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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Innocent Bystanders (1972)

A burnt out British secret agent (Stanley Baker) is assigned to track down the whereabouts of a Russian defector (Vladek Sheybal, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE). It won't be easy because in addition to being double crossed by the head of the department (Donald Pleasence, the very model of soullessness), he must find the defector before the Americans and Russians do. This ultra violent (for 1972) pulpy spy thriller is based on a novel by James Mitchell, who also wrote the screenplay, that echoes the James Bond movies of the era though it's more like a Harry Palmer movie on amphetamines. Outside of a confusing prologue (an escape from a Soviet prison camp) and an awkward romantic scene between Baker and Geraldine Chaplin, it moves along as efficiently as a well oiled piece of machinery. I suppose that's a compliment of sorts but who enjoys watching machinery at work? There are a few "twists" along the ride though most of them are predictable. The typical 1970s pop/jazz fusion score is by Johnny Keating. Directed by Peter Collinson (THE ITALIAN JOB). With Dana Andrews, Sue Lloyd (quite the most likable character in the film), Derren Nesbitt, Ferdy Mayne and Warren Mitchell.

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