Death Is Nimble Death Is Quick (1966)

Country: Germany
Directed by Rudolph Zehatgruber
Tony Kendall, Brad Harris, Ann Smyrner, Dan Vadis, Sigfried Rauch, H. D. Kalatunga
Music by Gino Mariukki
‘I Love You, Jo Walker’ written by Bobby Gutesha, performed by Angela Monti

This, the third entry in the popular Kommissar X series, is set in Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). The over riding reason for the success of the Kommissar X films was the pairing of Tony Kendall as the smarmy detective Joe Walker and Brad Harris as the straight laced police officer Tom Rowland. The chemistry between the two actors is palpable, even when the characters are arguing and bickering at each other.

The film starts in Columbo and a festival called the Parahini is taking place. Through the streets there is a parade of elephants, dancers and musicians. Armed with a film camera is beautiful heiress Babs Lincoln (Ann Smyrner). Accompanying Babs on her tourist jaunt is a US Embassy official named Rogers.

As Rogers checks in at HQ, Babs is kidnapped by a bald slab of beef named King (Dan Vadis) and his cronies. Rogers pursues King and tries to rescue Babs, but is killed by a karate blow by King, who happens to be a martial arts master. But Rogers intervention has provided an opportunity for Babs to escape.

Babs father, Jefferson Lincoln has plenty of money to throw around, and to protect his daughter he hires the best detective in the world, Joe Walker (Tony Kendall). Those who are familiar with the character Joe Walker know that he walks around with a permanent smug grin and an erection. Naturally Walker spends as much time trying to get into Babs pants as he does protecting her.

Meanwhile in Singapore, Captain Tom Rowland is attending a karate convention. It appears that Karate is new to the Western world at this time, and this convention is extolling the virtues of karate as a law enforcement tool. Upon hearing about the death of Rogers, due to a karate blow, Rowland is sent to Ceylon to track down Roger’s killer.

The prime suspect for the kidnap attempt and killing are a criminal organisation called Three Golden Cats. The organisation was originally founded to fight against oppression and colonialism – namely the British – but now, many years later, they have been reformed and are not quite so noble in their pursuits.

Death Is Nimble, Death Is Quick is a small step down from the first two Kommissar X films (Kiss, Kiss, Kill, Kill and So Darling, So Deadly) Plotwise this is not one of the better entries in the series either, but it has a few things going for it. The first is a sequence in the eerie ‘Death Lake’, where Walker and Babs have to escape from an aquatic variation of the fire breathing dragon from Dr. No. The second is the showdown between the two karate masters, Rowland and King at the climax of the film. Actually, in some ways this climax also is a failing in the film, in that it is set up so early in the film that Rowland and King will meet, that the viewer can sit watching and waiting (and waiting) for this inevitable showdown. But once it starts, it was well worth the wait. In fact the choreography in this installment in the Kommissar X series is of an exceptionally high standard. This can be attributed to both Brad Harris and Dan Vadis who worked out all the stunts in the film.

Harris and Vadis were both bodybuilders who made the trip from America to Rome to star in films. Both appeared in various pumped up peplum films. After the sword and sandal movies dried up, Harris would reinvent himself appearing in Eurospy films and westerns. Vadis on the other hand wasn’t quite so successful and eventually ended up back in the United States. Vadis would regain a small level of prominence as a member of Clint Eastwood’s troop of Malpaso stock players appearing in both orang-utan films – Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can – as one of the Black Widow bikie gang. He also appeared in High Plains Drifter, The Gauntlet and Bronco Billy as Chief Big Eagle, a native American Indian snake charmer.

I am quite fond of the Kommissar X series (the films that I have seen), and many people consider this one of the best due to is competent action scenes and stunt sequences. I personally find the plotting rather weak and prefer So Darling, So Deadly. But that in itself should tell you something about the series and it’s longevity – seven films – each entry is extremely enjoyable.

