HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Await Further Instructions
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
In Order of Disappearance
Charlotte's Web
Meg, The
Christmas Blood
Equalizer 2, The
1985
Mowgli
Ski School
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Age of Shadows, The
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Othello
First Reformed
Red White and Zero
Death Wish
Cry Wilderness
Heiresses, The
Millhouse: A White Comedy
Skyscraper
Born of Fire
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Lucia
Yanks
Sweet November
Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The
Real Men
Shoplifters
Redeemer
   
 
Newest Articles
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
A Name to Conjure With: David Nixon's Magic Box on DVD
Which 1950s Sci-Fi was Scariest? Invaders from Mars vs The Blob
The Empire Strikes Back: Khartoum vs Carry On Up the Khyber
Stan and Ollie's Final Folly: Atoll K on Blu-ray
The Big Grapple: Escape from New York and Its Influence
The Conquest of Everett: The Kenny Everett Video Show on DVD
Bout for the Count: Hammer's Dracula in the 1970s
Nopes from a Small Island: Mistreatment of American Stars in British Films
You Know, For Kids: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box
If He Were a Carpenter and It Was the 80s: The Fog, Prince of Darkness and They Live
Tee-Hee, It's 80s Sci-Fi Horror: Night of the Comet, The Stuff and Night of the Creeps
Chance of a Ghost: The Uninvited and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
3 Simian Slashers: Phenomena, Link and Monkey Shines
When is a Jackie Chan Movie Not a Jackie Chan Movie? Armour of God and City Hunter
   
 
  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 369 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 star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Stately Wayne Manor
George White
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
Rashed Ali
   

 

Last Updated: