- This is the third film in the Harry Palmer character series (played by Michael Caine) starting with The Ipcress File in 1965, then Funeral in Berlin in 1966. From the novels of Len Deighton and often compared with the James Bond series. This is Ken Russell’s second film as director and although he reported didn’t want to do it—he infuses many of the scenes and set pieces with high visual panache
- Caine’s trademark glasses worked into the creative opening credit titles
- Shot in Finland in the winter- lots of fur coats, hats, snowshoes and ice
- Gorgeous greens in the Markee hotel
- During the opening they show Caine’s Palmer’s apartment—he’s a private eye and the camera lingers on the picture of Bogart and this does play like a detective film for the first hour
- Russell puts many of the scenes in front of murals and shoots dialogue from a wide shot- very nicely done
- The film is heavily flawed, and the narrative doesn’t come off like the first two films (the first one is a masterpiece)—it gets a little loose and slapsticky with the action and Karl Malden’s character’s cousin in the film
- Malden proves quickly again he can act with anybody (this is the guy who went up against Brando in Streetcar and On the Waterfront). Ed Begley doesn’t come off quite as well in a juicy role. He plays a radical right-wing Texan terrorist. One of Russell’s best scenes is when he puts a fire right behind Begley and matches the energy of the political rant with his camera in a dizzying montage
- A nice tracking shot left to right as the characters arrive In Texas at 63 minutes
- It is most reminiscent of Thunderball in the Bond series—big and fun—not overly intelligent with a big caricature villain and a massive set piece evil headquarters
- The Nazi imagery in the finale- powerful
- Recommend but not near the top 10 of 1967- closer to the fringe
Speaking of juicy roles what is your opinion on Martin Sheen in The Dead Zone?
Critics love it.But I am not particularly an admirer of it.I think it is a letdown compared with the book Which is brilliant.Although Walken is great.Do you have a page for Dead Zone?
@Malith– no page yet for The Dead Zone- sorry. I think the film is superb- but have to admit I haven’t read the book. I don’t remember feeling strongly one way or the other about Sheen in the film. I remember being mesmerized by Walken
I haven’t watched this one at all, but it’s always funny with a filmmaker like Ken Russell -you can pretty much imagine which aspects of his films will work and which won’t. Though from what you describe above and some of the images I take it it’s somewhat ambitious visually. Have you by any chance seen Women in Love? The first time I caught it, it made an impression on me thanks mainly to the psychosexual themes and the kaleidoscopic approach – there is a lot of colour, elaborate sequences, excess. It’s quite striking. But the second time I caught it, after catching up with several French New Wave films, I began to notice the influences the movement had on Russell. Women in Love contains everything -even freeze frames, to my recollection, jump cuts, offbeat music, high brow philosophical conversations on redefining love and female sexuality, shooting on location (forests, prairies), handheld camera (particularly for dream sequences), it’s fast paced, there’s lots of symbolism to be found in small unimportant actions (it almost sounds as if I described Jules and Jim). Of course, they’re not on the same level, but I think that it’s a very original effort – it’s like the French New Wave but more dramatic and quintessentially British. And or course, there’s the famous nude wrestling scene, dancing with buffalo and all of that. I was very impressed both times. The Devils is a darker, more visceral vision (even with the monastery being entirely white), so I think they differ a bit in terms of tone. But I would be very curious to see what you thought of it.
@Georg- not yet on Women in Love yet I must regret. Sounds very intriguing.
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