Target For Killing/Das Geheimnis der gelben Mönche (1966)

Target For Killing (1966)‘Our secret agents in Pakistan and Vietnam communicate regularly by telepathy.’

A veteran special agent is assigned to protect a young girl who has been marked for death by a mysterious criminal organisation who work in secret from a monastery. He soon discovers that their leader is using ESP and a revolutionary brainwashing technique to further his mad ambitions…

Fast-paced Austrian/German/Italian Eurospy that features ex-Hollywood matinee idol Stewart Granger as this week’s rather silver-haired ‘Bond On A Budget.‘ Granger had some previous experience in these kind of shenanigans as the lead of ‘Red Dragon’ (1965) which often gets bundled in with this genre, although it was more of a crime thriller really. In fact, despite a new name, he is supposed to be playing the same character, as his exploits in the previous film are referenced by local Police Commissioner Rupert Davies.

The story opens mid-flight with ‘marked woman’ Karin Dor being chatted up by our handsome hero. He seems to be making progress, but can’t help noticing the flight crew heading for the back of the plane and, a few seconds later, their parachutes deploying below. How they managed to leave without compromising cabin pressure is a bit of a mystery, but we’ll let it pass. Luckily, Granger was a pilot in the war about twenty years earlier, so he’s able to land the plane with only a slight wobble. The control tower doesn’t even need to talk him down! Now, I hate to burst anyone’s bubble here, but all someone without specific training will achieve in those circumstances is to pile up on the runway (if they’re lucky enough to make it that far). Yes, I know screen personalities as diverse as Doris Day in ‘Julie’ (1955), Karen Black in ‘Airport ’75’ (1974), David McCallum as TV’s ‘The Invisible Man’ and Lou Ferrigno as ‘The Incredible Hulk’ have all accomplished the feat without breaking too much of a sweat, but it’s simply not possible. You may as well expect to manage re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere after attending an open day at Cape Canaveral.

So some serious suspension of disbelief is essential here, and the script often does little to help the audience in that regard. There some silly business about Granger being scared of Davies’ pet snake (which he keeps in his office!) and super villain Curt Jurgens has a stable of scantily-clad babes draped all over the furniture at his HQ just because he likes the way they look. Associate Dr Yang (Luis Induni) can read people’s thoughts and turn them into mindless zombies. Although they do have to receive electric shocks and stare into an aquarium at the same time! There’s also a scene where Jurgens’ chief Lieutenant Scilla Gabel shoots off multiple rounds with her machine gun, then ‘blows it out’ and rubs the barrel of the weapon against her cheek. Now, we know her character gets turned on by pain, but burning your face off with hot metal might seem to be taking things a little too far! As it happens, it seems to have no effect on her at all. She must have thick skin, I guess.

Target For Killing (1966)

‘What do you mean I’m too old for this shit?’

The production also looks a little tatty here and there, but all these shortcomings can be forgiven when you consider the wonderful casting. For a start there’s Granger, still oozing Hollywood charisma in his 50s and fully committed in the surprisingly violent fight scenes. Dor went onto to tangle with the real thing in the shape of Sean Connery in ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967) and Jurgens crossed swords with Roger Moore in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977).

Not enough for you? Minor villain and eventual rat fodder Adolfo Celi came out on the wrong end of another encounter with Connery in ‘Thunderball’ (1965) and the lovely Molly Peters was 007’s personal masseuse in the same movie! On top of all the Bond connections, we get Klaus Kinski as a conflicted trigger man, Davies who was TV’s ‘Maigret’ and Erika Remberg who appeared with Moore on the small screen in ‘The Saint‘.

Curiously enough though, with the notable exception of Granger, the most memorable performance here is from Gabel. Her only major credits are an appearance in Joseph Losey’s misfiring ‘007’ satire, ‘Modesty Blaise’ (1966) and opposite Gordon Scott in ‘Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure’ (1959) (which featured support from a pre-stardom Sean Connery!) Here, she oozes a playful, dangerous sexuality in various tight fitting outfits, leaving little doubt about her character’s preferences and motivation. While Jurgen plots, she’s  always in the background, usually stroking some inanimate object or other in a suggestive way! Although, rather brilliantly, in one scene she’s just doing her knitting!

This is quite an entertaining Eurospy if you forgive the slightly uncertain tone; the film never really deciding how serious – or silly – it wants to be. Yes, there’s a bit of an age gap between our romantic leads, but who could blame a young woman like Dor getting her head turned by the handsome Granger? After all, he’s just so damn suave and capable! If ‘Bond’ had come along a decade earlier, he would have been on the shortlist for the role. No question about it.

Good fun if you’re not too demanding.

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James Tont – Operazione D.U.O. (1966)

James Tont - Operazione D.U.O. (1966)‘We in the intelligence service always keep some tungsten dentures handy.’

James Tont survives three attempts on his life while giving a speech at the world’s first convention of secret agents, but is tripped on the stairs by a little girl. Recuperating from his injuries at a private clinic, he competes with a mysterious tycoon for the affections of a beautiful nurse, but their struggle is to take on global consequences…

We’re back in the company of Lando Buzzanca again as the Italian comic actor runs around the glamorous capitals of Europe as this week’s ‘Tont On A Budget.’ This is a sequel to domestic hit ‘James Tont – Operazione U.N.O.’ (1965) and opens with our smarmy hero at the espionage conference, encountering Mata Hari’s duplicitous elderly sister and various other shady types. Apparently, he’s the keynote speaker and delivers a robust defence of the technological advances in spy craft which are threatening to leave the more old-fashioned agents behind. That’s potentially quite an interesting story idea, but this certainly isn’t the film to explore it.

Instead, Buzzanca fetches up at a private clinic in Geneva where his broken leg seems to heal instantly, thanks to the bedside manner of Nurse Clarissa (Claudia Lange). Unfortunately, he has a rival in elderly billionaire Magnus Spring (Loris Gizzi, playing a different role from super villain ’Goldsinger’ in the first movie). Part of Tont’s treatment includes a bath in radioactive water(!), but it’s the temperature that kills him when someone messes with the dials on the control panel. His demise prompts world-wide headlines and a televised funeral, which rather proves that he wasn’t much of a ‘secret’ agent, after all.

James Tont - Operazione D.U.O. (1966)

Tont always remembered to put the seat down…

In a shocking twist, our hero is not dead! It was just a ruse to fool the mysterious super villain (now who could that be?) Apparently, he’s recruited a gang of ruthless Beatniks to swipe various nuclear gewgaws for some reason or other, so Buzzanca puts on a stupid hairpiece, gets hip and goes undercover as cool cat Bingo Kowlaski.

At groovy hangout ‘The Blue Dolphin’, he performs a far out song about how much he hates the sky, and this gives him enough kudos to be invited into the criminal gang! He also links up with beautiful, but sadly misguided, Helene (France Anglade). From there, it’s a simple matter of being reduced to the size of a sheet of paper, getting smuggled into Cape Kennedy as dehydrated food, stealing a rocket from the launch pad and trying to foil a plot to send the dome of St Peter’s in Rome into space and steal the Vatican’s treasure.

If all these madcap antics and wild story ideas sound quite appealing, then it’s truly a staggering achievement to the filmmakers abilities that the film drags so much. Sure, there’s a submersible disguised as a giant turtle, Buzzanca makes it into space more than a decade before that other fellow in ‘Moonraker’ (1979) and Gizzi wiles away the time playing a board game based on the exploits of another, certain secret agent (he loses!) But the jokes are forced and predictable, the action half-baked and Buzzanca doesn’t have the necessary charm to put things across.

Bruno Corbucci was in the director’s chair on his own for this effort, and at least it seems there was a little budget available this time. The production made it to London at least, although there’s a suspicion of some ‘guerrilla filming’ going on with some of the ‘tourist board’ crowd scenes. But the most remarkable fact connected with the film is that 8 writers worked on it! Perhaps this goes some way to explain all the different story elements, but does prompt a much more fundamental question. Couldn’t any of them have come up with some decent jokes?

James Tont did not return for any further adventures.

S.O.S. Conspiracion Bikini/S.O.S. The Bikini Conspiracy (1967)

S.O.S. The Bikini Conspiracy (1967)‘With joy, I would split that bastard’s head with a single blow.’

When a model is killed at a swimsuit fashion show in a posh resort, secret agent Alex Dimano begins to investigate. He suspects the culprits to be members of mysterious criminal group, the Secret Organizational Service, whose hierarchy have assembled at the hotel for a clandestine meeting.