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The President’s Analyst (1967)

Country: United States
Directed by Theodore Flicker
James Coburn, Godfrey Cambridge, Severn Darden, Barry McGuire, Joan Delaney, Walter Burke, William Daniels
Music by Lalo Schifrin

The President’s Analyst is an unusual and amusing spy comedy. It managed the two card trick of not only tapping into the sixties spy boom (like Coburn’s Flint flicks), but it also added something else. Now what the something is, is very hard to describe. It’s almost indefinable, because there are so many ideas scattered throughout this film. There’s everything from ‘freedom of expression’, ‘home security’, ‘privacy’, ‘racism’ and reliable ‘utilities services’. And I am sure that there are quite a few more themes lurking in there somewhere. This heady mixture amounts to one trippy little film, but one that is still very American. The British were no strangers to presenting ‘psyched-out’ swinging spy films – movies like Otley, Sebastian and even The Beatles Help tapped into the growing subculture – but the Americans were a lot slower to embrace the idea. Sure there were quite a few American spy comedies, but most were straight laced comedies – if that makes sense?

Due to the scattershot approach this film takes, it is wildly uneven, but don’t let that deter you from tracking a copy down. This is one film that must be watched if you love sixties spy films. Now having said that, it’s not a film that everyone will enjoy, because it does lack focus – but I think it should be seen because it is a bookend to American spy films. This is so hard to put into words – regular readers will have read some of my reviews for Eurospy films. Generally I describe them as muddled, confused, trippy and a great deal of exuberant fun. I believe that The Presidents Analyst is the most Eurospy of the American spy films of the sixties. It is muddled, confused, trippy and a great deal of exuberant fun.

The film starts with a spy named Don Masters (Godfrey Cambridge) paying a visit to his psychiatrist, Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn). Masters is a CEA agent and he has a lot of issues. During this session he recalls a nightmare he had where he rams a knife into the heart of an Albanian double agent. Schaefer is almost shocked to here the brutality of Masters’ story, but then quickly realises that working as a spy and killing people is a great way to vent feelings of hostility. Masters goes on to reveal that he isn’t just a patient, but he had in fact been assigned to Schaefer, and the sessions between the two men were an evaluation process.

The President of the United States is over-worked, over-burdened ans over-tired and requires a new analyst. Schaefer has been selected to be that man. Initially he loves his responsibility and his role as the man The President turns to in times of stress. But as time goes by, Schaefer becomes a receptacle for all the President’s angst and bitter confusion.

Whenever the President needs Schaefer’s services, any time of the day or night, he summons him with a flashing red light. Schaefer is gradually worn down. Each time he leaves the Oval Office he looks more jaded. His eyes are red and his hair is mussed. He looks like he has gone fifteen rounds with a heavy weight boxer.

Schaefer begins to slowly unravel. He becomes agitated, snappy and aggressive. Soon he adds paranoia to the cocktail. Next he begins to see spies everywhere and they are all after him. Unable to take it any more, he decides to do a runner and escape with a tourist group who are being shown through the Whitehouse.

Now Schaefer’s paranoia is for real. The Chinese, Russians, Cubans, CEA and FBR are all after him because of the secrets that he has inside his head. He takes refuge in the tour bus of a hippy musical troupe.

In some ways this film is the antithesis of Coburn’s successful Flint films. Schaefer stars off smooth and in control, just like Flint, but then he begins to unwind and the nervous twitches and mannerisms kick in. The President’s Analyst is a very flawed film, but I am a big fan of James Coburn and have watched a large chunk of his cinematic legacy, and I would go out on a limb and say this is his best performance. It is even more remarkable when you consider the time that it is made and the films that Coburn chose to make around it. I know Coburn received an Oscar for best supporting actor for his work in Affliction, but that was really for services rendered to the industry over a long period of time. As an actor, this is his crowning glory – unfortunately due to the eneveness throughout the film, it was never recognised.

