba divers, good locations and a decent leading man, “Silenzio Si Uccide” is bottom of the Eurospy pile. All 78 minutes of the English version seems very long. 2/10
Sky Liner (William Berke 1949)
A swift fifty minutes of espionage in the air as FBI agent Steve Blair (Richard Travis) has to catch a spy on a TWA flight to Chicago. An economical film in every respect, “Sky Liner” is further proof that setting a film on board a train or a plane creates atmosphere and momentum of its own. Most of the running time takes place inside the plane where various characters fall under suspicion and die!
Modern and glamorous air travel is at the centre of the mise en scene of “Sky Liner”. The departure lounge reception in New York, the prominent TWA logo throughout, the silver bird Constellation aircraft and the luxurious service on board all appeal to the post war taste for jet-setting. And in the lead role is pretty TWA Stewardess Carol (Pamela Blake) who aides Agent Blair.
“Sky Liner” is certainly an entertaining B picture that does not hang around.
Soldier, The (James Glickenhaus, 1982)
Whilst having some nice European location shooting and a steady pace this American CIA thriller suffers from polarised right wing politics, implausibility and a weak ending.
Like so many spy films, “The Soldier” has a striking opening title sequence that promises much: a montage of stills, pictograms and flags with a Tangerine Dream score. This is quickly followed by a compelling KGB training camp scene with Klaus Kinski at the helm. Meanwhile in Washington, Ken Wahl is introduced as “The Soldier”, head of an elite operations squad. His team are sent to Europe and the Middle East to foil Kinski’s plan to blow up Saudi oil fields.
A memorable car chase involving a Porsche flying over the Berlin wall and an engaging ski resort sequence are highpoints. However, the final third of the film disappoints. Having achieved quite a bit of narrative momentum, “The Soldier” settles into a dull race against the bomb clock finale with a throwaway dénouement that is aggravating. Having jacked up its credentials as a quality spy film “The Soldier” drifts into “A team” territory where it is quickly forgotten.
Some Girls Do (Ralph Thomas, 1969)
“Some Girls Do” is a very pale imitation of its predecessor “Deadlier than the Male”. The same recipe was used but something went wrong in Ralph Thomas’ kitchen. “Deadlier” struck the right balance between comedy and adventure. The cast and the script played it straight with just the odd playful aside or pun. The fun and comedy naturally flowed. “Some Girls Do” instead veers off into “Carry on” films territory with silly characters, faux- sixties hip gags and bad jokes. Even director Ralph Thomas’ successful comedy “doctor” series of films had relied on the cast and dialogue playing it straight. In an effort to repeat the success of “Deadlier”, Thomas clearly misjudged what had made the film work. He would have been better emulating his serious espionage dramas like “Nobody Runs Forever”, “The High Bright Sun” and the masterful “Venetian Bird”.
Richard Johnson tries hard to keep things on track with a reprise of his smart and devilishly handsome reworking of the Bulldog Drummond character. The corny dialogue is somewhat diminished by his presence, but the odds are stacked against him. For starters there is wide eyed sidekick Flicky (Sidney Rome) who is seriously unfunny and irritating. When she is off the screen for ten minutes, the film improves. Here Drummond meets the Baroness Helga (Daliah Lavi) while clay shooting. This is one of the few scenes that isn’t silly and is quite telling. Lavi has the same sexy and dangerous presence that made Elke Sommer so effective in “Deadlier”. However, her effectiveness is watered down by being saddled with another jokey character Pandora (Bebe Loncar). Loncar rolls her eyes and giggles like a little girl offering none of the scatty sadism of Sylva Koscina in “Deadlier”. The introduction of goofy characters reaches its nadir with Peregrine Carruthers (Ronnie Stevens) as a ridiculous hip – swinging, mummy’s boy, virgin, secret agent in North Africa. Not even Richard Johnson’s solid portrait of Drummond is up to that. Finally, James Villiars as the villainous Carl Peterson is fairly dull (Nigel Green in “Deadlier” was far more menacing in the same role)
So what does it have going for it? An army of robotised female agents in skimpy red uniforms offers some consolation. Comparable with a Jess Franco set, the island of robot women that Drummond has to conquer is pretty good fun. Dalahi Lavi’s spy wardrobe has it’s moments with a white suit in one scene and black leather motorcycle outfit in another. Joanna Lumley and Robert Morley make brief appearances. And that’s about all, which is a shame. Watching the scenes with just Lavi and Johnson one has an inkling of what might have been. 3/10
Spia Spione (Bruno Corbucci, 1967)
Cheesy pratfalls from Landro Buzzanca who thinks he is a spy but he isn’t. If you laugh at people walking into things or want to see Landro perform wild and hilarious one legged water skiing antics this is for you. Belongs to the same world of slapstick Italian humour as Franco & Ciccio. Despite Teresa Gimpera looking good in a leather catsuit, this is only for the converted. Director Bruno Corbucci made similar Italian lightweight with Lando in the shape of James Tont operazione U.N.O. & D.U.O. He also wrote spy comedies Kiss Kiss... Bang Bang and Totò d'Arabia 1/10
(Co-Writer Jaime Jesús Balcázar wrote genre entry “Feuer frei auf Frankie” along with several fumetti.)
