The Big Blackout/Agent Perry Grant/Perry Grant Agente Di Fermo (1966)

Agent Perry Grant (1966)‘One day soon I’ll be dealing with the world’s most important rulers – and they’ll accept my decisions!’

An American agent investigates the possible connections between a counterfeit gang, a fashion house in Rome and the persistent leaking of state secrets. His first point of contact is a beautiful brunette who has used some of the dodgy currency to buy a priceless brooch.

Cookie cutter Italian Eurospy finds this week’s ‘Bond on a Budget’ Peter Horton wrestling with guns, girls and gadgets in the glamourous capital cities of the world. Well, New York and Rome at least, New York making a particularly fine showing as a series of cutaway shots of Manhattan skyscrapers. So, just Rome then. Anyways, not to worry! Who needs fine locations when there’s a lot of other things to enjoy. Take all Horton’s gadgets, for instance. Well, someone obviously did as there aren’t any. Well, there is some microfilm hidden in the button of a jacket! Does that qualify? Oh, and he has that gun that never needs reloading but I guess that was standard issue to all secret agents in the 1960s.

Ok, so we’re lacking glamorous locations and gimmicks, but there’s plenty of stunts and action, right? Well, Horton gets involved in fisticuffs from time to time and he does fire his gun a bit (when he’s not getting it knocked out of his hand because he’s holding it too far away from his body). He also puts the moves on heroine Marilù Tolo, who doesn’t fall straight into his arms and his bed, which makes a pleasant change. He also locks lips with bad girl Seyna Seyn but their relationship hits a rocky patch when she tries to kill him. Even better, he gets to groove to the hep sounds of cool combo The Planets, who are real outta sight. Unfortunately, their set does include a drum solo, which would probably work well as an interrogation technique.

This is all (very) mildly diverting stuff and just about gets a pass but what doesn’t is the rest of the film, which is seriously underwritten. Our secret super villain is completely colourless, and his world domination strategy consists of making money (literally) and a gizmo that kills all the electrical power in New York, hence the film’s US title. But don’t get too excited, we don’t see much of that (hey, it’s too dark!) and the device is just a hand-held box with a couple of knobs on it. Still, the villain does have an underground lair and there is a fiery climax, although less kinder commentators than myself might point out the fact that it’s just a few flames in a couple of caves. In fact, the film mostly comprises of a  series of dull fight sequences, punctuated by Horton tracking down clues by the exciting method of talking to a lot of people in rooms.

Agent Perry Grant (1966)

In his spare time, Perry designed table lamps…

Curiously enough, Horton has only one other acting credit; a supporting role as a sheriff in the snappily-titled spaghetti western ‘Guifo E Li Uccise Ad Uno Ad Uno…Pilik ll Timido’ (1968). Given the common practice of anglicising the names of lead actors to sell European films to U.S. distributors, it’s quite possible that he has a more extensive filmography under another name. Tolo, on the other hand, has quite a few recognised credits, including previous Eurospy experience in ‘Espionage in Lisbon’ (1965).

Director Luigi Capuano (here credited as Lewis King) had a long career in the domestic Italian film industry. He mostly worked in Westerns, along with some costumes pictures in the Peplum genre. Later projects often involved imported American stars, so there is always the possibility that Horton was one of them. However, he’s certainly not as big a name as ex-Tarzan’s Gordon Scott and Lex Barker or Hollywood cowboy Guy Madison. Rather bizarrely, Capuano also seems to have made a musical starring Marc Lawrence, an actor who played in many a Film Noir in the 1940s and 1950s as small-time hoods and gunsels.

A lot of Eurospy pictures may be forgettable, production line entertainment, but there’s usually something that’s at least vaguely memorable about them. Not so here.

Perry Grant did not return for further adventures. At least I hope not.

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