Mexican Eurospy (if that’s not a contradiction in terms!) co-produced by a studio in Ecuador and shot on location in that country. Our ‘Bond On A Budget’ is Julio Alemán, only he’s not running around the glamorous capital cities of the continent so much as just a posh hotel with a late diversion to a local waterway. He does tangle with the usual mixture of ‘guns, gadgets and girls’ though, so that part of the tried and trusted formula remains intact.

The family name of Rene Cardona is all over Mexican low-budget cinema of the last half of the 20th Century. Patriarch Rene Cardona Senior was responsible for many interesting productions, often featuring monsters, mad scientists and wrestlers. He also recast Father Christmas as a megalomaniac drug pushing peeping tom in the somewhat questionable kids film ‘Santa Claus’ (1959). His son, Rene Cardona Junior, was happy to join the family business, and, although he never quite reached the demented ‘heights’ of his father’s output, he still delivered many a cheap exploitation picture with titles like ‘Night of 1000 Cats’ (1972) and ‘Tintorera…Bloody Waters’ (1977). He also wrote scripts for his father including ‘Blue Demon and Zovek and the Invasion of the Dead’ (1973). This film was one of his early efforts, and it was only the second time he took on the dual role of both writer and director.

Alemán spends most of the movie’s first hour running around the hotel working on his mission which conveniently involves secret meetings with various beautiful women. This is something which obviously interests him as much as his assignment, as he hits on every random bikini-clad babe in sight anyway. Not surprisingly, this does not go down well with girlfriend Adriana (Sonia Furió) who keeps surprising him in various mildly compromising situations and won’t accept his lame excuses. This all seems logical enough until later on when Furió uses one of her high heels as a gun, is kidnapped by the S.O.S. and activates her homing beacon so her location can be tracked. Because she was an agent all the time and working with Alemán! Maybe they just don’t believe in talking shop because you wouldn’t have known it!

S.O.S. The Bikini Conspiracy (1967)

Slipping on the soap in the shower can have unfortunate consequences…

Alemán’s investigations into the murder prompts him to interview the guests he believes are part of the S.0.S. However, rather than answer any of his questions, all of them just hand him a written deposition, obviously realising that paperwork is far deadlier than a bullet or a knife. Actually, one of the film’s major flaws is that there’s no proper introduction to any of these characters. The S.O.S. hierarchy has been infiltrated with a mole (probably played by Grace Polit, the credits aren’t clear) but, although heavily featured early on, her character never even gets a name.

Similarly, the objectives of this deadly organisation are also cheerfully vague; all we learn is that they intend to practice acts of terrorism appropriate to the ‘ideologies and peculiarities of the chosen countries.’ In charge of the bad guys is the hard-bitten Ms Bristol (Sonia lnfante) and, if there does seem to be a good number of women in the high echelons of her organisation, before you get too excited, it’s worth mentioning that most of them are little more than set dressing. The one exception is lnfante’s lieutenant Maria Monti who gets in on the action a little and sings a song written by French crooner and sometime actor Charles Aznavour. Talking of music, we also get some dancing at the ‘Crazy Horse’ courtesy of a beat combo partly dressed in silly blonde Beatle wigs.

To be fair, things pick up a good deal in the final third of the film. The car chase might be a little on the lacklustre side but when the vehicle containing the bad guys cracks up, it explodes nicely into a ball of roaring flame. Rather brilliantly, this happens the very second the wheels have left the road and for no discernible reason at all! lt’s probably the film’s funniest moment, albeit probably unintentional. From there, we find out that the budget stretched to a helicopter, a speed boat and a cruiser, but secret weapon ‘The Amphibian’ turns out to be just a smaller boat. We never see its’ apparent firepower either because the villains just give up! Plenty of bullets fly around, but no-one hits anything apart from Alemán who manages surprisingly well, considering he’s firing one-handed while piloting a speedboat at the same time.

Dinamo did get further adventures, both in a short-lived comic book series and in movie sequel ‘Peligro!…Mujeres En Accion’/’Danger! Women In Action’ (1969). Only Alemán returned for the second episode, but the cast did include Elizabeth Campbell, who had battled gangsters, mad scientists and even the Aztec Mummy as one of Mexican cinema’s ‘Wrestling Women’ at the start of the decade.

Although it’s obvious the budget wasn’t there for a big finish, the last act of this one isn’t too bad. Unfortunately, it takes an awful long time to get there.

