Saturday 6 June 2020


Dante's Inferno (1935 - b/w) - Routine Spencer Tracy vehicle from Sol M. Wurtzel.

Girls' Dormitory (1936 - b/w)/Banjo on my Knee (1936  b/w) - Routine Fox pap.
Three Blind Mice (1938 - b/w) - Ditto.

Here I Am A Stranger (1939 - b/w) - Richard Greene bonds with father Richard Dix.

Day-time Wife (1939 - b/w) - Linda Darnell age 16 plays a married woman opposite Tyrone Power. Eww.

OSS 117 Is Not Dead (1956 - b/w) - Bland, shonky pre-Bond installment for France's greatest spy (although the character is supposed to be a Louisiana Cajun, hence French blood)
OSS 117 (1963 - b/w) is a glossy but disinteresting post-Dr. No coastal actioner with Kerwin Matthews replacing Ivan Desny.
Banco á Bangkok pour OSS 117 (1964) is more fun. It has a fab villain in  a caped, shadow-cloaked Robert Hossein trapping Kerwin Matthews and Pier Angeli in a lab full of rats dropped from dispensers. Side characters are called Lemmon and Karloff. .
OSS 117 Mission for A Killer (1965)  and OSS 117 - Terror in Tokyo (1966) are lush but empty adventures with yellowface and travelogue sights, but Frederick Stafford is well, he wasn't even an actor.
OSS 117 Takes A Vacation (1970), the last of the original series is a bland, nothingy, ultra-cheap actioner without any merit with Luc Merenda as a younger, sexier Hubert.

The Mask of the Gorilla (1958 - b/w) - Routine Lino Ventura vehicle.

Victim (1961 - b/w) - Dirk's gay and worries about himself. So, true to life.
Hot Enough for June (1964) - Dirk does Bond. It's not much of a parody because Bond had just been two films at this point. It's a bit of a Third Man parody. It's typical early 60s Rank comedy, but Leo McKern is fun and Roger Delgado has a nice part as the communist hotel manager. But Prague is clearly Italy. But there's no real villain. It's just a runabout. Are McKern and Robert Morley's characters supposed to be lovers? They walk off into the sunset, holding hands at the end.

The Devil's Agent (1962) - Dreary Irish-shot Cold War krimi with Peter Van Eyck, MacDonald Carey, Christopher Lee, Marianne Koch "and Marius Goring". The one giveaway it is shot here, aside from the amount of men in flat caps is John "Tom Riordan" Cowley skulking about mysteriously. Also, Peadar Lamb pops up, a man who always wears a flat cap even when voicing cartoon characters.

Master Spy (1963 - b/w) - Ropey quota quickie with Stephen Murray as a Russian.

Le tigre aime su chair fraiche (1964 - b/w)/Le tigre su parfume a la dynamite (1965) - Dreary Claude Chabrol spy capers.

Monsieur (1964 - b/w) - Routine spy drama, light touch with Jean Gabin and Philippe Noiret.

Coplan Agent Secret FX 18 (1964) - Dreary first installment in a Eurospy franchise, with Ken Clark.

Secret Agent Fireball (1965) - Forgettable though pleasantly produced but uninvolving Eurospy with Richard Harrison..

Pleins Feux sur Stanislas (1965) - Rote Jean Marais suspenser.