Spie amano i fiori, La aka The Spy Who Loved Flowers (Umberto Lenzi, 1966)
Umberto Lenzi deviates from the spy formula with mixed results in “La Spie Amano i Fiori”. Roger Browne’s Martin Stevens is an assassin spy without conscience. Established in the pre title scene where he poisons a female agent to get back the “electroscomatron”, Stevens is not above shooting in cold blood or in the back. As he says in a plumy English accent, it is all “good hunting”.
Yoko Tani, always typecast as an enemy Chinese spy, unusually changes sides in this film. True to the genre, she has to die for being a traitor in the first place, but she is allowed a tragic death scene in Roger’s arms as he whispers “I was wrong when I said you were a robot. Everyone has something good inside them.” (Finding “the good in people” is a central issue in Lenzi’s later Eurocrime films like “Almost Human” aka “Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare”.)
In “La Spie Amano I Fiori”, Lenzi makes his characters do the unexpected. By presenting a cold blooded hero, a Chinese spy as an ally, and the chief of the British secret service as the villain, Lenzi is subverting the archetypes that are usually immovable in the Eurospy genre.
Rather than letting you sit back and enjoy the comfort of ticking off motifs as they are replayed from previous spy film experiences, Lenzi keeps you on your toes by playing with expectations. However, these shifts in characterisation do not lead anywhere. Many of the other Eurospy motifs remain untouched; a pan - European tour (London, Geneva, Athens), spy gadgets, gun battles and car chases are all depicted as usual but at a lacklustre pace.
The tension between presenting a straight Eurospy genre film and playing with the archetypical characters may account for the uneven feel of the film. “La Spie Amano I Fiori” is an unsatisfying genre piece that fails to work as the transgressive Eurospy film it would probably like to be.
That said, special mention should be made of the some of the Eurospy touches. The fetishistic handling and "screwing on" of silencers that punctuates the film; including the opening titles. Also the red pvc coat worn by Emma Daniela is particularly “spy”. 4/10
Spie uccidono in silenzio, Le aka Spy Strikes silently (Mario Caiano, 1966)
Mario Caiano directed this slightly unhinged Lang Jeffries spy story. Despite some rough edges there is plenty here for the Eurospy enthusiast. The film kicks off with a funky photo montage opening title sequence and great music from Francesco De Masi. The jazzy grooves continue over panoramic views of Beirut when it was a luxurious Mediterranean playground of the rich. Exotic street musicians and a poolside vibe give way to the sudden and very clunky murder of young blonde Jane Freeman in the pool. She turns out to daughter of Professor Freeman who has been told his daughter will die unless he gives up his research.
Lang Jeffries as Mike Drum flies in from Athens. It’s been arranged for a copy of last week’s “Die Spiegel” to be waiting for him at the airport newsstand with the location of his rendezvous with British intelligence. But the message has been switched and Drum is soon shooting his way out of an assassination attempt. Following his meeting the British agents at the casino, Drum is constantly assailed by enemy spies. There’s a black femme fatale called Miss Francis in the next room listening in on Drum. As soon as he discovers her, she’s bumped off. Lang tries to protect Professor Freeman but they get him too.
