Sidney J. Furie directs Michael Caine, Nigel Green and Guy Doleman in this espionage thriller where an intelligence heavy must try to figure out who is brainwashing the top scientists of Britain.
One of the greatest movie scores ever by John Barry. Ponderous, ominous and playful. It sets the tone for what was made and marketed as the antithesis of 007. You’d never see Sean Connery in Kwik Save. Caine’s Palmer is a fascinating child of its time. He knows change is coming to every aspect of society but his ‘superiors’ just haven’t caught up yet and have little intention to. Insubordinate but trapped beneath middle management, sexually confident but uncaring, brutish but detached. Is he these things because he has no other options or because it is what he is best at? I love Bond but this is far more psychologically rigorous yet open to fluid interpretation depiction of spycraft. The grind of bureaucracy, the disposability of assets and the continual mistrust. The few bursts of violence happen in the background, almost as if we are trying not to watch them from a passing car or poorly angle phonebox. Scuffles unfit for public consumption rather than Bondian spectacles. It would make a fantastic double bill with Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and I appreciate it more with every rewatch.
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