Fuller Report/Rapporto Fuller Base Stoccolma (1968)

Fuller Report (1968)‘Maybe l do, and maybe I don’t. I don’t know what the hell’s happening.’

A racing car driver visits Stockholm on a promotional trip at the same time as a Russian ballerina arrives in the city to defect. Two secret agents die after exchanging a confidential report and, as the driver is found at the scene of the second murder, he is drawn into the web of deceit and lies spun by various international espionage agencies…

U.S. actor Ken Clark had already spent considerable time running around continental Europe as this week’s ‘Bond On A Budget’ playing agent Dick Malloy in a trilogy of films, including ‘Agent Bloody Mary’ (1965) and ‘From The Orient With Fury’ (1965). He was following the trail blazed by ‘Hercules’ actor Steve Reeves; relocating to Italy for roles as a leading man after a distinctly underwhelming American career. It was a game plan followed by many at the time. But, although at first glance this seems like yet another ‘cookie cutter’ Eurospy project, you could argue that it doesn’t fit into that category at all.

Clark is Dick Worth: a hot shot, womanising Formula 1 driver who is cajoled into a Swedish working holiday by asthmatic team manager Jess Hahn. The excuse is that Hahn is looking for investors amongst Stockholm’s intelligentsia and Clark is duly dispatched to shake some hands at a theatrical premiere. But our handsome hero has other ideas. His own mission is to ‘get a Swedish girl’ and it seems his luck may be in when one gives him a fender bender in the car park. Unfortunately for Clark, she’s a secret agent who is there for a rendezvous with a colleague and to receive the mysterious report of the title. Both agents wind up dead with Clark first on the scene of the second killing. Luckily, rather than getting arrested by the local constabulary, he’s recruited by C.l.A. big cheese Lincoln Tate to help obtain the report instead (obviously standard C.I.A. practice).

So far, so familiar. This Italian-French co-production sounds like a dozen other Eurospy pictures of the period. As well as Clark, it even has a familiar name behind the camera: Sergio Grieco (hiding under his usual alias of Terence Hathaway) who’d delivered the Dick Malloy trilogy that starred Clark as well as ‘Password: Kill Agent Gordon’ (1965) with Roger Browne. But there are significant differences from the usual formula, which give this film more of the vibe of a serious cold war thriller. For a start, there are no gadgets of any kind. The villain does have a secret identity, but no lair or underground base, and there’s no super weapon ‘that must not fall into the wrong hands.’ Yes, everyone is after this mysterious report, but, for once, it is actually important to the plot, rather than just a device to drive the story.

Fuller Report (1968)

‘Talk or I’m going to smoke this whole pack in front of you.’

And then there’s Clark’s racing driver. Yes, he’s a hit with the ladies, but he soon falls head over heels for sexy ballerina Beba Loncar instead of playing the field. He also spends almost the entire film all at sea; completely confused by events and getting captured, beaten up and interrogated on such a regular basis that it’s really no surprise when yet another group of faceless goons start whaling on him and shouting questions.

Clark’s lack of competence is quite refreshing and it’s perhaps indicative that by 1968, the seemingly endless tide of ‘Bond’ knock-offs was on the wane. However, this doesn’t help to energise the film’s repetitious action, and the absence of any unusual quirks or outlandish touches doesn’t assist with the entertainment value. There’s also a serious lack of pace, which is particularly obvious in the closing stages where the film fails to build any momentum at all.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the copious amounts of smoking that everybody does. After all, what’s the first thing you do after finding a fresh corpse that’s still warm? Light up, of course!

A rather anonymous spy thriller that has little to recommend it.

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Agent Secret FX 18/FX 18 Secret Agent (1964)

Agent Secret FX 18/ FX 18 Secret Agent (1964)‘You’re much too beautiful to bother your head with such things.’

A painter is killed with a blow dart, and his apartment destroyed in an explosion. The special operative sent to investigate disappears, so top agent Francis Coplan is called back from vacation to undertake the mission…

Dire Italian-Spanish Eurospy effort with American actor Ken Clark as this week’s ‘Bond on a Budget’ carrying on in Rome, Marseille and on the island of Majorca. Guns, Girls and Gadgets? Well, yes…but only the girls appear with any frequency. Actually, it’s painfully obvious that this is an early example of a ‘007’ knock-off. The well-worn formula isn’t clearly established, and proceedings often resemble a simple international crime thriller, rather than anything else. Gadgets are restricted to a ‘cigarette’ blow gun, a trick gun and a toy radio antenna which allows transmission of coded messages inside a military zone.

Agent Secret FX 18/ FX 18 Secret Agent (1964)

‘Don’t look at me; I haven’t got a clue what’s going on either…’

This all makes more sense when you realise that Coplan was an existing literary character, created by Belgian authors Gaston Van Den Panhuyse and Jean Libert (writing as ‘Paul Kenny’). He’d already appeared on screen, being played by Henri Vidal in ‘Action lmmédiate’ (1957), and it seems obvious that he was simply co-opted as a convenient ‘Bond’ stand-in as a way to ride the wave of Connery’s global juggernaut.

So, how does it differ from the usual hi-jinks that became so familiar in the years that followed? Well, for a start, Clark is not a lone wolf. He has a team, as allocated by boss La Vieux (Jacques Dacqmine). This includes ‘stand-in’ wife Jany Clair and ‘comedy’ sidekicks Jean-Pierre Laverne and Lorenzo Robledo, who are given far too much screen time. At one stage, Clark’s under threat of getting completely sidelined by their laboured routines, which include a ‘hilarious’ knockabout fight sequence accompanied by music you might expect to hear in a two-reeler from the silent days. The IMF these guys are not.

There’s also a problem with our bad guys. To put it kindly, Noreau (Daniel Ceccaldi) and Barter (Claude Cerval) are completely anonymous, and we get no real idea about what they’re up to either. Their secret HQ is an ordinary private yacht, crewed by bit part thugs and pretty girls Cristina Gaioni and Margit Kocsis. Clair’s character is also a bit of a puzzle. To begin with, she’s an iceberg and rebuffs Clark’s smarmy advances, but, in the blink of a false eyelash, she’s in love with him! At times, it seems she’s in the film simply to be slapped around and tortured, but she does get to prove her spy credentials late on, via the twin mediums of Landrover and machine gun.

Coplan returned for 5 further big screen adventures in the 1960s; played by a different actor on each occasion, including Englishman Richard Wyler in ‘Coplan FX 18 Casse Tout’ (1965), which saw Dacqmine reprise his role and Clair return as a different character. We also got Lang Jeffries in ‘Coplan Ouvre Le Feu A Mexico (1967) which also starred Sabine Sun, who has a small role here. Co- writer/director Maurice Cloche did it all again with the unrelated ‘Agent X-77 Orders to Kill’ (1966), which was a little better, and Clark ranked up a trio of appearances as Dick Malloy, beginning with ‘Agente 077 Missione Bloody Mary’ (1965).

This is an unfocused, dreary slog through one of the dullest espionage adventures imaginable. A truly lousy viewing experience.