HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Shazam!
Follow Me
Leto
Fugitive Girls
Missing Link
Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The
Pet Sematary
Oh... Rosalinda!!
Dumbo
Kaleidoscope
Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang, The
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
Klute
Meow
Killer Crocodile
Nutcracker Prince, The
Secret World of Og, The
Benjamin
Fifth Cord, The
Man Could Get Killed, A
Cyborg 009: Kaiju War
Heavy Trip
Nightmare Weekend
Blue Ice
Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, The
Incident, The
Hell's Angels
Heaven and Earth
Flatliners
Us
mid90s
Holiday
Lovin' Molly
Manhunt in the City
Click: The Calendar Girl Killer
Teen Witch
Devil's Brigade, The
Luck & Logic
Duel of the Masters
   
 
Newest Articles
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
Things Have Changed: Films You'd Be Insane to Make Now
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
   
 
  Billion Dollar Brain Breaking The IceBuy this film here.
Year: 1967
Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Michael Caine, Karl Malden, Ed Begley, Françoise Dorléac, Oskar Homolka, Guy Doleman, Vladek Sheybal, Milo Sperber, Donald Sutherland, Susan George
Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) has retired from the British secret service to be a private detective. But his old way of life comes back to haunt him when he receives a mysterious telephone call ordering him to take a flask to Finland and await further instructions. Pausing briefly to check the contents of the flask with a shoe shop's X-raying machine, he sees that it is carrying eggs, and proceeds to Scandinavia where he is told to meet with a Dr Kaarna. But he actually meets a young woman, Anya (Francoise Dorleac), who takes him to see an old friend, Leo (Karl Malden). Leo is caught up in an international money making scheme of his own devising, and now Harry is inextricably involved, too...

Billion Dollar Brain was adapted from Len Deighton's novel by John McGrath, and was the last of the trilogy of Harry Palmer spy adventures. Harry Palmer in these films was the ordinary bloke's answer to James Bond, but when you see the flashy Maurice Binder title sequence that opens this one you could be forgiven for thinking that Harry had sold out. While Harry was never exactly The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, rest assured that he is his old down-to-earth self here, played with Caine's understated charm and pragmatic outlook, no matter how extravagant the plotting becomes. And he spends most of his time in the cold in this one, thanks to the snowy landscape of Finland.

At one point the bewildered Palmer asks, "What's going on?", and you may well be asking the same question by the halfway point of the film. To sustain the mystery of the adventure, he is kept in the dark and shuttled around by various shadowy agencies for a large chunk of the running time, meaning that you may well be as confused as Palmer is. McGrath and Russell work hard to keep you off guard, with humour and a touch of the macabre. When Palmer awakes under a pile of dead bodies (he has a habit of being knocked out by the villains) he manages to get free, only for a group of Soviet soldiers to barge in and catch hold of him. Palmer fears the worst, but all they do is clean him up with a cloth and hot water!

Leo has been ensnared in the plans of crazed, Texan, multi-millionaire Midwinter (Ed Begley) who believes that his beloved U.S.A. isn't doing enough to battle the spread of Communism. It's unusual for the time that the Soviets, represented by Colonel Stok (the superb Oskar Homolka), are presented as more reasonable than the Americans. In fact, the big business we see here has decided to arm itself and go into war against the biggest threat to its interests, all fired up with patriotic fervour. The British and the Soviets, although they are rivals, don't want another World War set off by a private venture, and are doing their best to prevent it.

However, they reckon without the greedy Leo, who has been feeding false information to Midwinter's supercomputer, the Billion Dollar Brain of the title, so he can make easy money. Being the sixties, the computer fills a room the size of a warehouse and needs a staff of a hundred to operate it, as all the while it plans the invasion of Latvia, which Midwinter hopes will inspire a new revolution. The finale is spectacular and darkly funny, as events take an unexpected turn, and Palmer discovers, as always, he is a small cog in a large machine. They just wanted him to bring back the deadly virus-filled eggs, after all that. One of the most eccentric of the 60s Cold War films, Billion Dollar Brain is better on second viewing, when you can work out the clever but convoluted plotting. And it looks great. Music by Richard Rodney Bennett, including a fine piano theme. Two belated sequels were made for television in the nineties, also starring Caine.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 9514 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Ken Russell  (1927 - 2011)

It was trips to the cinema with his mother that made British director, writer and producer Ken Russell a lifelong film fan and this developed into making his own short films. From there, he directed dramas on famous composers for the BBC, and was soon making his own features.

French Dressing did not make much of an impact, but if his Harry Palmer episode Billion Dollar Brain was fairly well received, then his follow up, Women in Love really put Russell on the international movie map. From there the seventies produced most of the highlights of his career, never shying away from controversy, with The Music Lovers, The Devils (most reviled of his films and his masterpiece), musical The Boy Friend, and more music and artist based works with Savage Messiah, Mahler, Tommy (the film of The Who's concept album) and Lisztomania.

After the seventies, which he ended with the biopic Valentino, his popularity declined somewhat with Altered States suffering production difficulties and later projects difficult to get off the ground. Nevertheless, he directed Crimes of Passion, Gothic, Salome's Last Dance, cult horror Lair of the White Worm and The Rainbow in the eighties, but the nineties and beyond saw more erratic output, with many short films that went largely unseen, although a UK TV series of Lady Chatterley was a success. At the age of 79 he appeared on reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother but walked out after a few days. Russell was one of Britain's most distinctive talents, and his way of going passionately over the top was endearing and audacious, while he rarely lost sight of his stories' emotional aspects.

 
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
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: