CATCH ME A SPY. [a/k/a TO CATCH A SPY] Capitole Films, 1971. Kirk Douglas, Marlène Jobert, Trevor Howard, Tom Courtenay, Patrick Mower. Based on the novel Catch Me a Spy by George Marton & Tibor Méray. Co-screenwriter & director: Dick Clement.

Catch Me a Spy

   The particulars on the novel, as per Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, are as follows:

      Catch Me a Spy (with Tibor Méray). Allen, UK, hc, 1971; Harper, US, hc,1969.

   The author twosome wrote one other book together:

      The Raven Never More (with Tibor Méray). London: Spearman, hc,1966.

      This is the extent of Tibor Méray’s entries in CFIV. George Marton has a small number of other books listed for him. All are hardcover editions unless indicated otherwise:

   MARTON, GEORGE (1900- )

      * Three-Cornered Cover [with Christopher Felix] (n.) Allen, UK, 1973; Holt, US, 1972.
      * The Obelisk Conspiracy [with Michael Burren] (n.) Allen, UK, 1975; Stuart, US, 1976. [France]
      * Alarum (n.) Allen, UK, 1977.
      * The Janus Pope (n.) Allen, UK, 1980. Dell, US, pb, 1979.

   I imagine George Marton has passed away by this time, but at the moment I have to confess that this is all I know about him.

To Catch a Spy

   And after all, this is a review of the film that was based on one of his books, and one I enjoyed but have rather mixed feelings about. The plot, however, should come first, and so I shall. Fabienne (Marlène Jobert), the rather naive young niece of a British intelligence official (Trevor Howard) is romanced and quickly married to John Fenton (Patrick Mower), but their honeymoon in Bucharest is rudely (if not crudely) interrupted by Fenton’s arrest and whisking off to Russia, where an exchange for a spy in Britain’s hands is demanded.

   When the swap falls through (and this is meant literally), the spy the Russians wanted not being available, in order to obtain her husband back, Fabienne must find another spy to offer them instead. This is where a chap named Andrej (Kirk Douglas) comes in.

   As there are in all good spy movies, there are several secrets behind some of these statements, none of which will I reveal, but after some quarreling and other small rows between the (now) two primary participants, a mutual kidnapping and several other humorous interludes, the day is saved — in a frenzy of final revelations and speedboat chases.

Marlene Jobert

   And I confess that I did not realize for a while that there WERE humorous interludes in this movie, and it took me several double-takes before I fully caught on. British humor is rather dry, often with a “did they really mean that?” sort of approach to comedy, at least on the viewer’s part, or so it was for me.

   I should have mentioned before now that this is a British film, in spite of Kirk Douglas being a well-known American star, and Marlène Jobert being equally well-known in France, but not in the US until recently, when it was revealed that she is the mother of Eva Green, female star of the most recent James Bond movie.

   But to get back to the point I was making, the movie we are talking about (and not Casino Royale) is amusing but not hilarious. It was also done in, at least for me, by accents. Both the British accents in this film, sometimes near impenetrable, and Mlle. Jobert’s French accent, often in a whispery voice, have convinced me that I might enjoy the movie even more if I were to watch it again and give them (the accents) a second try, which indeed I may.

   Or not. I didn’t see the attraction between the two leads. Kirk Douglas is tall and scruffy looking, while Mlle. Jobert appears short and pixie-ish if not waif-ish. She seems to all but disappear whenever they are on the screen together, standing one next to the other. Perhaps another viewing of this film would convince me otherwise, but right now, after seeing the movie only once, I can’t imagine opposites ever attracting each other as strongly as they are supposed to have done in To Catch a Spy.