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notes on eurospy


slaytonf
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This was prompted by TCM's airing of The Ipcress File.

 

There is no genre responsible for the creation of a greater number of wretched, unwatchable movies than eurospy--except maybe horror.  The spectacular success of the Bond movies inspired, as in all human endeavors, floods of imitators, rip-offs, and outright plagiarists, ravening after the money to be made.  The big studios (the biggest raveners of all), came out with products like the Matt Helm series (gag), and the Flint movies (not so bad, due to James Coburn's matter-of-fact magnificence).  Even the producers of the Bond series weren't above ripping themselves off--something to be grateful for, as it resulted in the Harry Palmer movies.  By far the greatest number of Bond allomorphs were made in Europe, many even featuring James Bond, 007, himself--at first, that is, until Messrs. Broccoli and Saltzman advised the makers of the perilousness of their course.  Following the practice of opportunists around the world, they then cranked out dozens of 008s, 077s, 707s--wait, that last one is a plane.  A lot of them are on YouTube, but don't waste your time on them.  Each one is worse than the other.  But, even if they had a script with even the smallest semblance of coherence--which they didn't, or a director who could put two shots together--which they didn't, they still would lack the one element responsible for the triumph of the Bond movies, and their existence:  Sean Connery, whose raw physicality had the power to infuse the series with enough mojo for it last decades after he left it, and make it the most successful of all time.

 

It wasn't a total loss, though.  Some fun, and even good movies came out of the environment.  Ipcress being one of the best.  Other big studio productions include The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, with Richard Burton wallowing in nihilism and self-loathing.  There's The Quiller Memorandum, another counter-establishment themed thriller with loads of disillusionment, and cynicism, George Segal, Senta Berger, Alec Guiness, Max Von Sydow, and Robert Helpmann.  Tony Randall also had his turn in Our Man in Marakesh.  He seems an unlikely action hero, but, what do you know?, it works.  Also with Senta Berger, and Herbert Lom.  I think he gets the girl.

 

There are also a pair of movies with Hugh Drummond battling nefarious villains and their plans for world dominance, Deadlier than the Male, and the sequel, Some Girls Do.  Elke Sommer and Sylvia Koscina co-star in Deadlier, as a  pair of sociopathic killers, lots of fun.  Dallah Lavi is the lone -path in Some Girls Do.  Richard Johnson as Drummond seems an unlikely super suave spy, but he pulls it off.  And the movies are exceptional in featuring powerful women.  Naturally, they are agents of evil.

 

Johnson also starred in Danger Route, another counter- movie with a cynical cast to it.  He's joined by Gordon Jackson (Hudson in Upstairs, Downstairs), Carol Lynley, Barbara Bouchet, and Diana Dors (!).  It's worthwhile, despite some difficult contrivances in the plot, including an improbable, and improbably choreographed final battle on and in a sailboat.

 

The best of the lot is Modesty Blaise, starring Monica Viti, as the popular comic book heroine brought to live action.  She's joined by Dirk Bogard, thoroughly enjoying the role of the demented super-villan.  I don't remember the plot well.  Somebody, the bad guy, is trying to get something, or someone, and the good guys are trying to keep it from him, and people get taken captive, and escape, or are rescued, and it all doesn't matter much, except it's an excuse for action and intrigue and tight leather one-piece suits a la Diana Rigg.

 

Watch 'em if you can find 'em.

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slayton, it's been many years since I've watched the Rod Taylor starring British spy film THE LIQUIDATOR (1965), but I do remember thinking at the time that this somewhat comedic story of a reluctant spy was better than I thought it would be.

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slayton, it's been many years since I've watched the Rod Taylor starring British spy film THE LIQUIDATOR (1965), but I do remember thinking at the time that this somewhat comedic story of a reluctant spy was better than I thought it would be.

 

That's one I never heard of.  I'll keep my eye out for it.  Hey, it's looking like a list for a mini festival.

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  • 2 years later...

Boy, I love Europsy movies, especially if you include some modern movies. The Jason Bourne movies? Ronin? The Gary Oldman version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? Even the just-released Red Sparrow. If its' a Eurospy movie, I'll go see it! I think you're very wrongly slandering a really strong subgenre! There are SO many subgenres that have made plenty more wretched, unwatchable films! Are you saying the Eurospy genre is worse than the torture-porn/Saw genre? Or the super-loud soundtrack/jump-scare genre? Or the Steven Seagal genre? Or the movie based on a videogame genre? Or the teen vampire genre? Or, or ...

