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Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Dandy In Aspic (1968)

In this cold war thriller, a Russian double agent (Laurence Harvey) working for British intelligence is tired of the spy game and desires to return to the Soviet Union but his request is denied by the KGB. Things become complicated when the Brits hand him his next assignment ... kill the Soviet agent Krasnevin. The problem? Harvey is Krasnevin. This was the final film of Anthony Mann who died before the film was completed. Harvey took over the directorial reins and finished the film. It's hard to tell how much is Mann and how much is Harvey as the film isn't typical of Mann's filmography. As a spy thriller, it's very good despite the lifeless performance by Harvey. When he snaps at Tom Courtenay, "You haven't an ounce of emotion in you!", I couldn't help but chuckle. Courtenay makes up for Harvey's ennui and while any opportunity to see Mia Farrow (who looks wonderful in her Pierre Cardin costumes) on screen is a treat, she's wasted here in the "girl" role with nothing to do but climb into bed with Harvey. The bleak view of a bankrupt espionage world presages Huston's THE KREMLIN LETTER. The effective score is by Quincy Jones. With Peter Cook, Per Oscarsson, Harry Andrews, Lionel Stander and in a particularly bad performance, Calvin Lockhart.

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