Assignment Skybolt/Operation Skybolt (1968)

Assignment Skybolt (1968)‘Without my head, I don’t talk so good.’

Special agent Dan Holland gets the case when a hydrogen bomb is stolen from a NATO facility in Turkey. lt would seem his brother his involved, but he was believed to have died in combat during the Greek Civil War. Holland’s investigations take him to the seedy Mermaid Club…

This week’s ‘Bond on a Budget’ is handsome Nicolas Kirk, who gets sent to Athens to try to locate the missing device, principally because he ‘knows the language and the country.’ It’s not all that surprising really, because Kirk – real name Nikos Kourkoulous – was actually born there! Yes, this seems to be Greece’s only flirtation with the Eurospy genre, and it’s directed by native Gregg G Tallas (real name Grigorios Thalassinos). He was back home from the U.S. after delivering ‘ls this supposed to be a comedy?’ classics ‘Siren of Atlantis’ (1949) and ‘Prehistoric Women’ (1950). He’d had previous experience with ‘Bond’ knock-offs too, directing the pedestrian Italian/Spanish ‘Espionage ln Tangiers’ (1965) a few years earlier. Sadly, this effort is probably even less remarkable.

The film opens with an American agent being beaten to death on an old boat. It’s a curious scene as the action is accompanied on the soundtrack by a gentle, Greek folk number; synchronised sound presumably being unavailable. We never see the original theft of the bomb; where it was taken from, or learn anything about the method employed. Kourkoulous gets the job of finding it, and his only clue is the dead operative’s connection with the Mermaid Club. This is a seedy backstreet dive, which is featured so much in the early part of the proceedings that I began to wonder if the production had access to any other sets!

The Club is conveniently staffed by plenty of eye candy for Kourkoulous to wrap his lips around. There’s singer Anna Brazzou, balloon dancer Elena Nathanail and stripper Sonia Zoidou (who is also pretending to be American). Kourkoulous romances all three to some extent or other, of course, enjoying rough sex with Brazzou in her hotel room, a scene which involves him using his belt on her in a way which rings alarm bells these days. Although she does get her own back in similar fashion later on.

Assignment Skybolt (1968)

‘Are you alright, mate?’

What follows is the usual half-hearted brew of (unconvincing) fisticuffs, gunplay and a car chase on a mountain road that ends with the usual empty old wreck being pushed down a slope. For once, it can’t even be bothered to explode. The coming together of the vehicles as the villains try to force Kourkoulous off the road is achieved by shaking the camera violently and playing some grinding noises on the soundtrack. It’s no surprise when we see our hero’s car unmarked in the next scene!

Other highlights include Brazzou singing a couple of rather boring songs, Kourkoulous having his testicles electrified by some random henchmen, and a climax on a pleasure yacht involving a portly Chinese agent. Oh, and Brazzou and Kourkoulous do some traditional Greek dancing, which is nice.

This is a very unremarkable and unambitious project. By the time we reach the denouement, it feels like we’ve been in Mr Kourkoulous’ company for an awfully long time.

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