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Taken (2008)
Country: France
Directed by Pierre Morrel
Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, John Gries, David Warshofsky, Kate Cassidy, Holly Valance
Music by Nathaniel Mechaly

Luc Besson’s Europacorp is almost becoming a sausage factory pumping out one slick action film after another. But these sausages taste pretty good – they’re not your thin BBQ style; they’re nice fat juicy continental sausages. Some of the recent links in the sausage chain include the Transporter films, Crimson Rivers and District 13.

Taken is one of Europacorp’s latest productions. It is written by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (who wrote Transporter 3), and directed by Pierre Morrel (who guided District 13). The star is Irishman Liam Neeson. Neeson is the films greatest asset because he gives the film a sense of realism, which if it was missing, would render the film as another violent exploitation flick.

The story is a pretty simple one. Bryan Mills (Neeson) is an ex-spy. He has given up his life of international intrigue so he can be closer to his estranged daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). This isn’t as easy as Mills envisions it to be. Kim is now seventeen years old and lives with her mother, Lenore (Famke Janssen) and a wealthy step dad. They spoil her rotten, and Mills cannot compete financially with Lenore and Kim’s new dad.

Kim has reached that age, which rich girls do (or at least in the movies), where she wants to expand her horizons and see the world. Coupled with her best friend Amanda they have planned a trip through Europe where they will follow, from city to city, the rock group U2. Mills reluctantly allows his daughter to go on the trip, but only on the proviso that she will call him every night.

On the girls first night in Paris, Lisa is talking to her father on the phone when a group of Albanian gangsters break into the apartment where the girls are staying. Brutally they kidnap the girls. Mills hears the incident take place over the phone. As you can appreciate, Mills is not happy about his daughter being taken, but as an ex-spy, he has a skill set and connections that enable him to launch into a rescue mission.

I know it’s a storyline that you’ve heard again and again. Steven Seagal almost made a career out of rescuing kidnapped family members in a brutal fashion. Thankfully Neeson is a fine actor, and at times underplays the scenes so this film does not spiral off into an over-wrought revenge thriller. Instead it’s a passable time killer, which covers little new territory, but it has been slickly put together, and with a runtime of under 90 minutes it won’t eat up too much of your day.

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Spy Tunes – No 1

Today is the second anniversary (or blogoversary if you prefer) of Permission To Kill. The third year promises to be the best yet with all sorts of exciting things coming up. By my reckoning I’ve still got to look at 6 Bond films, 2 Flint films, 2 Matt Helm films, 5 Jerry Cotton films, 6 or 7 OSS 117 films, 6 Kommissar X films and the list goes on. But I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the people who drop on by regularly – and those who have helped me track down some of those more obscure titles. Cheers, you make doing this fun!

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The Devil Came From Akasava (1971)

Country: West Germany / Spain
Directed by Jess Franco
Soledad Miranda, Fred Williams, Ewa Stromberg, Howard Vernon, Paul Müller, Horst Tappert, Siegfried Schürenberg, Jess Franco

Music by Manfred Hubler, Siegfried Schwab

One of the world’s most prolific film-makers is Jess Franco, and he also happens to be one of the weirdest. He also seems to elicit mixed emotions from film viewers. Some believe he is a gifted auteur with a surreal and quite singular cinematic vision. Others believe he is an over rated hack with poor story telling skills, and a lazy approach to cinema. While I wouldn’t go quite that far, I do believe he is his own worst enemy, always turning his back on mainstream cinema, ending up working on the fringes with second rate budgets and second rate scripts. I guess that you’ve got to respect a man who has stayed true to his beliefs, but unfortunately for us cinema goers it has meant that the bulk of his work, is practically unwatchable without the aid of the fast forward button on your remote control.

Professor Forrester (Ángel Menéndez) is a British mineralologist who is working in Africa (most likely in Kenya). His work has him trying to locate a mineral, which like the Philosopher’s Stone can turn metal in gold. So far his exploration and research has lead him to a cave where he believes the mineral is located.