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If you read my OP, you will see I said horror is perhaps the genre which outdid eurospy for wretchedness.  But, if you like 'em, I'm not gonna be stoppin you from watchin 'em.  Let me recommend Hammerhead (1968), Requiem for a Secret Agent (1966), Kiss Kiss Kill Kill (1966), The Fuller Report (1967), and Tiffany Memorandum (1967), if you're not already familiar with 'em.  But I wouldn't eat anything before watching them.

One good one I forgot is one shown by TCM occasionally.  It's Dandy in Aspic (1968), with Lawrence Harvey, Tom Courtenay, and Mia Farrow, directed by Anthony Mann.  It's about. . . . it's about. . .well, it's complicated.  But it's all well done, with ambivalence, disillusionment, twists, re-twists, and surprises up to the very end.  

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Actually, eurospy is one of my favorite genres in films. I liked most of the films you names but, Modesty Blaise was unwatchable for me. I like the tongue in cheek 60's versions as well as the more modern , serious ones.

That's why I like these boards. There's always a variety of opinions here. Whatever you name, someone will pop out of the woodwork and claim they love it ! :P

 

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in modesty blaise there is this bikini-clad amazon who throttles mimes with her legs and throws the broken remains off a cliff...

another fun film not mentioned is Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die with mike connors.

I love that hot chi-comm chick.

 

 

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On 8/7/2015 at 2:32 AM, slaytonf said:

The big studios (the biggest raveners of all), came out with products like the Matt Helm series (gag),

I had to chuckle as I recalled your comments when reading this today:

"Tom Shepherd has been hired to pen “Matt Helm,” a film adaptation of Don Hamilton’s prolific spy novel series in the works at Paramount Pictures.

Bradley Cooper is attached to star as Helm, a U.S. special agent/assassin during World War II who left the life to raise a family in Santa Fe but is forced to return to his former life.

There have been twenty-seven published Helm novels, four of which were adapted to the screen in the 1960s and starred Dean Martin, although those were satirical takes on the material as opposed to straight adaptations.

George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are attached as executive producers on this new take with Steven Spielberg also involved in some capacity."

shepherd-to-pen-cooper-led-matt-helm-696

http://www.darkhorizons.com/shepherd-to-pen-cooper-led-matt-helm/

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7 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I had to chuckle as I recalled your comments when reading this today:

"Tom Shepherd has been hired to pen “Matt Helm,” a film adaptation of Don Hamilton’s prolific spy novel series in the works at Paramount Pictures.

Bradley Cooper is attached to star as Helm, a U.S. special agent/assassin during World War II who left the life to raise a family in Santa Fe but is forced to return to his former life.

There have been twenty-seven published Helm novels, four of which were adapted to the screen in the 1960s and starred Dean Martin, although those were satirical takes on the material as opposed to straight adaptations.

George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are attached as executive producers on this new take with Steven Spielberg also involved in some capacity."

 

http://www.darkhorizons.com/shepherd-to-pen-cooper-led-matt-helm/

So now they're going to do something even worse than before, take it seriously.

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There are always those who will take the not meant to be taken seriously WAY to serious, and thankfully, those who don't believe in ANY cows too sacred to poke fun at.

But both, I believe, should be given equal consideration and be offered material suitable to their beliefs and tastes. 

In days gone by, I recall there were some who would come up with those imaginary contests/comparisons..... like, "Who do ya think would win in a fight......JAMES BOND, or DEREK FLINT?" .  A variation of the "Ginger or Mary Ann?" nonsense.  And of course, some guy would throw MATT HELM into the fray. ;) 

Sepiatone

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12 hours ago, slaytonf said:

So now they're going to do something even worse than before, take it seriously.

schtootzes kurtzman & orci helped ruin and destroy star trek...so lettem to the same to matt helm.

could they really do any worse than those horrible irving allen flicks?

:lol:

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9 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

schtootzes kurtzman & orci helped ruin and destroy star trek...so lettem to the same to matt helm.

could they really do any worse than those horrible irving allen flicks?

:lol:

Never underestimate the power of Hollywood to make something bad even worse.

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