His spymaster superiors don't much like cheeky, insubordinate Harry Palmer, but he seems to get results. In fact he's quickly in too deep. Brainwashed and disoriented, can he still locate and shoot the traitor in his own organization?
This was intended as a darker, "not James Bond" spy thriller. In many ways that's true: Harry is a working class cockney recruited from an army prison. He hates the bosses who want to drown him in paperwork. The intelligence agencies waste their time spying on other. This is in gray rainy London, not sunny exotic locales.
On the other hand, like 007, Harry can fight, shoot and find the bad guys. He's cultured and likes women and good food. The studio complained that he did his own cooking, which an action hero is not supposed to do. And why is he wearing glasses?
And look who is making the film: one of the same producers as for Bond, same editor and art designers. Even John Barry for the score, with themes suggestive of the moodier Bond bits, and with what sounds like a cross between surf guitar and the zither from The Third Man (1949).
- It made Michael Caine a star.
- A supermarket is called -- with disapproval -- "an American shopping method".
- The agencies waste a lot of time, but when needed they show clockwork spycraft, as when paying ransom for a kidnapped scientist.
The thumbnails are from an all-region Blu-ray imported from the UK. The label is ITV, the encoding mpeg2, and the framerate the oddball 24.0hz. Black levels are not very good, but detail is acceptable given the large amount of grain in this one.