As the film opens, Forrester’s assistant, Jaoa, is searching the cave dressed in a flame retardant suit. With a flashlight he searches the walls of the cave until he finds a giant crystal which he pries out of the wall. He places the stone in a steel suitcase and exits the cave into a lush jungle setting. Unfortunately for Jaoa, some armed men with less than honourable intentions have been watching and waiting. The men open fire on Jaoa and he is shot twice. Wounded, he tries to make a run for it, back to his car, but falls short. Luckily he has a driver waiting, who rushes to his aid and drags him into the vehicle.

Jaoa is taken back to Professor Forrester who tries to attend to Jaoa’s wounds, but they are too serious. Forrester decides to go for help and gets in his jeep and drives off to secure the services of local doctor, Andrew Thorrsen (Horst Tappert). Thorrsen is in surgery at the time, but promises to rush over as soon as he has finished. Forrester drives back to his compound.

Meanwhile, an unseen person, heads into the room where Jaoa is laid up. This mysterious person opens the suitcase with the mineral inside. The room is suddenly bathed in a bright light. When Forrester returns he finds Jaoa dead. His face looks badly burnt, and the suitcase has gone. Forrester, now seeking help from the authorities gets into his jeep once more and drives off. The gunmen who shot Jaoa happen to be lurking in the lush vegetation surrounding Forrester’s compound. As Forrester drives off, a shot rings out and Forrester disappears.

Meanwhile back in London, at the Forrester’s London office, a man is breaking in. He snoops around for a while until he comes across the safe and begins to open it. The thief doesn’t have time to enjoy his ill gotten gain, because lurking unseen in the shadows is a man with a knife, which he plunges into the thief’s back.

Head of Scotland Yard, Sir Philip (Siegfried Schürenberg) doesn’t believe that Jaoa’s death, Forrester’s disappearance, and the murder at Forrester’s UK office are a coincidence. To get to the bottom of the problem, he goes to a bordello and meets one of the working-girls, Jane Morgan (Soledad Miranda). Jane is actually a Secret Service agent and is to take over the investigation. The man stabbed in Forrester’s office was the first agent assigned to the case, but he didn’t get too far. It is hoped that a female may have more luck.

Jane, posing as an Exotic dancer flies out to Mombassa and then takes a job at the Red Rose nightclub where she can observe all the characters associated with Professor Forrester. But Jane isn’t the only one seeking answers. Walter Forrester, the nephew of the Professor has also travelled to Mombassa to look into his uncle’s disappearance.

The Devil Came From Akasava, while still featuring many of the things that you’d expect in a Jess Franco film – like strip-tease scenes played out against a groovy jazz soundtrack – is still rather comprehensible and accessible as far as Franco goes. This is most probably because it is based on an Edgar Wallace story and a script by Ladislas Fodor who scripted many of the Edgar Wallace Krimis from the sixties. As with all these types of films there are twists and turns along the way, but seasoned viewers will find nothing shocking here. The Devil Came From Akasava, if you’re new to the world of Jess Franco, is a soft introduction. It’s not too weird and it’s a passable way to spend ninety minutes.

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Billion Dollar Brain (1967)

House, over at ‘The Horror’ blogspot is at again and beaten me to the punch with the Billion Dollar Brain. Harry Palmer is back. With a bigger budget and some glossy set pieces. This is the third of the Harry Palmer films, this time directed by Ken Russell.

After a slick title sequence by Maurice Binder (Binder did many of the Bond title sequences, along with Charade and Arabesque), we are launched into the sordid world of Harry Palmer. Palmer has left the British Secret Service and become a second rate private detective.

This is the last of what I’d call the official Harry Palmer films, but Harry Palmer did return in the mid 1990’s in two low-budget, tele movies called Bullet To Beijing and Midnight In St Petersburg.

To read House’s review – click here.

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The Intercine Project (1974)

Country: United Kingdon / West Germany
Directed by Ken Hughes
James Coburn, Lee Grant, Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry, Keenan Wynn, Christiane Kruger, Michael Jayston, Julian Glover
Music by Roy Budd

Based on the novel ‘Intercine’ by Mort W. Elkind

internecine adj. mutually destructive.

That’s not me, being a smart alec, above. I have 2 reasons for listing a dictionary definition. Firstly, I didn’t know what ‘internecine’ meant. Secondly, the DVD cover (through Feemantle Media) states that it is ‘a fancy word for multiple murder’. I wanted to check if that was true. Hmmm!

Onto the plot! The movie gets off to a promising, if somewhat mysterious start with a gloved driver speeding from place to place, checking times on a stop-watch. At each stop he inspects a manilla folder. The four folders contain information on Christine Larsson (Christiane Kruger), Alex Hellman (Ian Hendry), David Baker (Michael Jayston) and Albert Parsons (Harry Andrews). Each of these characters are essential to the plot but take a back seat for a while.

We move on. Julian Glover has a small role as host of the TV show ‘The World This Week’, and this weeks guests include Professor Robert Elliot (James Coburn), who is a senior lecturer on economic studies at Havard University, and Jean Robinson (Lee Grant), a journalist. By the taunting and the repartee between the two guests, it is obvious that they have had a previous relationship that has gone sour, and now she doesn’t trust him or what he stands for.

Her suspicions grow when E.J. Farnsworth (Keenan Wynn), Vice President of Central Oil, meets with Elliot and during a game of golf, offers Elliot the high flying position of ‘Chairman Of The President’s Economic Committee’. There’s a small catch. Before Elliot can accept the position he has to clean up all the skeletons in his closet. Put simply, he has to dispose of the people who know all his dirty secrets that have helped him to the top – the four characters mentioned in the second paragraph of this review.

At this point, you’re probably saying ‘Gee David, this all seems rather complicated and political, what with wheeling and dealing between the White House and the oil companies!’ My response is ‘nah!’ It’s only complicated to make you think that Elliot is important. It really is an elaborate excuse to arrange some simple murders. As we’ve seen, the dictionary definition of ‘internecine’ is ‘mutally destructive’. So after all that overly complicated plotting at the beginning, we get to the heart of the movie. Elliot has to convince his four cohorts to kill each other – ‘mutal murder’.

The Internecine Project is a low key film compared to Coburn’s glossy espionage thrillers from the sixties, such as Our Man Flint, In Like Flint and The President’s Analyst; but as the story plays out, the tension slowly builds up, and what you’re left with is a taut little thriller.

The film has a lot to recommend it. It features another great moody score by Roy Budd, and has a fine cast of English character actors fleshing out the smaller roles. The story too, is engrossing. But this is a small film and not a particularly happy one at that. Coburn never breaks into his trademark grin and there is a sense of foreboding about the whole affair. If you choose to seek out The Internecine Project, be prepared for something quite different to the films that Coburn had done before.

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Funeral In Berlin (1966)

While I may have been slacking off over the Christmas break it appears that others have been working hard. One of those people is House, over at The Horror blogspot.

Here’s his take on the second of the Harry Palmer films – Funeral In Berlin.

I believe that Funeral In Berlin is a big step down from The IPCRESS File. But The IPCRESS File is a masterpiece, so slipping down a level brings you back to a bloody good film – and rest assured Funeral In Berlin is a good film.

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Rendition (2007)

Country: United States

Directed by Gavin Hood Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Omar Metwally, Peter Sarsgaard, Alan Arkin, Meryl Streep, Igal Naor
Music by Paul Hepker, Mark Kilian

Rendition is a very good, if slightly unsettling film. As an Australian, Rendition is a term that I am not really familiar with. Apparently it relates to a law that enables the American Government, in the interest of National Security to whisk away suspects, out of the country, where they can be interrogated without the usual legal rights. In this film, Rendition is presented as a rather brutal and barbaric way to extract information.

Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) is a successful American chemical engineer. When I say American, I mean that he has lived in America for twenty years after immigrating from Egypt. He was schooled in America and married a pretty American girl, Isabella (Reese Witherspoon). They have a son named Jeremy and another child is on the way. When we first meet Anwar he is in Cape Town, South Africa where he has just attended an engineering conference. He is now on his way to the airport to catch a flight back home to Chicago, via Washington.

Meanwhile in an un-named North African country, a new CIA section chief, named Dixon has taken over. Accompanied by a self confessed pen-pusher, Douglas Freeman, Dixon is on his way to meet the country’s chief of security, Abasi Fawal (Igal Naor). That morning an assassination attempt is made on Fawal. The sniper misses but kills a waiter. Fawal’s bodyguards quickly rush him out the back as a suicide bomber blows himself up in the city’s centre square. In their car, on the opposite side of the square are Dixon and Freeman, and when the bomb goes off, the blast hits the car, shatters the windows and kills Dixon. Taking responsibility for the attack is a group called El-hazim.

Back in Washington, US Security head, Corrine Whitman (Meryl Streep) receives a call in the middle of the night. She is briefed about the situation and authorises the Rendition of Anwar at Washington Airport. On his way through the terminal, to catch his connecting flight to Chicago, he is approached by a policewoman. She tells him that there is an emergency and he is to follow her, which he does. She leads him to an emergency exit, and once through the doors, he is pounced on by several agents, and a black bag placed over his head. The operatives then collect his luggage and delete his information from the passenger records. Anwar is spirited out of the country and delivered to Abasi Fawal in Northern Africa.

Also in Africa, Freeman, after Dixon’s death, is promoted to section head. At this time he is to act as a US observer as Fawal starts his own interrogation of Anwar. Fawal’s methods are slightly more primitive than the CIA’s, but the information that they have received indicates that Anwar El-Ibriahimi is a terrorist, and indirectly, is responsible for the recent terrorist attack in the city square. But allow me to flesh out the background story a bit more. The organisation, El-hazin claimed responsibility for the bombing, and the head man for them is a fellow called Rashis Salemi. Over the past two years Salemi has been behind a multitude of terrorist attacks, but only recently have his bombs become more sophisticated and powerful. Linking Salemi to Anwar is a series of telephone calls made on a mobile phone. As Anwar is a chemical engineer, the supposition is that he is the person who has been upgrading Salemi’s bombs. Anwar on the other hands, claims not to know who Salemi is, and the information must not be correct. But under Fawal’s brutal control, Anwar has no recourse. He is to be tortured until he talks. And if he doesn’t talk, well that’s just too bad.

But this storyline is just one of the many facets to this story. There are also two family based storylines running simultaneously. The first concerns Anwar’s wife, Isabella, who frantically starts searching for her missing husband, only to find she is cut off in every direction she tries to turn. The second strand examines the disappearance of Fawal’s daughter who has fallen in love with a young boy named Khalid, who happens to have fallen in with some Muslim extremists.

As I said from the outset, Rendition is a very good film and it is bolstered by an excellent cast. Although his name is down the list on the billing, Omar Metwally’s performance as Anwar holds the film together. The confusion, desperation and horror of the situation he goes through is heartbreaking to watch. The other actors also give good performances, notably Gyllenhaal as the torment CIA operative, Witherspoon as the frustrated wife who gets no answers and Streep as the ice-cold bitch who does what she has to, in the interests of National Security.

