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David Guercio

Secret Agent/Spy Films

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Hey.  How’s it going everybody?  I hope you all really enjoyed TCM’s 25th Anniversary celebration last night.  I sure did.  It was so much fun.  Anybody know of any other Secret Agent/Spy films besides Bond and Austin Powers?  Dean Martin’s Matt Helm counts doesn’t it and what else is there?  Also.  Let me know if I got Dean Martin’s Matt Helm right.

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In the spoofy vein, there's the Derek Flint movies, Our Man Flint (1966), and In Like Flint (1967).  They are silly, and outdatedly sexist, but James Coburn plays the expert-at-everything, master-of-all-situations Flint so coolly, so self-composedly, that they end up being a lot of fun to watch.

In the more serious vein, there are the Harry Palmer movies, The Ipcress File (1965), Funeral in Berlin (1966), and Billion Dollar Brain (1967).  They are a serious response to the Bond-mainia of the time, with some really good anti-establishment themes running through the storylines.  Except the last one goes over the top.  Not a big surprise, as it was directed by Ken Russell.  A one-off with George Segal, The Quiller Memorandum (1966) is also good.

In the super-serious vein, you have something like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1966), starring Richard Burton and Claire Bloom.  Based on a John le Carré novel, it's as much a downer as you get in spy stuff.  

Then there's the Eurospy genre.  These were mostly shameless trashy rip-offs of the Bond movies, designed to capitalize on the frenzy generated by Sean Connery's on-screen machismo.  They were made in all different countries, Italy, France, Germany, Britain, and are mostly not worth wasting the time it takes to watch the credits.  There are some exceptions, including Some Girls Do (1969), Deadlier Than the Male (1967), and Danger Route (1967).

A couple of TV series, both with Alec Guiness, and both from John le Carré, are also good:  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979), and Smiley's People (1982).

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Our Man in Havana (1959)with Alec Guinness sort of a quasi serious film. 

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THE SAINT film series involves espionage, and too, OSS117 series of films beginning in the '50's (I think), 

Then too, there's THE FALCON films, MR. MOTO , and probably others that escape me now.

Sepiatone

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5 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

THE SAINT film series involves espionage, and too, OSS117 series of films beginning in the '50's (I think), 

Then too, there's THE FALCON films, MR. MOTO , and probably others that escape me now.

Sepiatone

As a big fan of both The Saint and The Falcon movies, I don't think they would be considered as spy films.  Both were pretty much mystery/detective movies.  A couple of the movies may have somewhat involved espionage, but primarily from the mystery/detective viewpoint. 

Now, The Saint TV series with Roger Moore was a spy series, as I recall.

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I agree that THE IPCRESS FILE and other Palmer movies were good. However, next to Sean Connery's Bond movies I really like the Matt Damon/Jason Bourne movies. I wish they would do one more before Damon ages out. Technically, Bourne is not a spy. He's an assassin, but he is (or was) in the CIA.

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THE DAY OF THE JACKAL (1973) changes the balance by putting the viewer on the side of the bad guy. Excellent thriller - should be screened more frequently.

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On 4/15/2019 at 7:32 PM, David Guercio said:

Hey.  How’s it going everybody? 

(Peanut gallery: )  "HIIIII, David!  :) "

325px-Howdy_Doody_peanut_gallery_circa_1

On 4/15/2019 at 9:12 PM, slaytonf said:

In the more serious vein, there are the Harry Palmer movies, The Ipcress File (1965), Funeral in Berlin (1966), and Billion Dollar Brain (1967).  They are a serious response to the Bond-mainia of the time, with some really good anti-establishment themes running through the storylines.  Except the last one goes over the top.  Not a big surprise, as it was directed by Ken Russell.  

A couple of TV series, both with Alec Guiness, and both from John le Carré, are also good:  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979), and Smiley's People (1982).

Er, yeah:  B$B was very much directed by Ken Russell.  Ipcress gets a little too stylized, which is why I always found Funeral in Berlin the best "straightforward" Harry Palmer, for those who want their dose of snarky 60's-Michael-Caine-voice, although I'll have to watch it again to remember the plot.

John le Carre' turned producer and got most of his own recent pseudo-spy novels onscreen.  Probably best with Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer (and a scene-stealing Ken Russell) in The Russia House (1990)--which you now can't throw a rock in any MGM Streaming Orphans direction without hitting--and Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush turning in a shaggy Spy-who-cried-wolf story in The Tailor of Panama (2001)

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This is one genre that dear to me. I'll watch just about anything involving spies. Even the dreadful ones.

15 hours ago, Brrrcold said:

THE DAY OF THE JACKAL (1973) changes the balance by putting the viewer on the side of the bad guy. Excellent thriller - should be screened more frequently.

I like this one for the simple fact its straight forward. Most of what happens actually could happen. No crazy explosions, car chases or being shot one hundred times and never being hit. I love it.

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I like The Mission Impossible films starring Tom Cruise. They have great action sequences, clever plot twists, and rely alot on old school espionage techniques. The latest one was Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018).

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12 hours ago, cinemaspeak59 said:

I like The Mission Impossible films starring Tom Cruise. They have great action sequences, clever plot twists, and rely alot on old school espionage techniques. The latest one was Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018).

Except that it was only the FIRST one that bore any faint passing resemblance to the genius-cool clockwork-team plots of the 60's TV series:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zRtOpW8gOs

Anything after that was just an excuse for Tom Cruise to have fun indulging Scientologist-indestructible X-stunts on Paramount's nickel.

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13 hours ago, cinemaspeak59 said:

I like The Mission Impossible films starring Tom Cruise. They have great action sequences, clever plot twists, and rely alot on old school espionage techniques. The latest one was Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018).

I didn't care for them myself. Mission Impossible is supposed to be about a team working together. Cruise ruined all that.

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On the sillier side, there were two Thunderbirds films in 1968, based on a popular TV series done in "Supermarionation": Thunderbird 6 and Thunderbirds Are Go! They feature the five sons of a former astronaut who act as international "rescue" agents, assisted by British agent Lady Penelope in her flying pink Rolls. Lots of really stupid fun. The more recent Team America: World Police (2004) used roughly the same process with puppets, but with a decidedly more adult point of view.

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Here's one I'd like to see again:  The Naked Runner, approx. 1967, d. Sidney J. Furie, w/ Frank Sinatra. Saw it upon original release, and previous TV versions seemed to be bad transfers , pan/scan, etc.

East Berlin, gloomy overcast, lots of zoom shots, Techniscope. Atmosphere alternately tense and somber, somewhat reminiscent of The Quiller Memorandum.

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If anyone is interested, the Matt Helm books are still being printed.  Hamilton Booksellers carries most of them for about $4.00.  I'm reading one and it is pretty good.  Of course you have to cleanse your mind of Dean Martin and the parodies he made.

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