WHERE THE SPIES ARE
(director/writer: Val Guest; screenwriters: Wolf Mankowitz/from the novel Passport to Oblivion by James Leasor; cinematographer: Arthur Grant; editor: Bill Lenny; music: Mario Nascimbene; cast: David Niven (Dr. Jason Love), Francoise Dorleac (Vikki), John Le Mesurier (Chief MacGillivray), Cyril Cusack (Rosser), Eric Pohlmann (Farouk), Nigel Davenport (Parkington), Paul Stassino(Simmias), Ronald Radd (Stanilaus); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Steve Pallos/Val Guest; MGM; 1965-UK)
“A mildly entertaining comical spy spoof hoping to cash in on the James Bond rage in the 1960s.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A mildly entertaining comical spy spoof hoping to cash in on the James Bond rage in the 1960s, as it casts the suave David Niven in the Bond-like role. It did not do well at the box office and thereby plans for a sequel were canceled. After a slow start, the talky film picks up steam and does a good job with the spy stuff. Writer-director Val Guest (“The Day the Earth Caught Fire”/”Expresso Bongo”/”Carry on Admiral”)and co-writerWolf Mankowitz adapt it from the novel Passport to Oblivion by James Leasor.
The Brit MI6 agent Rosser (Cyril Cusack), posing as a doctor attending a malaria conference in Beirut, disappears without a trace and the spy agency Intelligence head MacGillivray (John Le Mesurier), in London, enlists through a bribe a WW II lowly Intelligence officer, who served under him but whom he does not remember, to be his man in Beirut because he needs a spy who is a doctor. The fun-loving, adventurous and mild-mannered country-dwelling Dr. Jason Love (David Niven) agrees to attend that conference during his vacation and to find out what happened to the missing spy and what important cable he sent before vanishing. The reluctant spy, whose dearest possession is a 1937 super-charged Cord Phaeton convertible, is promised by MacGillivray as payment for his service another rare vintage car–the 1937 Chrysler LeBaron the vintage car lover pines for. Not told how dangerous this mission really is, Dr. Love is issued a spy kit that includes a pen that shoots a Novocaine dart and a micro-transmitter hidden in his tooth. Before reaching Beirut, Dr. Love stops over at Rome and at the airport a beautiful French spy, posing as a fashion model, Vikki (Francoise Dorleac), is the contact he meets by exchanging passwords. The amateur spy luckily avoids boarding a plane en route to Beirut from Rome that goes down when a bomb explodes, one that was meant for him, by canceling his flight for a later one as he flirts with the pretty spy.
In Beirut, Dr. Love teams up with crusty hard-drinking career MI6 agent Parkington (Nigel Davenport) and they learn that Rosser was kidnapped by Soviet agents and killed after sending the cable about an upcoming assassination attempt on the pro- British Middle Eastern prince–someone vital to their country because he supplies them with more than half their oil supply.
After stopping the assassination attempt on the prince, escaping from the mob in a daring helicopter rescue, Love is kidnapped by ruthless Soviet agents and is taken aboard their plane to Moscow. Love must now deal with a double-agent, being tortured and finding a way of escaping from the plane over Canada when it’s forced down without a shot being fired.
Rising star Dorleac was the older sister of Catherine Deneuve , who in 1967 was killed at age 25 when her sports car crashed in Nice, France.
REVIEWED ON 1/28/2012 GRADE: B