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SPY

Crime & Dramatic Thrillers

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FROM THE CRIMINAL ARCHIVES OF THE POLICE (1973)

In Italian with English subs, letterboxed print. Director: Paolo Lombardo, Cast: Edmund Purdom, Cleofe Del Cile, Gordon Mitchell and Sergio Ciani aka Alan Steel.

The plot revolves around an attempt to smash a drug ring in Tunisia (admittedly, an atypical setting for the genre). Amusingly, one of the two criminal factions involved is led by a cigar-chomping heavy-set man called Maltese Joe (even if he speaks with a heavy Sicilian accent!) – the other by a paraplegic sporting slick attire, shades and the coolest of demeanors (hilariously instructing his underlings at one point to elevate him off his wheelchair). The hero is Edmund Purdom, past his prime – his womanizing antics (in a feeble attempt to link the film with the concurrent James Bond spy sagas) often getting in the way of his job. In fact, most of the action is entrusted to a couple of relics from the peplum era – namely Alan Steel (who has a fixed expression throughout, and the sight of him behind a desk with coat and tie was also quite funny!) and Gordon Mitchell (who actually turns up in only one scene before being killed, for no specific reason). As expected, there are plenty of women on hand (including a black girl called Zula who, out of the blue, performs a dance completely nude!): most look quite nice, but are given little of substance to do. One is Purdom's reporter girlfriend – unaware of his specialized police work and suspecting a fling, she follows him from London to Tunisia. Another is Maltese Joe's blonde moll, a woman who's past it but who makes herself useful by procuring her boss with information on his opponents/rivals. One more is a local girl (an Italian actress made to look like an Arab – it's safe to assume that the company never left the country!) who helps a young police aide, who sells information to the highest bidder, by having him dress up as a Casbah girl.

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MATCHLESS (1967)

Letterboxed print AT LAST!

Awesome Eurospy goodness with Patrick O'neal, Ira Von Furstenberg, Henry Silva and awesome score by Ennio Morricone.  A secret agent possesses a ring that makes him invisible for a short time, once every 10 hours. He is in pursuit of an evil criminal mastermind but, at the same time, must evade an enemy agent who also wants the ring. Wonderful mindless fun entertainment. Goofy plot, passable acting, clumsy dialog, but it is the kind of movie that doesn't ask much of the viewer, and viewers shouldn't ask much of it except for a bit of fun. I had fun. There is a wonderful bad guy, there are beautiful women like in the James Bond films, and there is a rather hapless quasi-Bond type who gets caught up in the intrigue. This is a film in the 1960s spoof genre, with its chase scenes, cars, planes, helicopters, parachutes, kites, boats, and on and on. It pokes fun at the James Bond type of movie, while at the same time having a bit of its own espionage action, just enough that the film could stand on its own (shakily) as a spy/seduction movie.

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YPOTRON (1966)

Beautiful widescreen print of this eurospy classic!

Doctor Morrow, a scientist who works for NASA, has mysteriously disappeared. The Secret Service investigates. Agent Lemmy Logan is in charge of the case. He discovers that that Leikman – a former Nazi scientist – is developing Ypotron, a weapon that could destroy a large part of the world. Leikman wants to use the dr. Morrow's scientific knowledge. This is an Europsy movie from the sixties with some nice locations en beautiful women. There is to an entertaining music score by Nico Fidenco throughout the film. The script written by Remigio Del Grosso and José Luis Martínez Mollá isn't that bad and "Agente Logan - Missione Ypotron " is well directed by Giorgio Stegani. The acting is good, especially from Luis Dávila as Lemmy Logan. However, there are 3 positive things about it that bear special mentioning: 1) Janine Reynaud in a bikini. Compared to the cute but overly mousy Gaia Germani, she plays the better female character here. 2) The striptease sequence combined with the heroine's smart trick of escaping from the hero's close supervision. 3) The interesting final twist.

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TERROR IN TOKYO FOR OSS 117 (1966)

Beautiful letterboxed print. US 24, an American Navy base in a small island in the Pacific, is annihilated. Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, a French aristocrat that is also a secret agent, OSS 117, is sent to Tokyo to investigate who did it. Soon, he finds out that a cypher girl in the American embassy had passed vital information to a Japanese gang. Eva Davidson confesses to him that she did that under cohertion, and is now ready to cooperate. OSS 117 will pretend to be Eva's husband, to better cover the contacts between her and the gang that is pursuing more information about a second naval base. Each step is a battle for his life, and he suspects that Eva may have not tell the whole truth. This film does have some things going for it: Frederick Stafford is a good enough spy lead (I'll take his OSS 117 over Timothy Dalton's 007 any day!), the cast includes a French mega-babe (Marina Vlady) and a Japanese super-cutie (Jitsuko Yoshimura), there are some enjoyable fight scenes, and the Oriental setting actually predates Connery's "You Only Live Twice" by one year!

