Think it was mainly the hair, with maybe a dash of the eyes that did it but his stance and face shaped were somewhat uncannily Clint Eastwood at times too. Never noticed it before, well it never crossed my mind when he starred along Frank Sinatra in The Manchurian Candidate but here in A Dandy in Aspic I just kept seeing Clint in Laurence Harvey’s performance. Probably just me though?
Laurence Harvey plays a British counter-espionage agent called Eberlin. A spy with a James Bond esque demeanor. He’s cool, calculating and a real charmer with the ladies. However, where he differs from Bond, is our Eberlin is desperate, could he be concealing a secret?
Tagline – A Double Agent in Double Danger!
Eberlin is assigned a mission to assassinate a KGB agent called Krasnevin who has managed to kill British spies. Looking over Eberlin’s shoulder is the eccentric and ruthless agent Gatiss (Tom Courtenay) who’s kind of like a spy hunter general. One step behind Eberlin, scrutinising his every move, waiting, eager for a mistake to be made. Eberlin will need all his espionage training and wits to stay ahead of this game of cat and mouse. But first things first, he needs to please a few ladies along the way.
First the love struck “Miss Moneypenny” and then the mysterious photographer Caroline (Mia Farrow) who happens to appear everywhere Eberlin seems to be. She’s friendly and fancy free, sexy but innocent, could there be more to her than meets the eye?
The journey takes us from the back streets and high rise flats of London to maneuvers through East and West Berlin. Interesting characters are situated throughout the story from the likes of Charlie’s Angels Lionel Stander who plays Sobakevich, Peter Cook gives a lightheart performance as agent Prentiss and other classic faces from the likes of Norman Bird, Harry Andrews and Calvin Lockhart pop up along the way.
To be honest this film ticks every box for me as I’m a sucker for Cold War spy dramas and tales of counter-espionage and double agents. Panic ridden spies trying to get out of mess which is being created behind them, curious and secretive characters going about their cloak and dagger business. Danger lurking around every single dark corner, the fear of the chase being caught in the eyes of the agents. British and Soviet intelligence officers going about their everyday business of brinkmanship. This film has it all BUT unfortunately A Dandy in Aspic doesn’t quite pull it off, it’s just becomes a bit of a mess.
The film is directed by legendary Anthony Mann from an adaption of a novel by Derek Marlowe but very sadly Mann suffered a heart attack before the film was finished and directing was passed on to star Laurence Harvey. I wouldn’t know what was finished by whom but the last half hour or so to me is where it all falls apart. Up to then I was really enjoying the film, to me the Berlin scenes hit a bit of a stumbling block. Saying that, it’s still a good film, it has a dark brooding feel which is lighten somewhat by the sixties themes and colours and a few slightly comic performances. It’s very much worth tracking down if you have a love for Cold War dramas, however this could of been so much more. What are you thoughts if you have seen it? Do you have any info to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.
Oh just to add, the opening title sequence featuring a very creative trippy dance between a puppet on a string and the master hand very much in control to the frenzied soundtrack by Quincy Jones is genius.
Sorry for the lack of posts this week, I’ve been in World Cup mode. Hope to be back to normal now with more movies I’ve enjoyed coming soon. Many thanks for reading… Mikey Wolf.