Talk about being mistaken! Originally I’ve been loking for a movie starring Frederick Stafford (Agent 505: Todesfalle Beirut) as a preliminary viewing before I’d commence my macaroni combat movie reviews, but for some reason I’d ended up with The Spy Killers (also known as Secret Agent Fireball and Our Man in Beirut, a. k. a. Le spie uccidono a Beirut). Well, so much for choosing movies half-asleep.
And I was wondering when the hell Stafford’s credits come up, when I’ve spotted another familiar name instead – can you say “Richard Harrison”?
Yes, the good old Ninja master Gordon we all love from Godfrey Ho’s movies (and I’ve reviewed in 2019) was in his younger years all around the Italian cinematography – westerns, peplums, eurospy…and the last category named is where The Spy Killers fit in.
Starring Richard Harrison (just in case you’ve forgotten) as Bob Fleming (and if you tell me you didn’t get the obvious reference here, you’ll be damned!), an American secret agent sent by his boss (played by Jean Ozenne, who I only remember from Anqelique – as the marquis de Plesis-Belliere and Fantomas vs. Scotland Yard – as Albert) after a microfilm two Russian scientists smuggled from the Soviet Union.
The enemy? Who else, those evil Russkies! Wandisa Guida (who has played with Harrison in adventure movie Adventures of the Bengal Lancers, also in various peplums, gialli, adventure and eurospy movies) is beautiful Russian agent Elena, along with veteran exploitation actor Luciano Pigozzi (whose credential make me wanna watch every single movie where he starred in) in the role of Yuri and Aldo Cecconi (whose credits are as interesting as Pigozzi’s) as Ivan.
And because what eurospy movie could be with some love interest for our hero, we have a damsel in distress (sort of) in Dominique Boschero (and not surprisingly with quite a few nice credits of our interests – peplums, eurospy and spaghetti westerns) playing Liz Grune (with a lovable, but – in an English dub – sooo false French accent).
The story can’t be more straightworward. Agent Fleming is sent after the that microfilm, this quest gets him from Paris through Hamburg to Beirut (therefore the alternate title of Our Man in Beirut), followed by Soviet agents. And yeah, good guys win.
The opening scene with Harrison having a nice time with a woman just to be interrupted by a phone call from the agency, is basically a carbon-copy of similar scene from Bond movies, but unlike scenes of the same nature with, say, Sean Connery or Roger Moore, Harrison is just mildly amusing. He’s got the looks, no doubt about it, but acting skills…well, let’s say, it’s minor league compared to aforementioned actors, which is OK with me (we can’t all be the A-listers, can we), but I think he was much better in Umberto Lenzi’s Temple of the Thousand Lights (as far as I can compare).
However, that doesn’t matter. What really disappoints me though, was the lack of inventive secret weapons we usually have in eurospy movies. Laser pen? Yawn. The watch with a tracking device? Yawn. I have to say these, along with good story and a nice woman, makes a successful eurospy movie for me. Here, unfortunately, Dominique Boschero just doesn’t cut it (not that she’s not attractive, just not my type), shame Wandisa Guida played the villainy female (but eye-pleasing, mind you).
There are some good points as well… scenes in Hamburg with those old police cars chasing the ambulance driven by Fleming? Loved it!!! All this old stuff from 1960s, now, obviously, looking like ancient era to modern viewers, was absolute fun to watch.
The other thing striking me were scenes in Beirut and strangely – and I can’t explain it – I am fascinated by crowd scenes pictures on the celluloid. That got me thinking…man, that old guy, he must have been born in 1890s…how old that young boy can be now….I know it’s silly, and it really has nothing to do with the movie at all, but still. Makes me enjoy movies even more.
For those with Amazon Prime, as of current writing, the movie is available for streaming. What an age to live in, right?