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MY BED IS NOT FOR SLEEPING aka NEGRESCO (1968)

IN GERMAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT.  

Directed by Klaus Lemke. and Starring: Gerard Blain, Ira von Furstenberg, Christa Linder.

"Negresco" - is a strange semi-spy, semi-crime movie that features sex, luxurious cars, plot-twists, strange scenes, murder, and great soundtrack. A very good euro movie that deserves rediscovery. Well, this very obscure little 60s thriller from Klaus Lemke ("Rocker") is awesome! It features sex, parties, plot-twists, a great title track, a mysterious femme fatale (Fürstenberg), a great car, fur coats for men, drugs, etc.

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DANGER DEATH RAY! (1967)

GORGEOUS LETTERBOXED PRINT. 

The story has a death ray that was created for non violent uses being stolen for violent purposes. Why this ray is even considered all that great is beyond me as it seems to be simply a device to melt holes in metal. Actually, it was not even the ray that was taken, but rather its creator, who named his device that he had no intentions of using for violent purposes, a Death Ray! Well, enter super spy Bart Fargo, who at first does not want to do the mission because he is on vacation.  Actually, DEATH RAY is a fun little Italian spy film...once you throw up your mental arms and accept what are clearly a very cheap model submarine and an equally threadbare toy helicopter as being manifestations of a rich, ruthless and powerful man who is out to use every last penny of his personal fortune in his relentless bid to rule the world. Bart is played by former movie Tarzan Gordon Scott.

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ALL ON THE RED (196 )

IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS. 

Three shady characters organize an illegal gambling operation, but it doesn't go well. A clever upstart organization, with the help of two accomplices, set up an illegal gambling roulette wheel  and end up making money hand over fist. Among the three, in the long run, the squabble between the group, undermines the illicit and lucrative partnership. The crisis involving the trio is added to the hostility from the underworld gambling rackets, ends up becoming much more than just annoying. Stars Gordon Mitchell and Brett Halsey make this rare mixture of crime and Eurospy a real winner.

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DEAD RUN (1967)

LETTERBOXED PRINT, UNCUT VERSION

Previously available from Something Weird video in a shitty pan and scan print. This is the definitive presentation to this interesting Eurospy entry. Directed by: Christian-Jacque, Stars: Peter Lawford, Ira von Fürstenberg, Georges Géret. Berlin in winter. The days are wet and dark, the deeds darker. A petty thief on the run, drawn into a high-stakes game of espionage. Thus the scene is set for one of the genre’s most enjoyable serious entries. There are no madmen with visions of world domination, no fancy gadgets, but a bleak, well-crafted espionage story told with flair that features a stellar cast at their best.

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DEATH WHISTLES THE BLUES (1964)

IN SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT

Awesome Jess Franco Eurospy film! Vogel, an important trafficker, betrayed two of his accomplices, Castro and Smith. The first was shot by police, while the latter was imprisoned. Fifteen years later, Vogel adopted a new identity and moved to Jamaica with his wife, Linda. Smith comes back for revenge but Vogel sends his henchmen to kill him. This movie, a crime noir with jazz nightclub elements, was Franco's immediate follow-up to his 1962 horror breakthrough "The Awful Dr. Orlof". Like that movie it was co-produced by Eurocinéac, who reissued it in 1964 as "077 Operacion Jamaique", taking advantage of its Jamaican setting and gunplay to underline its similarities to "Dr. No." Lead actor Conrado San Martín was even billed as "Sean Martin" in an effort to confuse audiences looking for the movie with that Sean guy! This makes it one of the earliest James Bond rip-offs, though it actually coincided with the production of the Bond picture. This movie is supposedly the one that Orson Welles screened before choosing Franco to serve as his first assistant on "Falstaff - Chimes at Midnight," and the masked ball at the climax definitely shows the influence of "Mr. Arkadin." In one of those happy connections that Franco fans love to notice, the song sung around the 44:30 mark can be heard in other Franco movies. It's called "Blues del Tejada" here, but it's also heard in "The Awful Dr. Orloff" and "Nightmares Come at Night" and probably many others as well.