Slalom (1965) - Skiing and Egypt collide in a plush but generic Italian spy movie with Vittorio Gassman and the inevitable Adolfo Celi.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (1965) - This may be the ultimate Eurospy film, but it shows the flaws with Italian exploitation. It's a weird combination in that in its execution, it has a ton of wonderfully barmy ideas, from a parrot agent to an aquacar, to a ridiculous roller-skating gender-bending yellowfaced villain with a receding hairline and an open air living room on the deck of a ship, but performances, dubbing, cinematography and sets all have a distinct shonkiness. Duccio Tessari, a director who despite a long, prolific and relatively prestigious career has never had a particularly fervent reputation, doesn't try to do anything. And the cast isn't particularly distinguished. Italian star Giuiliano Gemma, the ubiquitous George Rigaud (who seemingly appeared in every European horror of the era) standing out. And despite a rattling of ideas, it has some enthusiasm but falls back on ultimately very silly though innately childlike and somewhat innocent slapstick. It doesn't have that Bond joy. By the end, it literally becomes a custard pie fight complete with chef. And despite an array of shooting locations in England, Spain, Italy and Switzerland, it feels cheap, even compared to something like Operation Kid Brother or Special Mission Lady Chaplin. Giuliano Gemma is a typical Italian action hero, in that he does what he has to, but he's not an actor so much as a fotonovel model. Still, at least it isn't as idiotically mod as some of the other, plusher imitations. And it does try hard to be British, with fake BBC radio bulletins and a copy of the Daily Sketch.

The Great Spy Chase (1965 - b/w) - Dreary cold war comedy with Lino Ventura.

Our Man Jaguar (1965) - Stagnant though initially impressive looking (the opening set is particularly impressive) Eurospy with the block of wood that is Ray Danton.

Agent 3S3 Passport to Hell (1965) - Routine Italian spy nonsense with George Ardisson and Fernando Sancho, from Sergio Sollima. The sequel, Massacre in the Sun (1966) is grim and cheaper.

Balearic Caper (1966) - Grim package holiday spy movie with Harold Sakata.

Goldsnake (1966) - Plain, unimaginative, unglamorous Orient-set Eurospy with Yoko Tani.

Rififi in Amsterdam (1966) - Bond-infused heist boredom with Roger Browne.

The Saint Lies in Wait (1966) - Dodgy, goofy, psychedelic Saint with Jean Marais, and an inaccurate looking English Post Office.

Death Curse of Tartu (1966) - Silly, throwaway William Grefe everglades runaround.

To Skin A Spy (1966) - Watchable but unmemorable French spy yarn with Lino Ventura.

Electra One (1967) - Dodgy, sunny but unendearing Eurospy with George Martin.

Escape from Taiga (1967) - Grim Soviet-set POW-tinged thriller with Thomas Hunter.

Tom Dollar (1967) - Lush but idiotic fotonovel adap starring Maurice Poli. Some bits stick, i.e. the creepy pierrot-masked baddies, but a lot of it is average espionage thick-ear.

The Last Chance (1967) - Forgettable, badly-made Eurospy with Tab Hunter and Michael Rennie.

"HYPNOS - FOLLIA DI UN MASSACRO" (1967) - Routine Spanish yarn with European news clips on TV, and Fernando Sancho being sweaty.

Top Secret (1967) - Routine spy schlock, in a rudimentary fashion, with Gordon Scott.

The Magnificent Tony Carrera (1967) - Nice locations in Amsterdam fail to enliven a stodgy Bond knockoff with Thomas Hunter allegedly a replacement for Roger Moore.

Arrriva Dorellik (1968) - Terry-Thomas has  a larger role here than in Danger Diabolik. This is the mentally challenged parody, with pop star Johnny Dorrelli in a ludicrous caped outfit and much blackface and old lady drag in lieu of laughs. However, it's really a remake of Kind Hearts and Coronets with a Diabolik parody as Dennis Price. Like Special Mission Lady Chaplin and McCloud and I think Midnight Lace, buses advertising Pearl assurance feature in the London segments.

Night After Night After Night (1969) - Sleazy, unlikeable British thriller with Jack May in drag. Donald Sumpter gives good nostrils.

The Blood Rose (1969) - Rough French horror.

What's Good for the Goose (1969) - Norman Wisdom tries to be young again, and goes off with Sally Geeson. Menahem Golan brings the same feel he later brought to Eskimo Limon.

Only the Cool (1970) - Laboured Eurospy full of Nescafe and taxidermy with Klaus Kinski, Stephane Audran and Lilli Palmer.

Which Way to the Front (1970) - Jerry Lewis wartime goofiness.

