Sat 26 Nov 2011
DEADLIER THAN THE MALE. Universal, 1967. Richard Johnson, Elke Sommer, Sylva Koscina, Nigel Green, Suzanna Leigh, Steve Carlson, Virginia North. Story & screenplay by Liz Charles-Williams, David D. Osborn & Jimmy Sangster, based on the characters created by Herman C. “Sapper” McNeile. Director: Ralph Thomas.
Compared to the Dick Barton film (reviewed here ), there’s nothing as pre-adolescent in Deadlier Than the Male, which is firmly adolescent in its imitation-Bond fantasies.
I must have seen this six times in my Senior year of High School, and I tried hard to convince my serious-film-student friends there was something really worthwhile there amid the sex, violence and Eastman Color. They told me that even I should be grown-up enough to reject this mindless rubbish, but it became available on video recently and I enjoyed it all over again.
This was the first Bulldog Drummond movie in about 20 years, and the producers approached it with B-movie gusto, garnished it with sexy assassins (Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina, whose un-self-conscious bad acting seems quite fitting here), a scar-faced Chinese bodyguard, a giant chess game and Nigel Green’s droll villainy, all splashed across colorful locations tricked out with James Bond-style fights and wise cracks.
I have to agree with my old friends about its artistic merits, but the thing is infused with such a low-budget, gee-wouldn’t-it-be-fun-to-make-a-movie elan that if you haven’t read any good comic books lately, you might like it.
By the way, Bulldog Drummond is incarnated here by actor Richard Johnson, who also impersonated British Icons, Lord Nelson and Nayland Smith in films that were much less fun.