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Special Mission Lady Chaplin (1966)

AKA: Operation Lady Chaplin
Country: Spain / Italy / France
Director: Alberto De Martino
Starring: Ken Clark, Daniella Bianchi, Jacques Bergerac, Phillipe Hersent, Evelyn Stewart, Mabel Karr, Helga Liné
Music: Bruno Nicolai
Song, ‘Lady Chaplin’, sung by Bobby Solo

What is it that attracts the worlds spy story tellers to scorpions? Just of the top of my head I know there are two Bond films with scorpions – Diamonds Are Forever and Die Another Day, coincidentally both made after this flick. Then there’s The Scorpio Letters and Scorpio – okay no actual scorpions but playing on the image of the scorpion. Modesty Blaise has a giant scorpion tattoo on her leg in Joseph Losey’s 1966 film. If you look at books, John Gardner had a Bond continuation novel called Scorpius (can’t remember the story but I don’t think there were any scorpions – I seem to recall a lot of snakes though); and Anthony Horrowitz, in this Alex Rider series had Scorpia – lots and lots of scorpions, yeah! Why is the scorpion such a potent espionage symbol? I don’t know really, but I thought that was a good way to kick off the review for Special Mission Lady Chaplin which features a madman who keeps pet scorpions.

The film is actually the third film in the Ken Clark 077 films, and as I would have mentioned previously, despite the large amount of films marketed with 077 in their title, there are only actually three films in the series. This entry opens with a nun driving a Citroen delivery van up a winding mountain road to a monastery. Two monks greet her as she brings in a basket of fresh linen. She places the basket on a table and removes some of the items. Underneath she has hidden a machine gun, which she grabs, turns and fires, mowing down the monks. She then searches the monastery until she finds a cabinet with a large radio transmitter. She blasts the radio to hell and then, her mission complete, leaves the scene. Unbeknownst to the machine gun wielding nun, there was actually a third monk, who was outside when she arrived. He survives her onslaught and slips away safely.

The surviving monk makes his way to the US Embassy in Madrid and bargains for immunity with a dog tag from a US Naval Officer. As you may have guessed, this man is not really a monk, and you’re probably wondering why would a dog tag be important. It just so happens that it belonged to an officer on the US Thresher, which was a submarine that sank twelve months previously. It went down in water so deep that it could not be salvaged. The Thresher also happened to be carrying sixteen Polaris missiles. Now if the sub was too deep to be salvaged, then how did the officers dog tag reach the surface? And that’s just exactly the question that Heston (Phillipe Hersent), the Head of the CIA wants answered. To get answers he turns to his top man, Dick Malloy, Agent 077.

Malloy is immediately shunted off to make contact with the surviving monk and retrieve the dog tag. As soon as he makes contact, a man in a black turtle neck pops up with a gun and tries to kill the monk. Malloy intervenes and the first of many chases takes place.

The nun who performed the hit at the monastery happens to be Arabel Chaplin (Daniella Bianchi), who is a master of disguise. She works for a slimy fellow called Kobra Zoltan (Jacques Bergerac). Zoltan just happens to run the world’s largest salvage company and is the only person who could have possibly reached the Thresher. He immediately becomes a prime suspect in Malloy’s investigations.

The third and in some ways finest of the 077 series is buoyed by the addition of Daniela Bianchi to the cast as the mysterious Lady Chaplin. Is she a good girl or a bad girl? Well it doesn’t really matter – during her scenes she is fine clothes horse, outfitted by some lurid creations by Casa d’Alta Moda. While this film clearly has a larger budget than the first two films in the series, the money appears to have gone solely to the very splashy wardrobes of the female stars. But sadly for poor old Ken Clark, the star of the series, he gets lumped with a set of trousers that are clearly too short for his lanky frame.

As with most Eurospy films, Special Mission Lady Chaplin benefits greatly from the location shooting for the outdoor action sequences. Rest assured that the interiors were filmed in Italy, but this story visits locations as diverse as New York, the Costa Del Sol, Madrid, London, Paris and finally Morocco. All in all, Special Mission Lady Chaplin is a pretty tight little thriller. As you’d expect from a film of this vintage, some of the ideas are a bit outlandish, but this film certainly isn’t as silly as many of it’s contemporaries.

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