Monday, January 16, 2012


In the 60s, thanks to James Bond, secret agents were all the rage in the movies, and studios were searching for actors and characters who could fuel film franchises--Dean Martin as Matt Helm, James Coburn as Derek Flint, Monica Vitti as Modesty Blaise. This film drags the British character of Bulldog Drummond into the psychedelic era. In a series of movies that extended from the late 20s into the early 50s, he was a former military man turned amateur detective, usually with a fiancée and a comic relief sidekick. Here, played by Richard Johnson, he's an insurance investigator; there's no steady girlfriend but there is a bumbling sidekick, a cute blond nephew (Steve Carlson, pictured above with Johnson) who's back from an extended stay in the States, and it's Carlson who gets into trouble with the females--including one scene of tied-up shirtless torture. Of course, as the title warns, all women are potentially dangerous here, and the two chief baddies are Elke Sommer and Sylvia Koscina, emissaries of an evil corporation (headed by Nigel Green) which sells its services, no questions asked, to companies who are having trouble getting megadeals sealed; their solution usually involves Sommer and Koscina assassinating someone. For a relatively low-budget film, this is surprisingly enjoyable. Johnson, who was on the short list to play Bond before Sean Connery got the part, is good, the women are sexy, and there are a few cool setpieces: a cigar that, when lit, fires a spear backward through the smoker's head; Sommer and Koscina, in bikinis, wielding harpoons; and a climactic battle on a life-sized chess set. Scott Walker sings the very Bondian theme. The widescreen print on the DVD is quite nice. [DVD]

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