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REQUIEM FOR A SECRET AGENT (1966)

LETTERBOXED PRINT, ENGLISH DUBBED WITH JAPANESE SUBS.

Director: Sergio Sollima and Stars: Stewart Granger, Daniela Bianchi, Peter van Eyck.

Stewart Granger's last foray into the spy genre opens with a stripper act where a bullfight film is projected onto a girl's body as she seductively removes her clothing. I can't help but see this as a metaphor for the general attitude of the film in treating women as appliances, or worse. Of Granger's three spy films made in the 60's (the other two being Red Dragon and Target For Killing), this is the most violent and misogynist. Stewart Granger is all smiles and morally corrupt in his actions, but there's something about his character that makes you wonder where he originated from and what set him on the path to being the bastard that he is at an older age, compared to his younger compatriots. When he does unleash that smile upon hearing about an offer of more money to do a job, you can't help but laugh at his smarmy style. He's like the dark side of espionage...something the genre of spy films rarely recognizes as a possibility, in that any man in such a world doesn't need any morals, he just needs finances to get the job done, whatever it may be. This is also something verbally acknowledged by those who hire him for the job early in the film. They don't want an upstanding citizen or agent...his actually being a bastard is what makes him right for the task, because those he faces are just as bad!

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MISSION TO CARACAS (1965)

Letterboxed print. Rare Eurospy in beautiful quality.

Roland Carey is special agent Becker, who’s after a briefcase that rather cleverly disguises some secret documents. The documents are being smuggled aboard a cruise ship but, as luck would have it. Based on Claude Rank’s spy novel, Raoul André’s film MISSION TO CARACAS is produced by Robert de Nesle. In the same popular vein as OSS 117, Le Gorille, Le Tigre or Coplan, MISSION takes the audience through the hectic tribulations of special services agent Gil Becker, who is searching for the plans of a secret weapon, hidden in a briefcase coveted by many smugglers.Directed by: Raoul André, Stars: Roland Carey, Jany Clair, Michel Lemoine, Yvonne Monlaur, Louise Carletti. 

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ITALIAN SECRET SERVICE (1968)

IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. 

Previously available in a shitty full screen english dubbed version. Director: Luigi Comencini Stars: Nino Manfredi, Françoise Prévost, Clive Revill. Italian Secret Service is a complex spy comedy that starts during 1944, quickly shifts to 'present day' Rome, and then dashes off to London, where our hero, former resistance fighter Natalino Tartufato (code name: Cappelone, and played by dapper Nino Manfredi), hooks up with some old wartime pals, including British agent Harrison (Clive Revill). It's old home week all around, as the now grey-templed anti-fascists are on the trail of an organisation of neo-Nazis connected to a 30,000,000 lire reward. Cappelone is constantly listening to a radio headset, through which he receives his orders, and he's supplied with a suitcase full of secret weaponry, including an exploding suppository.

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SPIA SPIONE (1967)

IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. 

Directed by Bruno Corbucci

Stars: Lando Buzzanca and Teresa Gimpera.

Extremely rare Eurospy spoof! The amusing parable of Carlo as a waiter, a burglar, a spy. A gang of burglars enters the apartment of Carlo, a bumbling waiter, to rob a bank vault below, where in addition to money, there's a precious ring made of the special metal alloy. Inappropriately returned home, Carlo undergoes various vicissitudes, but then helps the thieves, only to be robbed in turn by a international spy organization in an attempt to recover the ring. Comedy that will unravel simply, with some funny jokes, in an obvious parody of the spy movie.

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ESPION LEVE-TOI (1982)

IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. 

Director: Yves Boisset Stars: Lino Ventura, Michel Piccoli, Bruno Cremer.