Peter Pan swimwear by Oleg Cassini.

James Tont: Operazione U.N.O./Goldsinger (1965)

James Tont Operation UNO (1965)‘Barbara, if you hadn’t sent that mouse when you did, I wouldn’t be a man anymore; l’d be a hamburger.’

A secret agent who has problems keeping his mind on the job chases down a vital roll of microfilm, only to find it contains no information, just musical notes. As he struggles to decode the message by listening to various lounge singers, a sinister villain targets the United Nations on behalf of an aggressive foreign power.

Italian EuroSpy parody that finds Lando Buzzanca as this week’s ‘Tont On A Budget’, running around the glamorous capital cities of the world at a pace to make even the most enthusiastic film editor’s head spin. Along the way he tangles with the obligatory elements of guns, gadgets and girls, but mostly girls. He also encounters a talking mouse.

Opening with a song that should get every copyright lawyer in the world reaching for a lawsuit, it’s clear from the get-go that we’re in very broad comedy territory. Buzzanca is the cleverly named Agent 007 and a half, who is in trouble with his controller because he’s more interested in getting his hands on the fairer sex than on that missing microfilm. Turning into a surgeon to perform the necessary operation to retrieve his prize from the body of an enemy agent(!), Buzzanca finds the message coded in musical notes, and has to spend a lot of time hanging around nightclubs and listening to horrible songs to decode it. As this tends to involve one gorgeous euro-babe after another, it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make.

It involves a bewildering travelling schedule too; taking in Las Vegas, Miami, Hong Kong, and several major cities, although l am unconvinced the production visited many of them (or even more than one!) ln other developments, Buzzanca flirts shamelessly with Miss Lollypop back at HQ, eye drops and sunglasses give him x-ray vision, and at one point his body ends up covered in gold paint, a bit like actress Shirley Eaton in some other, slightly better known film whose title escapes me at the moment. Our villains are Goldsinger (Loris Gizzi) and his bowler-hatted henchman Kayo (George Wang) and, as well as the title song, more of the musical soundtrack flirts cheerfully with dire legal consequences.

James Tont Operation UNO (1965)

‘But I ordered the Aston Martin…’

As you may have gathered, none of this to be taken remotely seriously, but the film aims for a wacky sensibility that it never really delivers, instead settling for boring, predictable jokes and half-assed physical gags. So, rather than knowingly winking at the audience with a sly grin, instead it chooses to hit them constantly over the head with one heavy blunt object after another.

On the plus side, there is a high speed car chase with some excellent stunt driving. It’s rather a good sequence, but seems to have wandered in from another movie entirely. Interestingly enough, Buzzanca’s little Fiat does turn into a submarine at one point, predating a certain Lotus driven by Roger Moore in some other spy movie I vaguely remember that was made a dozen years later. His car also boasts a telephone and a TV, although this does seem to be stuck on a channel that shows endless rejected entries for the Eurovision Song Contest.

The directors here were Bruno Corbucci (brother of the more successful Sergio) and Giovanni Grimaldi. Both had long careers in Italian cinema, almost exclusively in comedy (which is a bit hard to believe!), although Grimaldi also penned thriller ‘Web of the Spider’ (1971). Lovely co-star Evi Marandi also appeared in the much better EuroSpy ‘From The Orient With Fury’ (1965), as well as Mario Bava’s ‘Planet of the Vampires’ (1965) and bargain-basement doodle ‘Goldface, The Amazing Superman’ (1967). Here, she continually resists Buzzanca’s oily charms, but can she hold out until the final credits? I think you already know the answer to that one.

Comedy sometimes doesn’t cross national boundaries, and this would seem to be a prime example of that. It was successful enough domestically to get a swift sequel.

Spies Kill Silently/Le Spie Uccidono In Silenzio (1966)

Spies Kill Silently (1966)‘Then you become an automaton, bending all of your willpower and intelligence to my will alone.’

When a top professor’s daughter is murdered, it provides confirmation that a mysterious villain is targeting the scientific community. His assassins are individuals in positions of utmost trust, programmed to obey him via a new hypnotic drug. The authorities send their best agent to bring the madman to justice…

Although it was not obvious at the time, it now seems clear that the Italian and Spanish governments signed an international treaty in the mid-1960s. Their intention was to take over the world by flooding the marketplace with endless cheap Eurospy films, thus bankrupting Hollywood and the western Military-Industrial Complex. It’s the only thing that makes any reasonable sense.

