HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Lodgers, The
Eagle vs Shark
American Assassin
Die, Mommie, Die!
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
   
 
Newest Articles
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
   
 
  Catch Me a Spy Never trust a waiter with a chiseled chinBuy this film here.
Year: 1971
Director: Dick Clement
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Marlène Jobert, Trevor Howard, Tom Courtenay, Patrick Mower, Bernadette Lafont, Bernard Blier, Sacha Pitoëff, Richard Pearson, Garfield Morgan, Angharad Rees, Isabel Dean
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, Romance
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Fabienne (Marlène Jobert), an Anglo-French schoolteacher living in London, is swept off her feet by charming James Fenton (Patrick Mower) unaware he is actually a spy. The newlyweds spend their honeymoon in Bucharest where a shifty Hungarian waiter (Kirk Douglas) hides a mysterious package inside James' suitcase. The next thing they know James is arrested on espionage charges and handed to the Russians. Fabienne cajoles her uncle Sir Trevor Dawson (Trevor Howard), a British minister, into trading a captured KGB agent for James. Unfortunately the exchange goes awry when the fat Russian falls into an icy lake. Distraught, Fabienne endeavours to use her feminine wiles to entrap the 'waiter' who is now active in London and seemingly up to no good.

British comedy scribes Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais have an impeccable track record on television (e.g. Porridge, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Lovejoy) along with an impressive run of film scripts including The Committments (1991), Still Crazy (1998) and The Bank Job (2008). Alas, Clement's directing career is largely a catalogue of misfires that includes Catch Me a Spy. Adapted from a novel written by George Marton and Hungarian journalist Tibor Meray, this meandering farce aims for something along the lines of Stanley Donen's delightful comedy-thriller Charade (1963). Unfortunately that kind of effervescent tone was much harder to pull off in the dour and gritty Seventies. Much like Cary Grant in Donen's movie, here Kirk Douglas portrays a charming but ambiguous character who inveigles his way into the heroine's life but whose actions keep her and the audience unsure as to whether he is friend or foe. Rarely able to pull off light comedy, Douglas' steely-eyed intensity does not gel with the lighthearted tone the film seems to strive for. Whenever he barks at Fabienne the viewer feels genuinely concerned for her safety.

Most critics seem to agree that Douglas was miscast but Catch Me a Spy has other problems besides him. The plot meanders here, there and everywhere in search of suspense, romance and laughter that never sparks. Clement and La Frenais throw in some mild satire of bumbling British diplomacy but despite a handful of dry witticisms much of the humour falls flat. Or else descends into trite bedroom farce or heavy-handed slapstick. Tom Courtenay, sporting a shaggy mane and reunited with the team behind his previous spy comedy Otley (1968), wrings some mild amusement from his role as an MI6 file clerk turned reluctant field agent briefly smitten with Fabienne. As was the case with her role in René Clement's (no relation to Dick, one presumes) similarly-themed Rider on the Rain (1971), French actress Marlène Jobert is a charmingly winsome presence despite an unflattering 'shag' haircut and succession of eccentric early Seventies outfits. Among the ensemble cast she alone seems to grasp the playful nature of the script.

However too much of the humour serves as a sobering reminder of how long ago the Seventies truly were, including throwaway rape jokes, homophobia, stale observations about the supposed unattractiveness of Russian women and a cavalier attitude to adultery. Cult film fans may have more fun spotting familiar faces among the supporting cast who include French New Wave staples Bernadette Lafont, Bernard Blier and Sacha Pitoëff and Hammer horror starlet Angharad Rees who gets to make out with Kirk. On the plus side Claude Bolling contributes a lovely score.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 123 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: