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  Delta Factor, The Taking The Mickey
Year: 1970
Director: Tay Garnett
Stars: Yvette Mimieux, Christopher George, Diane McBain, Ralph Taeger, Yvonne De Carlo, Sherri Spillane, Ted de Corsia, Rhodes Reason, Joseph Sirola
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Morgan (Christopher George) has just escaped from prison, but he doesn't get far when he goes to make a phone call to his contact and ends up with a car crashing into the telephone box he is in, putting him in hospital for the next few weeks. While he is there, he is visited by a C.I.A. man (Ted de Corsia) who offers him a proposition: if he doesn't take it, he'll be inside for about twenty-five years, but if he does, he'll be out in five. He finds it difficult to refuse such a chance, but wavers when he is told what he has to do, which is spring a political prisoner from jail on an island police state...

For whatever reason, although he was hugely popular in print, when it came to the movies Mickey Spillane was oddly neglected, whether that was due to him being looked down on by filmmakers or whether nobody could work out the correct way to bring them to the screen is debatable. He did make his own version of one of his books in The Girl Hunters, a project he had so much faith in that he starred in it himself, but the most celebrated version of his work was undoubtedly Kiss Me Deadly, where his most famous Mike Hammer character was portrayed as a two-fisted lunkhead. This did not deter Spillane, and in 1970 he brought another of his novels to the screen.

This was The Delta Factor, which had been recently published and he had evidently thought this could be ideal material to cash in on the spy adventure craze of the sixties ushered in by James Bond. Of all the Spillane works to be shot, however, this remains one of the most obscure, and that may well be down to the overall quality of the project, which resembled a pilot for a television series, one of those efforts with some kind of capable bruiser in the lead of which there were an abundance at the time. There were a handful of bits and pieces that distinguished this from the small screen, and they included a naked woman popping up in a party scene, mild swearing and references to rape.

Indeed, one romantic exchange goes thus: "Does this mean I don't have to rape you?" "Oh, I love you, Morgan!" - not exactly heartwarming, but you can see where they were trying to be more adult than your average thriller, although still mired in sixties attitudes and looking it. Even though the decade had changed, there was a definite feeling of being stuck in conventions that were not moving forward as much as many people were in that era: The French Connection would be out the next year, and that makes this appear positively prehistoric (wait till you hear the explanation of the title!). This in spite of top-billed Yvette Mimieux co-starring as a C.I.A. agent who Morgan is supposed to marry as a condition of his agreement.

She plays Kim Stacy, and these days would be a kung fu kicking starlet knocking over burly men twice her size, yet here is purely present to look attractive. She does carry a gun, but that is apparently to keep Morgan away from her (he did mention rape the first time they met - what a charmer, eh ladies?), as he does most of the work in getting around to freeing that political prisoner, which for a long stretch the film forgets about while it can follow its hero as he drinks and gambles his way through the days and nights. Sure, there are such things as his contact (Spillane's wife at the time Sherri Spillane, often seen gracing his book covers) getting killed and him being framed for her murder, and even an exploding television, but not much ruffles his feathers. It does get tiresome fairly quickly, with a car chase arriving too late to save the entertainment value, and will be of most interest to vintage pulp fiction enthusiasts. What happened to the hurricane, incidentally? Music by Howard Danziger and Raoul Kraushaar.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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