This week’s ‘Bond On A Budget’ is Canadian actor Lang Jeffries as Michael Drum, an agent so brilliant that he only thinks to check his hotel room for electronic bugs after he’s explained his plans to local police inspector Craig (Jose Bodalo). He’s also happy to accept a colleague’s prompt identification of a cyanide pill, which he makes just by looking at it. Yes, we’re back in the fairly predictable territory of low-budget spy shenanigans, with a complete absence of big set pieces, stunts, gadgets and even car chases. Most of the action here is confined to the usual fisticuffs and a couple of gun battles. After one of those, Jeffries strolls down the street and fixes a beautiful woman’s car. When she asks for the keys back, he keeps them. ‘I’ll drive’ he smirks, taking her right back to his hotel room. Why does she just smile and go along with it? Because it’s the sixties, baby! Oh, and because she’s an enemy agent, which no-one could possibly have guessed.

In its defence, at least director Mario Caiario keeps things going at a decent pace and, although Jeffries is not over-blessed with screen presence, he’s a capable enough leading man. He enjoyed a very brief career on US TV in the late-1950s before being cast opposite Rhonda Fleming in Italian muscleman picture ‘Revolt of the Slaves’ (1960). He rarely worked outside of Europe after that, playing mostly in costume pictures and more Eurospy films. He even tried his hand at science fiction; appearing as literary hero Perry Rhodan in the hopelessly tatty but rather fun, ‘Mission: Stardust’ (1967).

Spies Kill Silently (1966)

The Three Stooges were trying out some edgier new material…

Elsewhere in the cast we find the lovely Erika Blanc, who brought beauty to a number of notable cult pictures in the 1960s, including Mario Bava’s ‘Kill, Baby…Kill’ (1966), and several Eurospy films like ‘Espionage in Lisbon’ (1965). She also steamed up the screen in horror ‘The Devil’s Nightmare’ (1971). She’s still working as of 2017 at the age of 75.

What lets this film down in the final analysis is the fragmentary script, which is little more than a hodgepodge of half realised ideas that were already becoming a little too familiar by the mid-1960s. Character motivation is never a major concern; the most obvious example being that of our supervillain Andrea Bosic. Why is he killing off all the scientists who are working on projects to help the human race? Well…umm…we don’t really know. He never really explains himself, beyond some vague declarations about taking over the world. He even unveils a super weapon toward the end of the film that he’s had all along but never mentioned!

Cookie-cutter Eurospy which benefits from good pacing and professionalism all round, but the only thing likely to live in the memory is the shortcomings of the script.

Agent X-77 Orders To Kill/Baraka Sur X-13 (1966)

Agent X-77 Orders To Kill (1966)‘I was probing to assess his resistance capacity.’

Enemy agents attempt to steal a top scientist’s research and then assassinate him by sabotaging a commercial airliner. The plane crashes but the Professor survives, and various espionage operatives clash in their efforts to acquire his secrets, including French Secret Service man Agent X-77…

Rather dreary, run of the mill Eurospy shenanigans, with the only noticeable twist being the involvement of a French film company in its production, along with the inevitable collaboration of Italian and Spanish studios. The Gallic influence means this week’s ‘Bond on A Budget’ is actor Gérard Barry, who demonstrates the necessary charm and the usual ability to shot someone dead from a great distance without aiming his gun properly. Having said that, there is an effort to ground his adventures in a more realistic way that many of his contemporaries, although the lack of big sets, stunt work, gadgets and set pieces may have been as much to do with budget limitations as anything else.

The lack of production resource is pretty obvious from our opening sequence. The plane disaster is rendered through the tremendously convincing medium of two characters hearing a distant explosion and when Barry, posing as an accident investigator, visits the crash site all we see is the disordered interior of the passenger cabin and a few extras playing dead. Much of the subsequent action is centred on the hospital where the Professor is admitted and a series of less than stellar plot developments that seem merely designed to pad the run time to feature length.

