‘Radar section, call agent 087 via satellite, gamma 14 frequency.’
An-ex secret agent working in Hong Kong is reactivated to take on a highly secret mission. A mysterious criminal organisation has perfected a missile that can’t be intercepted and have threatened to launch it at a major city unless their demands are met. Nothing is known about them and time is running out…
Tame and anonymous Spanish-Italian Eurospy antics from writer/director Guido Malatesta, billed here as James Reed. This week’s ‘Bond On A Budget’ is American actor Arthur Hansel, running all over the world courtesy of old library stock footage and tangling with the usual tepid mixture of guns, girls and gadgets. As per usual in low-budget projects like this, there’s far more of the first two elements than the last, although Hansel does get a wristwatch that contains radar, a deadly ski-pole and cufflinks that secrete acid (convenient when you’re strapped to a missile!)
Ex-covert operative Larry Fitzgerald (Hansel) is working as a translator in Hong Kong when old boss Chief-Z (George Rigaud) gives him a new mission. Atomic scientists have been going missing (as atomic scientists often do) and a mysterious organisation is blackmailing world governments with a brand-new missile. One of the missing boffins is the brains behind the new weapon, working on the instructions of seemingly harmless international playboy Mr Axel (Eduardo Fajardo). Hansel gets on to him pretty quickly through a clue which is just lying around but has somehow eluded everyone else, and eventually teams up with the bad guy’s Girl Friday, Dorine (Pamela Tudor) to take him down.
This is one of the most faithful copies of the Bond template. Hansel does so much womanising it’s hard to believe that he has the energy for anything else, and he even drinks martinis! He’s handy hand to hand combat too, easily dealing with Fajaro’s minions who favour the time-honoured tradition of attacking him one at a time. One fight scene is speeded up so much that it actually looks as if the ﬁlm has gone wrong!
Sadly, there’s little else of interest in the final film. Dull incident follows dull incident with little to stick in the memory a few minutes later. There are a couple of moments worth noting, however, if perhaps not for the right reasons. Hansel’s stopover in Hawaii is brilliantly conveyed by having the actor and a female member of the cast sit on some sand in front of a rear projection showing stock footage of a beach. A professional bad guy who tosses our hero’s hotel room manages to miss a false bottom that conceals a two-way radio (with aerials) which is as big as the suitcase it’s hidden inside. Also when he gets captured later on, the bad guys fail to notice the bomb he has hidden in a cigarette packet! Like many a supervillain has learnt to his cost: you just can’t get the staff.
Writer-director Malatesta also delivered some peplum films that featured the character of legendary strongman Maciste that were not even prominent enough to be released in America under the ‘Hercules’ banner. Another project was ‘Poppea’s Hot Nights’ (1969), starring husband and wife team Brad Harris and Olga Schoberová. She was better known as Olinka Berova and she was great in Czech science-fiction comedy ‘Who Wants to Kill Jessie?’ (1966) but not so good in the title role of Hammer’s dreary ‘The Vengeance of She’ (1967).
This was Hansel’s first starring role after a bit in ‘Cast A Giant Shadow’ (1966) with Kirk Douglas, and he later played the hero in Juan Lopez Moctezuma’s striking ‘Dr Tarr’s Torture Dungeon’ (1973) and appeared in ‘Mary Mary Bloody Mary’ (1975) which featured John Carradine. Tudor was promoted from one of the supporting arm-candy roles in previous Eurospy bore ‘Man On The Spying Trapeze’ (1966). Two such credits proved an impossible hurdle to overcome and she stepped out of the limelight in 1971, although she later did an uncredited bit in Bud Spencer action comedy a few years later.
Not quite the bottom of the Eurospy barrel, but pretty close.