Donald is gonna think I’m stalking him! This is the third film in a row with the versatile, dependable Mr Pleasence and this time it was purely by chance as I didn’t know he was in it. What a great surprise. Cul-De-Sac was first then Ground Zero.
Was ticking this one off the list mainly because of Charles Bronson and second being that it’s a Don Siegel movie I knew about but wondered if I had actually seen it. I hadn’t and I can report that it’s a fine piece of 70’s drama.
Russian saboteurs within the United States had been placed as sleeper cells at strategic positions around America during the height of the Cold War. Without really knowing it they were hypnotised to go on a suicide mission by a command signal setting them off like the Manchurian Candidate. This message is sent by telephone and consists of a phrase from a poem by Robert Frost called ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’.
Tagline – They’ll do anything to stop Telefon. The operation that can trigger 51 human time bombs.
Suddenly they are set off one by one blowing stuff up left right and centre. One minute casually fixing a car as a mechanic the next minute you’re plowing through barriers to decommissioned army barracks and blowing up the building. And they just keep coming, hitting targets all over the place. What’s scary is the fact that theres 51 sleepers ready to be activated!
Who could be doing this? really there can only be one person so dastardly, so ruthless, that it has to be Donald Pleasence playing a disgruntled rogue KGB agent called Nicolai Dalchimsky who has acquired a little black book filled with all the agents addresses and most importantly to him, their phone numbers.
Tagline – Your next phone call may be your last!
Who can stop this madman who could actually start world war 3? Well step up Mr Charles Bronson as Russian Major Grigori Borzov, an experienced officer within the KGB with photographic memory superpower. He gets to memorise a copy of the black book before he is sent to the USA to track down and stop Nicolai.
What name does this Russian super agent go by? “Gary“! Gary meets up with a sassy CIA agent Barbara played by Lee Remick and she is greeted with the line.
“For an American agent you’re not entirely repulsive!”
There’s lots of great banter and sly spy work chemistry between Gary and Barbara as they try to figure each other out whilst tracking down Nicolai Dalchimsky. Can these two agents work together to bring down this rogue agent on a destructive path trying to start a world war? You have to get this on the watch list to find out if you haven’t seen it already.
On a side note – Criminally under used in a wonderful little part, is Tyne Daly from Cagney and Lacey fame playing a super brained boffin, CIA computer expert called Dorothy Putterman. Would liked to see more of her used. She was never better than Kate Moore in The Enforcer annoying Harry Callahan.