These include the introduction of our faceless villains, their tacked-on plan to blow up a factory that’s supposed to be producing the Professor’s invention (whatever it is!), and Barry’s romance of sassy nurse Sylva Koscina, who falls for him after just one date at a restaurant cum-nightclub that bares an unfortunate resemblance to a poorly dressed film set. He also spends a good deal of time driving around in his little red car, constantly accompanied by a jangly zither on the soundtrack. Now that musical accompaniment worked magnificently in ‘The Third Man’ (1949) but here it’s just annoying. Extremely annoying. Especially when it plays over lengthy shots of tape reels spinning on the kind of computer that used to take six hours to add two and two.

Barry’s performance is from the Sean Connery school of Bond. He may smile and romance the ladies a little, but he’s all business really and is pleasingly cold blooded on a couple of occasions, particularly when he gasses a fellow agent who has switched sides for love. But action is at a serious premium here, with just a few bouts of unconvincing fisticuffs, a bit of gun play, some decent stunt driving and a couple of explosions. The plot is cheerfully vague throughout and simply disintegrates into some running about and the attempts of various agents to kill each other. Exactly what the Professor has invented is never really made clear. If it is some kind of amazing, brand new rocket fuel, then how come this anonymous factory outside Trieste is already making it? The script simply doesn’t bother with such trivial exposition.

Agent X-77 Orders To Kill (1966)

The audience were less than thrilled with the in-flight movie…

Directing duties here were appropriately split between Italian Silvio Siano and Frenchman Maurice Cloche, who it could be argued made a loose Eurospy trilogy with ‘Agent FX18’ (1964) starring Ken Clark and ‘Le Vicomte Regie Jes Comptes’ (1967) with former ‘Sinbad’, Kerwin Matthews.

Barry was a hero of French adventure films at the time, and later had a major role in ‘Open Your Eyes’ (1997), which was remade (poorly) in the U.S. as ‘Vanilla Sky’ (2001) with Tom Cruise. Koscina is best remembered as Steve Reeves’ better half in cheesy Italian muscleman epics ‘Hercules’ (1957) and ‘Hercules Unchained’ (1959) but had a significant career in more respectable cinema, appearing in Georges Franju’s ‘Judex’ (1963) and ‘Juliet of the Spirits’ (1965) for Ferderico Fellini. Also in the cast is Gérard Tichy, who was the title villain in ‘Superargo Vs. Diabolicus’ (1966) but also appeared in big budget productions like ‘Dr Zhivago’ (1965) and ‘King of Kings’ (1961), as well as Mario Bava’s impressive horror ‘Hatchet For The Honeymoon’ (1970).

There were certainly worse pretenders to 007 crown, but that market was seriously oversaturated by the mid-1960s and, without any remarkable elements, it’s inevitable that this example simply got lost in the shuffle.

Password: Uccidete Agente Gordon/Kill Agent Gordon (1966)

Password Uccidete Agente Gordon (1966)‘You’re very sweet and one day I want you to meet my twin brother.’

The Western intelligence community suspects that a mysterious criminal organisation are supplying the VietCong with illegal weapons. When an agent investigating in Paris is killed, a top spy is sent to take his place and bust the gun smuggling operation wide open…

This week’s ‘Bond on A Budget’ is American actor Roger Browne (again!), top lining this Italian-Spanish co-production directed by EuroSpy veteran Sergio Grieco under his usual alias of ‘Terence Hathaway’ (brilliantly misspelled in the credits as ’Therence’!) But let’s ignore the first two elements of the usual Eurospy formula of Guns, Gadgets and Girls and go straight to the main attractions: Roslba Neri and Helga Liné. Both actresses had bags of experience in the genre and, together with Browne, constitute what could almost be regarded as a EuroSpy dream team! And with a safe, experienced pair of hands behind the camera, this just has to be good, right? Um…no.

Browne arrives in Paris where he’s kidnapped from a taxi at gunpoint before he’s had a chance to even check in at his hotel. Fast work by the enemies of democracy you might think! But no, it turns out that it’s just his boss who wants to brief him on the mission (this agency seems to have a peculiar idea of ‘covert operations’!) ln no time, Browne has identified his ex-colleague’s important contact, played by Neri. She’s part of some kind of cabaret act that are referred to throughout the film as a Ballet company! Their dance instructor has ‘generic villain’ tattooed on his forehead and some business ensues involving a vital microfilm (or something?)

