Re: The 60s Bond Rivals (2): Harry Palmer

A reboot would be interesting... not sure if it should be period or current. But definitely interesting.

I've never heard of the BBC Radio 4 adaptation, I'll have to search that out. Thanks!


Re: The 60s Bond Rivals (2): Harry Palmer

caractacus potts wrote:

for those of you in Toronto:
The IPCRESS File is going to be up on the big screen, Thurs March 26 2020!
at the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles (which is a mighty civilised neighbourhood)
more info

This screening has been cancelled (hopefully postponed) because of coronavirus.
Too bad, I was looking forward to finally seeing The IPCRESS File, more than Bond25.
But I was already planning not to go, so I'm not surprised they decided to shut the theatre.


Re: The 60s Bond Rivals (2): Harry Palmer

I finally got the chance to watch the IPCRESS file!
Still I'd rather have seen it on the bigscreen with a lecture beforehand. damn you coronavirus!!!

This is an excellent adaptation capturing the spirit of the book and most of the plot.
The cluttered, asymmetric, almost random compositions capture both the effect of Raymond Hawkey's cover artwork and Deighton's writing style.
Ken Adam is prominently credited for Production Design work on the film, yet I see none of the sparse futuristic set design I associate with him. Was he responsible for the grey shabby locations and the sense of clutter? Its the brainwashing scenes that look most like typical Adam (sound effects courtesy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop).

and I think its really cool Saltzman himself set out to make a spy film as opposite to Bond as could be imagined. Basically cornering both ends of the spyfilm market.

The plot drops the two foreign digressions and sort of adapts the main plotpoints of those scenes to London. I think they make even less sense relocated.
Also the girlfriend is introduced in a different way, already working for Dalby when Palmer first arrives, and she is apparently a mole within the department. Leading to the excellent dialog as they seduce each other: "I'm working for Dalby, you're working for Ross." "No you're working for Ross, I'm working for Dalby."

A couple plotpoints I still don't understand:

SpoilerWhy did Dalby negotiate the return of the last scientist? By doing so, it was revealed the scientist had been brainwashed, which would have remained unknown otherwise.


SpoilerWho had Palmer captured on the train? Dalby tells him to disappear, I don't think Palmer tells him he'll be taking the train. Palmer tells his girlfriend, she tells Ross. So Ross knows where he is but Dalby doesn't

Last edited by caractacus potts (23rd Jun 2020 15:44)


Re: The 60s Bond Rivals (2): Harry Palmer

I agree- The IPCRESS File is a stylish and gritty alternative thriller that exists happily alongside Bond without outright parodying it, like so many other 60s spy capers do.

I also profess some enjoyment of the 1971 Ken Russell entry Billion Dollar Brain, the dictionary definition of the word 'weird'. Worth a watch if you want to see what a Bond film laden with odd direction, portentous symbolism and slow, almost dreamy action might be like...

Though some would say that particular Bond film already exists and is called SPECTRE  ajb007/lol


Re: The 60s Bond Rivals (2): Harry Palmer

Last night I watched Billion Dollar Brain!

Unfortunately I cant find Funeral in Berlin anywhere online, doubly too bad since BDB is sort of a sequel to FiB, in that a couple of the major characters reappear.
(Billion Dollar Brain is on Dailymotion *, a slightly dodgier alternative to youtube )

I think only Maurice Binder and Syd Cain are involved from our gang. Binder does some very trippy titles based on digital database type imagery, and Syd Cain  contributes a classic villains headquarters, complete with sliding doors and hundreds of minions.

Director is Ken Russell, who I only knew from Tommy and Altered States, but  I've seen images from his other films, which usually seem to be some Aubrey Beardsley inspired decadence. He slips a bit of such imagery into this film too, and is allround very visually selfindulgent, maybe comparable to Terry Gilliam without the jokes, completely obscuring what is already a confusing plot. Great shots of Helsinki though.

Villain is played by Ed Begley, but the film is dominated by Karl Malden as Harvey Newbegin (now renamed Leo, perhaps so as not to be confused with Harry?). Hey he was the villain in that Matt Helm film I just watched last week! I think of Karl Malden as one of Brando's very serious method actor collaborators, so its a surprise to see him hamming it up in these mid60s SpyCraze flicks. He is much better here than in Murderers Row, a completely untrustworthy con-artist who is himself a tragic dupe.

The Texo-fascist imagery at the villains American compound is rather disturbing, just glad thats only make-believe and could never happen in real life! right? right? ...er, right? Well, probably safest to say it's only make-believe, I don't want any trouble.
Still, the film ends with...

Spoilera privately funded  American invasion of Latvia being defeated by the Soviets, and made to literally disappear without a trace under the icefloes

..and thats meant to be a happy ending. Well it is, but that's rather subversive stuff for a spyfilm at the height of the Cold War!

One image I spotted that was borrowed by Austin Powers: Palmer meets Newbegin and his ladyfriend in a sauna where they're both naked and he's not. Newbegin is letting it all hang out as he talks to Palmer, and the shot is composed so Palmer's head is blocking from our view the naughty bits even he doesn't want to have to look at.

Last edited by caractacus potts (25th Jul 2020 17:41)


Re: The 60s Bond Rivals (2): Harry Palmer

BDB is a guilty pleasure for me; I know it's not as good as the first 2 (or isn't generally reckoned to be) but I really enjoy it. Caine goes without saying, and the colourful characters make up for a plot in which Palmer doesn't really do very much (most of the plot could take place without him). Love the score!


Re: The 60s Bond Rivals (2): Harry Palmer

Michael Caine does a lot of standing calmly and staring back ironically while the supporting actors ham it up!
and plotwise I think you're right, Colonel Stok has it all under control, he doesn't even have to ask Palmer if he's learned anything while undercover, just advises him to keep out of the way.

I didn't mention Stok in my film report. Oscar Homolka hams it up beautifully, and brings to life my favourite character from the books.


Re: The 60s Bond Rivals (2): Harry Palmer

Exactly, totally agree. Caine's standing calmly and looking ironic is exactly like the (unnamed) character from the books, and Homolka just is Stok.


Re: The 60s Bond Rivals (2): Harry Palmer

It's a while since I watched it, but Palmer does do his usual thing of letting the protagonists tie themselves in knots while he does a quiet little clever thing, doesn't he? I do rather like the idea of the plot though- a private army lead by a madman who thinks he's doing good but will actually start a proper war. And all of the 60s trappings are really nice: the opening sequence and credits are fantastic, with that lovely bit of Richard Rodney Bennett.

I kind of enjoy it but it does have a pretty massive flat spot where not much happens and my interest dips. Give me Funeral In Berlin any day: I just think that's the best one.