Permissive (1970) - A perfect time capsule of the 70s, from Lindsay Shonteff. Mmm, 70s Cadbury bars.

A Bequest to the Nation (1972) - Despite all the fuss over Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch as Lady Hamilton and Nelson and their characters' affair, the actual lead is weedy Dominic Guard.

La Bonne Annee (1973) - Lino Ventura crime story where Lino Ventura wears essentially a mask of his own face. Too grim for its own good.

Le Magnifique (1973) - Thought I'd seen this Jean Paul Belmondo/Jacqueline Bisset spy movie, but I hadn't. Because the opening is utterly demented, and if I had seen it, I would have remembered how brilliant it is. The opening of this film has a man in a telephone box in Acapulco. The telephone box is  lifted up by a magnet hung from a helicopter in a sort of melding of You Only Live Twice and La Cabina, and then lifted over the coast, into the sea and dumped into the ocean.  There, the phone box with yer man inside is surrounded by creepy divers with a shark in a cage.  The cage is moved about by these sinister divers, and attached to the phone box, created a sort of extension allowing the shark to move about without harming the divers. Thus allowing the man to be eaten by the shark. The rest is very much a redo of Our Man from Rio.

Malachi's Cove (1973) - Pleasant enough, almost Children's Film Foundation-esque saga with Donald Pleasence

The Slap (1974) - Lino Ventura has to cope with Snoopy-loving teenage daughter Isabelle Adjani running off to England to be with her boyfriend whose dad is only Robert Hardy (in his second Lino Ventura film).

The Girl in Room 2A (1974) - Sleazy Italian thriller.

The Cage (1975) - Memorably grim story of Ingrid Thulin imprisoning Lino Ventura.

Adieu Poulet (1975) - Standard French crime drama with Patrick Dewaere and Lino Ventura.

Tunnel Vision (1975) - Watching this, I thought "hey, is that Joe Flaherty?" Well, yes, it is. And John Candy too. But it wastes them.

Mr. Klein (1976) - Interesting but rather dull Delon-Losey teamup. I don't get Losey.

Black Samurai (1977) - Jim Kelly is dubbed in this awkward, sub-Lindsay Shonteff blaxploitation-martial-artist-spy nonsense from Al Adamson.

Sudden Death (1977) - Robert Conrad Filipino thick-ear.

Un papillon sur l'épaule (1978) - Girm, unlikeable Lino Ventura mental illness drama.

Hussy (1980)- Helen Mirren thinks she's Joan Collins, with Liz McDonald hair. Has a copy of short lived 2000 AD rival Bullet.

Dangerous Encounters of the First Kind (1980) - Well-choreographed Hong Kong action, from Tsui Hark.

Frozen Scream (1981) - Ropey horror shite from Renee Harmon.

Shut Up When You Speak (1981) - Aldo Maccione and Edwige Fenech in a goofy Italian-French sexcomedy about a geek who thinks he's Bond, and watches Antenne 2, and does drag.

La 7ème cible (1984) - Grim Lino Ventura film,despite a cameo from a French kids' TV ventriloquist.

Trip to Bangkok, Coffin Included (1986) - Feels more like 1966, the soundtrack especially. This is a Jess Franco spy movie about Howard Vernon with a moving moustache as Mengele, based on an Edgar Wallace novel or not as the case maybe, shot in Thailand. Utterly baffling.

Bloody New Year (1987) - Shonky Barry Island-shot time warp hotel nonsense from Norman J Warren, set in an 80s idea of the 50s. Suzy Aitchison, daughter of June Whitfield does an accurate impersonation of her mother when her character becomes a zombified 50s holiday camp hostess.

Secret Agent 00 Soul  (1990) - Goofy, low-budget yet watchable Bond parody with Billy Dee Williams, clearly inspired by I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Williams has dignity. Has stock footage of London, and an office with a union flag. It descends into a horror comedy with Sherlock Holmes outfits and mummies and Tiny Lister and drag.

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