INNOCENT BYSTANDERS (director: Peter Collinson; screenwriter: from the novel by James Mitchell; cinematographer: Brian Probyn; editor: Alan Pattillo; music: Johnny Keating; cast: Stanley Baker (John Craig), Geraldine Chaplin (Miriam Loman), Dana Andrews (Blake), Vladek Sheybal (Aaron Kaplan), Donald Pleasence (Loomis), Sue Lloyd (Joanna Benson), Derren Nesbitt (Andrew Royce), Warren Mitchell (Omar), Ferdy Mayne (Marcus Kaplan); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: George H. Brown; Sagittarius Productions (Paramount Pictures); 1972-UK)
“A high-quota of sadism and gore.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A confusing but entertaining 1960s Bond-like defector spy thriller. It’s stylishly directed by the uneven Brit filmmaker Peter Collinson(“Ten Little Indians”/”The Italian Job“/”The Spiral Staircase”).He fills it with a high-quota of sadism and gore. The spy thriller is well-produced but still routine fare. It’s written by James Mitchell from his novel.
A brilliant Russian scientist Aaron Kaplan (Vladek Sheybal), noted for his desalination experiments, escapes from Siberia and is hunted down in an international manhunt by KGB, CIA and MI5. The action moves from London to NYC to Turkey to Cypress. Aging British agent John Craig (Stanley Baker) goes to NY to contact the scientist’s brother Marcus (Ferdy Mayne) and also meets the naive American ward of Marcus, Miriam (Geraldine Chaplin), whom he kidnaps and takes to Turkey to help track the missing scientist. Meanwhile Craig’s young replacement agent decoys, playing a snappy couple, (Sue Lloyd and Derren Nesbitt), on orders of spy boss (Donald Pleasence) find there way to Turkey and follow Craig to Cypress. The possibility exists the valued scientist was allowed to escape to become a Soviet agent. It’s the over-the-hill Baker’s call whether to rescue or kill him.
Dana Andrews is good, as he always is, as he plays the American CIA chief. Geraldine Chaplin is fabulous as the delicate female who can restore Baker’s former confidence by just holding hands with him. Warren Mitchell is lively as a conniving Turkish hotel keeper, with some kind of comical Aussie-Turkish accent.
Baker is excellent as the conflicted spy, once the top spy, who has lost his powers and broods. He proves here he would have been an interesting choice as Bond if given the chance as rumored. Baker died in 1976, at age 48.
REVIEWED ON 4/27/2016 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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