Password Uccidete Agente Gordon (1966)

Q Division always came up with the most sophisticated new spy gadgets…

Then is off to Tripoli for the next stop on the dance tour, and Browne tags along as it seems to be the thing to do (for some reason). There he teams up with Russian agent Liné and both are kidnapped and tortured after running around quite a bit. The villains attempt to double cross each other, a suitcase explodes, people actually fire guns at each other (eventually!), and there’s a final twist that will only surprise someone who has nodded off a couple of times during the film (most people, probably).

But the main problem here is the plot. It’s completely underdeveloped, and often seems to be little more than a series of excuses to get Browne from one punch up to the next. These are quite energetic, if not particularly convincing, the realism not assisted by the intermittent introduction of a fairly obvious stunt double. And far be it from me to question the presence of the always luminous Neri, but her dance moves seem to consist of just teasing her hair and strutting about for a few seconds. That’s not really ballet, love. Actually, her role is rather brief, although there is a scene where Browne ties her up and tickles her with a feather (for purposes of information gathering, of course). Liné is wasted even worse than Neri, with almost her entire contribution to proceedings being to lend her car to one of Browne’s colleagues! The two actresses never share a scene, which may have been down to the logistics of filming, but is a crying shame (or even ‘Kriminal’ if you will). Rather brilliantly, the villains favour the old Hollywood cowboy method of shooting; one handed, hold the gun low and don’t bother to aim properly. Surprisingly enough, they never manage to hit anything. It really highlights some serious shortcomings in our villain’s recruitment policy and henchman training program.

But all these doings prompt an important question. ls this even a EuroSpy film at all? Ok, so we do have a semi-mysterious villain. What is his plan for world domination? He doesn’t seem to have one. ls there a secret base that explodes when you shoot out a control panel? Err…no. ls there a super- scientific weapon ‘that must not fall into the wrong hands’? Nope. But there is lots of ‘Tourist Board’ footage showcasing the local colour of the glamorous locations, right? No. Any action set pieces or notable stunt work? Not really. Gadgets! There must be gadgets? Um…there’s a wristwatch that explodes, does that count? Are there any outlandish trappings at all? No. Well, to be fair, Liné is tied to a table at the climax and some sparks fly about. So there is that.

Password Uccidete Agente Gordon (1966)

The rehearsals for ‘Swan Lake’ were going particularly well…

Grieco began his directing career with costume and muscleman features, before jumping on the Bond bandwagon with ‘Agente 007: Missione Bloody Mary’ (1965) (also with Liné) and ‘From The Orient With Fury’ (1965), before following up with this effort, and the underwhelming ‘Special Mission Lady Chaplin’ (1966) (with Liné again!). He also reteamed with Browne for gloriously cheesy superhero flick ‘Argoman, The Fantastic Superman/Incident ln Paris’ (1967) for which the world must always be truly grateful.

Browne himself had already done the EuroSpy thing for real on several occasions; partnering up with Liné for ‘Operation Poker’ (1965) and with Neri for Umberto Lenzi’s ‘SuperSeven Calling Cairo’ (1965). As you may have gathered, Liné appeared in a truly heroic amount of films, especially in the 1970s, and, although her credits include a lot of comedies, notable cult films include ‘Kriminal’ (1966) and its sequel, ‘Horror Express’ (1972) with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, ‘The Vampire’s Night Orgy’ (1973), ‘Vengeance of the Mummy’ (1973) with Paul Naschy, and ‘The Lorelei’s Grasp’ (1973) for ‘Blind Dead’ director Amando de Ossorio. She also found the time to star opposite legendary silver-masked Mexican wrestler El Santo in ‘Santo Contra el Doctor Muerte’ (1973)!

Neri is perhaps best remembered as the rather naughty ‘Lady Frankenstein’ (1971) and was unlucky enough to star in Jess Franco’s hopeless ‘The Castle of Fu Manchu’ (1969) with Christopher Lee. Actually, the actress worked in lots of different genres; principally Westerns and comedies, although more horror roles followed in the 1970s after her turn as the Baron’s daughter. Usually, in films where there appeared to be a limited budget for clothes.

If I’ve seemed to focus a little too much on the career history of our three principal actors, it’s mainly to emphasise what a missed opportunity we have here. All in all, this film is more of an international spy thriller than anything else; too vaguely silly to bear the stamp of Cold War realism but far too mundane to even be called a James Bond knock-off.

And a complete waste of everyone’s time.