Drum goes to London where another professor, Roland Bergson is under threat. Drum arrives just in time - Bergson is being interviewed by a journalist with an exploding tape recorder and a cyanide pill. It’s discovered the journalist was under the influence of a hypnotic drug. An antidote is quickly found as is a secret message sown into her clothes; “Tuesday 21st Plaza Main Office Madrid” with the passwords; “What’s the fare to go to Leo’s”.
Foolhardy Drum keeps the appointment and ends up being gassed and put on a plane back to Beirut. He is taken to the underground lair of Dr. Raschid (Andrea Bosic) where minions are filled with a hallucinogenic mind control drug. The plan; dominate the will of millions with the drug. Aided by Pamela Kohler (Erica Blanc), Raschid gets Drum ready for injection.
One of the best bits of “Le Spie Uccidono in Silenzio” is Lang Jeffries under the influence of Raschid’s drug. He is turned into a proto terminator with shades and heads off to wreak havoc. Good job there is an antidote.
Jeffries is always good to watch as is Erica Blanc. Note the heavy pupil dilation of Erica’s eyes when taking heroin. Apparently director Caiano insisted on using noxious eye drops to get the realistic close up. Unfortunately this attention to detail did not extend to all the mise en scene. The editing is sometimes very clunky and the film suffers from some very uneven scenes. That said, the action is plentiful and De Masi’s score is a treat. A silly romp but fun. Enjoy! 6/10
Spie Uccidono a Beriut, Le aka Secret Agent Fireball (Luciano Martino, 1965)
Quintissential Eurospy! The story is quite unmemorable in “Le Spie Uccidono a Beriut” but that is not the point here. Made early on in the Italian spy wave director Luciano Martino is enjoying the motifs of the still fresh reworking of the genre. The pace is fast and fun. There are beautiful ladies (Dominique Boschero & Wandisa Guida), wonderful music from Carlo Savina, passwords and gadgets abound. Such spy motifs that were to become hackneyed with over-use feel fresh here. Being 1965, Martino also draws on the legacy of older spy films. The rain-coated spies on street corners recall Clouzot’s “Les Espions” and the entire film is dressed in the grey/blues tones that Hitchcock used in “North by Northwest”.
Richard Harrison is a ubiquitous presence in Eurospy. He seems like a good natured chap who can play rough when needed. He looks good in a suit and can carry off the role of an agent with “unlimited expenses and permission to kill” Whilst no threat to Connery, Harrison is a good workaday spy whose lightweight style fits this piece of confectionary.
The extent to which gadgets are described is another indication of the vintage of “Le Spie Uccidono a Beriut.” The film delights in presenting us with a vast array that takes up a considerable amount of screen time. There is an asprin transmitter, a laser safe opener, a bullet shooting pipe, exploding cigarettes, a tracking device watch and a surveillance detector. Whilst revelling in the covert nature of bespoke espionage equipment, such an extensive inventory reveals the optimism and belief in technological advancement that was at its peak in the late 1950s / early 1960s.
Another memorable aspect of the film is Luciano Pigozzi as a Russian agent. Pigozzi was dubbed the Italian Peter Lorre for his goggle-eyed and seedy appearance. He played dodgy spies in many Eurospy films: “Ypotron”, “Le Carnaval des Barbouzes”, “La Spia che viene dal mare”, “Agente 077 dall'oriente con furore” & “Berlino - Appuntamento per le spie” are just some.
A freewheeling fun film that is underrated. 7/10
Sudario a la medida, Un aka Candidate for a Killing (José María Elorrieta as Sidney Pink, 1969)
This film starts with a montage of a man playing Russian roulette in silhouette. The colour background changes from shot to shot. There is no big music track, just a weird horror film style underscore. Then an anonymous gun does the job for him. Clearly an unconventional film is to follow.
Nick Warfield (John Richardson) is a speed boat racer hitching along the Mediterranean after his speed boat has been smashed up. He is picked up by Jacqueline Monnard (Anita Ekberg) who quickly gets him into a barroom brawl followed by prison. The strange Marcus August (Fernando Rey) pays for his bail, a hotel room and invites him to a party at a villa. It seems Warfield is a splitting image of one André Jarvis, purveyor of mercenaries. Agents from various African states are out to kill Jarvis for re-negging on his deals so Marcus employs Warfield to go about Europe impersonating Jarvis. Bad move.
