Category Archives: Spy movies

The Mind Benders (1963) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

Dirk Bogarde is the troubled scientist at the centre of this suspense drama combining espionage, brainwashing, sensory deprivation chambers and domestic navel gazing that often feels like a rich inverted pudding, light on the bottom and heavy on top. This … Continue reading

Posted in Basil Dearden, Cold War, DVD Review, Espionage, Oxford, Scene of the crime, Spy movies, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 20 Comments

Top 20 Spy movies

The release of Ben Affleck’s smart historical satire Argo, based loosely on the true extraction by the CIA and Canadian officials of six American Embassy staff members out of Tehran in 1980, made me reflect on the spy genre as … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, Adam Hall, Alfred Hitchcock, Amnesia, Billy Wilder, Brian de Palma, Cold War, Elleston Trevor, Eric Ambler, Espionage, Film Noir, George Smiley, Ian Fleming, James Bond, John Frankenheimer, John le Carre, Len Deighton, London, Michael Powell, New York, Paris, Quiller, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | 76 Comments

Telefon (1977)

This adaptation of the 1975 spy novel by Walter Wager has a great central gimmick and features the unlikely pairing of granite-faced action hero Charles Bronson and high-class beauty Lee Remick under the take-no-prisoners direction of Don Siegel. It often … Continue reading

Posted in Amnesia, Cold War, Espionage, Los Angeles, Moscow, Scene of the crime, Spy movies, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged | 35 Comments

Skyfall – five star movie review

Yes, the title of this post does rather give things away – I loved the new Bond movie. Have you been to see Skyfall yet? You really should. In the UK the new 007 adventure, the first in 4 years, came … Continue reading

Posted in Espionage, Five Star review, James Bond, London, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | Tagged | 40 Comments

Fifty shades of James Bond

Tomorrow is ‘International James Bond Day’, not actually a national holiday yet but I’m sure it’ll catch on eventually. It’s part of a coordinated media blitz celebrating the 50 years on screen of ‘the world’s favourite secret agent’. I’m starting … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, 'In praise of ...', Espionage, Ian Fleming, James Bond, Spy movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Spaceways (1953)

An engaging if curious genre hybrid, this is a patchwork movie combining Cold War espionage, a murder mystery and two love triangles in a science fiction setting – and all on the tightest of budgets. Unpretentious and fun, this British … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Espionage, Hammer Studios, Science Fiction, Spy movies, Terence Fisher, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , | 24 Comments

James Bond teases in SKYFALL

Well, the Leveson inquiry continues and the appalling Murdochs and their apparatchiks have yet to fold, but at least we now have a couple of proper teasers for the new Bond movie. First there is the poster, which displays very … Continue reading

Posted in Espionage, James Bond, London, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | 1 Comment

CALL FOR THE DEAD (1961) by John le Carré

The recent film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré, with its impressive rogues gallery of character actors and a mesmerising central turn by Gary Oldman as George Smiley, has re-ignited interest in the series of Cold … Continue reading

Posted in Columbo, Espionage, George Smiley, John le Carre, London, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | 8 Comments

Film Top 10: Surprise Villains

O Henry was considered to be the original master of the twist ending in his popular short stories, at least in the sense that this is what he became famous for – and certainly there are a great many movies … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, Agatha Christie, Columbo, DVD Review, Film Noir, Giallo, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome, Spy movies, Top 10 | 10 Comments

THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM (1965) by Adam Hall

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog this week reaches the letter Q, and my nomination, is …

THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM by Adam Hall

“As I walked back to the hotel the only tracks in the snow were my own.”

1965 was a vintage year for espionage. At the cinema Sean Connery was James Bond for the fourth, and most financially successful, time in Thunderball, Michael Caine was ‘Harry Palmer’ in Len Deighton’s The Ipcress File, John le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold was filmed with Richard Burton and Rod Taylor was John Gardner’s The Liquidator; while on TV, Diana Rigg joined Patrick Macnee in The Avengers and The Man from UNCLE went from black and white into colour – and, perhaps the best of their kind, in the UK there was Patrick McGoohan as John Drake in Danger Man and all over the globe one could find I Spy starring Bill Cosby and the late Robert Culp – in fact the genre was doing so well that parodies were already popular, with Carry On Spying (1964) already a hit at the cinemas and Get Smart and Wild Wild West were just getting started on TV.This was also the year that Elleston Trevor as ‘Adam Hall’ began publishing the adventures of his secret agent ‘Quiller’. The first book in the series was originally published in the UK as The Berlin Memorandum but the title was altered under its better known variation The Quiller Memorandum for the US release and as it was also used for the popular movie version, that is how it best known today. Continue reading

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The Mind Benders (1963)

THE MIND BENDERS (1963) is an unusual suspense drama, combining as it does a variety of different generic elements, one of Britain’s biggest box office draws now making the transition to more character-based parts and an overall earnestness that leaves one in no doubt of its seriousness of intent. The film came from the team of director Basil Dearden and producer Michael Relph, already known for tackling a variety of topical themes such as race relations (SAPPHIRE in 1959 and, via Shakespeare’s Othello, ALL NIGHT LONG in 1962), medical ethics and religious freedom (LIFE FOR RUTH, 1962) and the UK’s homosexuality laws (VICTIM, 1961) and using the conventions of the thriller and suspense drama to make them more palatable to broad audiences. In that sense it certainly fulfills many of the criteria for the perfect Sunday afternoon viewing, though perhaps compared with their earlier productions one can discern a greater degree of effort in streamlining this story to fit a more commercial genre template. Continue reading

Posted in DVD Review, Spy movies | 3 Comments