Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
United Kingdom, 1966. Lowndes Productions Limited. Screenplay by based on the novel by Cinematography by Produced by Charles D. Kasher. Music by Konrad Elfers. Production Design by Ken Adam. Costume Design by Barbara Gillett, Brian Owen-Smith. Film Editing by John Bloom.
The second in the Harry Palmer film series, following The Ipcress File and preceding The Billion Dollar Brain (which is almost impossible to find). In this installment, Palmer (the perennially dapper Michael Caine) is sent to Berlin to assist in the defection of a Russian colonel (Oskar Homolka) who wishes to join western civilization. It’s a routine assignment, and Palmer feels it insulting to his capabilities as a significant member of the spy world, but the plot thickens upon his arrival in the divided city and Palmer ends up in a dangerous game of international intrigue that keeps getting more complicated at every twist and turn. While not as interesting (or convoluted) a plot as Ipcress, this solid adventure film is a great opportunity to see Caine’s star quality and also enjoy an alternative to the much flashier Bond films of the period (both series were produced by Harry Saltzman at the time). The photography of divided Berlin is gorgeous, and the rabbit-hole spy tale is impressively diverting. The series ended after the third film, then was brought back in 1996 with two more adventures (with Caine still in the lead!), Bullet To Beijing and Midnight In St. Petersburg.