Thursday, May 19, 2011


This week I caught up with the 1967 British produced Euro-Spy film mostly know under the title DEADLIER THAN THE MALE and found it to be an incredibly enjoyable experience. Fast paced, gorgeously photographed, well cast and sporting a pretty clever script it is 90 minutes of very entertaining Jet Age nonsense. I was curious mainly because of my interest in the Spy sub-genre of course but I have to admit that a major draw was the presence of Elke Sommer and Silvia Koscina as a pair of often bikini clad assassins working for a shadowy criminal mastermind. They are great in their roles with Elke getting the most screen time and really making the best of it. I read a review of another film recently with someone criticizing her acting skills as being sub-par. Maybe in the grand scheme of things she isn’t a fantastic thespian but in this movie she shines brightly. Vicious to the point of being bloodthirsty, coldly calculating with business clients and sexy as Hell the entire time Miss Sommer is a joy to behold. Miss Koscina seems less confident here than in other movies in which I’ve seen her. She is good as the kleptomaniac of the deadly duo but I began to wonder if acting completely in English was something she had to become comfortable with as the shooting went on. To be sure, by the time she has a guy tied down to a table and is torturing the poor bastard for information she was hitting every mark perfectly but her first few scenes were a little rocky.

The star of the picture is Richard Johnson who I’ve become a huge fan of over the years. I think I first saw him in the classic ghost tale THE HAUNTING but when I think of him I usually remember his world weary turn in Fulci’s ZOMBIE before anything else. A damned good actor he seems to have known that this picture was a fun sub-Bond adventure and played it as such. The biggest surprise was learning that in this film he plays ‘Bulldog’ Dummond! I’ve been slowly getting my hands on several of the early films featuring this character from the 1930s but was completely unaware that this was one of his later cinematic appearances. It was almost like finding an extra cookie in the jar! And apparently there was a sequel to this film too. I’m going to have to track it down.

If you’re a fan of the Euro-Spy genre or if you’re thinking of finally venturing past the 1960s Bond films for more of that groovy espionage glow this might be the place to start. I might like some of the wilder Italian made movies better but this could act as the gateway drug for neophytes. Hell! I’ve been digging into the genre for years and this film has got me aching for more right now!

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