Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
United Kingdom, 1964. Peter Rogers Productions. Screenplay by Talbot Rothwell, Sid Colin. Cinematography by Alan Hume. Produced by Peter Rogers. Music by Eric Rogers. Production Design by Alex Vetchinsky. Costume Design by Yvonne Caffin. Film Editing by Archie Ludski.
The ninth film in the delightful comedy franchise strikes at the heart of Bond mania while 007 was at his height, releasing this film the same year that Goldfinger came out. After a top secret formula is stolen from British intelligence headquarters (by the milkman!), the top brass are forced to enlist the perpetually wisecracking Agent Simpkins (the marvelous Kenneth Williams) and his three bumbling trainees (series regulars Barbara Windsor, Bernard Cribbins and Charles Hawtrey) to get it back. The evil STANCH organization is responsible for the theft and pursuing their henchmen takes our hapless heroes first to Vienna (complete with Third Man spoofery), then to Algiers (where they go in disguise in brownface) before returning home to England to face the evil Dr. Crow in their underground Ken Adam-inspired lair. Of course it’s silly nonsense, but it’s tons of good fun thanks to a winning combination of witty one-liners and slapstick pranks, both of which are pulled off seamlessly by a top-flight cast. Jim Dale makes a dashing James Bond-type spy as Carstairs, the field agent that the protagonists need to find but are constantly injuring instead.