Hammerhead (1968)

Hammerhead (1968)Nothing ever hit you like ‘Hammerhead’.

U.S. Special Agent Charles Hood goes undercover to sell a valuable art collection to shady international businessman, Hammerhead, who has long been suspected by the British authorities of being a real bad egg. Their fears are confirmed when Hammerhead plots to steal secrets from a NATO conference. Can Hood stop him in time?

1960s British espionage flick that’s neither serious enough for John Le Carre, nor wild enough for James Bond. We’re think we’re in for a pretty swinging time when things kick off with Hood (Vince Edwards) making a rendezvous with a white-haired hippie at a performance art theatre show. There’s lots of semi-naked babes, shop window dummies having their heads blown off and a raid by police (including British sitcom stalwart Windsor Davies in an early role). But, even after Edwards links up with kooky, ’60’s It Girl Judy Geeson, the film settles into rather a mundane groove from which it never escapes.

There’s plenty of other familiar British faces from the time. Edwards’s boss is Patrick Cargill (once a very chilling No.2 on ‘The Prisoner’) and Diana Dors crops up as club owner, Miss Kittty. Elsewhere there’s Peter Vaughn as Hammerhead, showing a nice line in snide remarks and sadism, assisted by silent henchman Dave Prowse. There’s another wordless cameo in the form of Kenneth Cope, shortly to become a TV star as the ghost on the excellent ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).’ There’s also a small bit for the wonderful Kathleen Byron, two decades after she was smoking up the screen for Powell and Pressburger in ‘Black Narcissus’ (1946). She is woefully underused, though.

Hammerhead (1968)

Follow that cab!

There was obviously a decent budget here, and the results are acceptable, but, crucially, not very memorable. The script was based on a novel by John Mayo, so it’s probable that the producers were looking at a rival to the Bond franchise, but the lack of any real edge put paid to anything like that. The film just plays it too safe; a fact confirmed by the casting of Edwards, who was best known as TV star ‘Ben Casey.’

The only real bright sparks are the performances of Vaughan and Geeson, who had a lively and interesting career. Sadly, it was pretty much put to rest when she was attacked by gory glove puppets in lnseminoid’ (1981), a tragic and tasteless ‘Alien’ (1979) wannabe.

Hood did not return for any further adventures. I don’t think anyone noticed.

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