One’s enjoyment of “Un Sudario a la medida” depends entirely on how you get on with John Richardson central performance. On first glance he seems to be rather wooden. He plays Warfield as a rather un-likeable, belligerent man with a voice like a bored Richard E. Grant. Marcus describes Warfield as “Bellicose” which is exactly how he comes across. In fact this approach fits the bill perfectly as the film gets into its stride. From an excellent confrontational scene with Anita Ekberg on a train to Madrid to the agents closing in at Malaga airport, Richardson has the angst and contempt of a condemned man.
Richardson is supported by top performances. Fernando Rey is reliable as ever as the vicious August. Margaret Lee makes an appearance as the only nice person in the film and Anita Ekberg is excellent as the doomed Jacqueline.
The finale in Gibraltar evokes a seedy Mediterranean atmosphere that compliments the tale of avarice, gold bullion, Interpol agents and betrayal. This is no doubt enhanced by the grubby and grainy 16mm print that is currently available. 8/10
Superseven chiama Cairo aka Superseven Calling Cairo (Umberto Lenzi, 1966)
Superseven aka Martin Stevens is a British Secret Service agent sent to Cairo to try and buy a botonium sample stolen from Dungeness research laboratory. It is“100 times more radioactive than uranium” and is now hidden in an 8mm movie camera. Arriving in a pristine white suit, Superseven is quickly embroiled in espionage. He finds a girl in his shower, sleeps with her and then finds a gun and recorder in her bag. She has recorded their pillow talk, so he forces her to escort him to her “dead letter drop”.
From there, it’s an extended tour of Cairo taking in the bazaars, tourist attractions and coffee shops with fellow agents Yusef (Antonio Gradoli), Tania (Dina De Santis) and recruits Fadja (Rosalba Neri) and Denise (Fabienne Dali). Its belly dances, camel rides and silencer toting men in fezzes.
When he finally catches up with the botonium, Superseven doesn’t have the necessary protective goggles. He collapses from the radiation and is captured. Chief villain Alex (Massimo Serato) has him tied to a metal frame bed and tortures him with electrodes. But Superseven won’t talk. Whilst they are chuckling over pornography, Superseven shoots his captors with a gun - pen and escapes.
The complex web of “Operation Camera” leads to micro-bombs, double crosses, and dirty dealings on the Italian / Swiss border before reaching its climax.
The rapid tour of Europe ends with a night in Paris for Roger Browne and Rosalba Neri. A cable is sent to their plane from the chief – go back to Cairo for next assignment. Superseven has no radioactive damage from the botonium (naturally) and is ready for action.
The first hour of Superseven Chiama Cairo is quite slow moving. The film gets the jump start it needs when Roger Browne faces the electrodes. The last couple of reels in Europe are tighter and more engaging. 5/10
Suspect (John Boulting, Roy Boulting, 1960)
A curious b - picture from the Boulting brothers from a novel by Nigel Balchin. Balchin also wrote the powerful “The Small Back Room” filmed by Powell and Pressburger about bomb disposal experts in WW2. “Suspect” treads a similar psychological path featuring a protagonist tortured by disability. Ian Bannen plays a man with no arms who exacts his revenge on mankind by instigating an espionage leak at a bacterial research laboratory.
The film has a formidable cast including Spike Milligan in a straight (-ish) role, Tony Britton, Virginia Maskell, Kenneth Griffith, Donald Pleasance and Peter Cushing. Whilst it is a pleasure to watch these actors at work, their characters seem absurdly naive walking into Bannen’s scheme with their eyes closed. Britton casually agreeing to give his secrets to Donald Pleasance and the bogus “International scientific exchange” over a pint just does not ring true.
It is Bannen’s turn as the twisted protagonist that gives the film a little edge. His maniacal sweating fury is well pitched and quite convincing. His character’s predicament is unusual enough to be engaging. Worth a look but nothing special. 4/10