Sebastien Grenier is a successful French businessman, who has been living in Switserland for several years. He's married to a German professor of literature. But Grenier has a secret: he used to be a field agent for the French secret service SDECE. However, as the years went by, he certainly don't expect a wake up call any longer. He couldn't have been more wrong… Similarly as with CIA-agents, once SDECE, always SDECE… He's played by a somewhat grumpy, tired looking Lino Ventura. It all starts with a RAF style execution of a passenger in a tramway by a leftist terrorist group. From then on, Grenier gets caught in a whirlwind of events, leading to several other violent deaths. The "where's" and "when's" of these events are announced in a cool voice by a narrator. (Several other spy movies use a similar semi-documentary approach, others use a "telex"-message for the same purpose). The first victim is Henri Marchand, another SDECE-agent, played by Bernard Fresson. Many Americans will remember him as the French commissaire Barthélémy in French Connection II, with his funny clashes with "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman). Grenier soon realizes that he might not live very long anymore. But who is the spider in the deadly web around him ? Is it the mysterious and cold "Richard", played by Bruno Cremer ?(of "Maigret"-fame). Or is it Jean-Paul Chance, a slick Swiss high official from the Justice Department, who seems to be extremely well informed by whatever Grenier is doing. (Chance is played by Michel Piccoli, who clearly enjoys irritating the Grenier-character). Who's systematically knocking out several pawns on the international chess game, and why ? In the end, the French former agent will manage to shed some light into some dark corners. What he doesn't realize is that the gun, pointed at his back is hidden in another shadowy corner. Or is he ?

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OPERATION COUNTERSPY (1965)

Director: Nick Nostro, Stars: George Ardisson, Hélène Chanel, Lena von Martens.

Secret agent George, code name Ace Of Spades, who also happens to be a Lord with a passion for gambling in his spare time, is assigned to crack the safe of a Russian spy before a famous safecracker who has also been hired for the same job. What he finds inside are seemingly innocent photographs of various cities, but a criminal organization is determined to get them back by any means. Now George must decode the meaning of the photos and stop the organization's plans for global destruction. "Operation Counterspy" contains a fair amount of well-handled action, but its only distinctive touch is the countdown clock that appears near the end and covers the entire screen. Speaking of the end, this whole last section of the movie where our hero enters the underground headquarters of the villain seems a bit rushed (starting with the incredibly convenient way he stumbles upon its location), but maybe it's the result of the English-dubbed print having been cut. George Ardisson is one of the most competent James Bond clones of the period, and Lena Von Martens is one of the sweetest Eurospy girls.

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SECRET AGENT SUPERDRAGON (1966)

UNCUT LETTERBOXED PRINT, SOME SCENES ENGLISH SUBBED. 

Directed by Giorgio Ferroni, Stars: Ray Danton, Marissa Mell, Margaret Lee and Jess Hahn.

When an old colleague is killed, Secret Agent Super-Dragon comes out of retirement to investigate a case of poisoned chewing gum that leads inexplicably to an international crime syndicate planning to take over the world with psychotropic drugs smuggled in phony Ming vases. This is one of the better spy movie send-ups, especially because it takes itself completely seriously. The Dragon is remarkably smooth and smug, and his lumpy, cheerful sidekick Babyface is along to help solve the mysteries of dead colleagues, toxic gum and villains who can't stop decorating. Our Hero is worldly ("Fremont, Michigan? That's a little college town, isn't it?") but accident-prone -- he'll stay away from Ludenkelder after this assignment. This movie is colorless as spy movies go, except for the wild colorings in the ladies' hair. ("Betcha that color comes out of a bottle," one character grumps.)

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MISSION APOCALYPSE (1966)

IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT.

Director: Guido Malatesta (as James Reed), Stars: Arthur Hansel, Pamela Tudor, Eduardo Fajardo.

Yet another RARE Eurospy film.

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AGENT 3S3 PASSPORT TO HELL (1965)

Finally available in a fully scoped presentation! This is the first of George Ardisson's spy flicks and it's a darn good beginning. He followed this up with Inferno in Caracas, Operation Counterspy, and another 3S3 adventure, Hunter of the Unknown, all released in 1966. Ardisson made his share of spaghetti westerns, was in several of Mario Bava's costume epics and even had a bit in Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits! Here he plays Walter Ross, agent 3S3, a designation meaning secret agent number 3 of the 3rd Special Division, and he pretty much kicks butt. Ardisson was an excellent fighter and he has plenty of chances to show off those skills including a particularly brutal match up against Dakar, a man twice his size. We are treated to a terrific Piero Umiliani jazzy soundtrack that kicks in with the cool credit sequence and barely lets up the rest of the way. This was also director Sergio Sollima's (credited here as Simon Sterling) first spy flick and he keeps things tight and on the move throughout. Sollima also directed Hunter of the Unknown and Requiem For a Secret Agent with lesser results. Fun things include the winter Vienna locations, the unusual geographical and architectural locations in Lebanon, arm wrestling with a glass of beer between the combatants, litmus paper that can be used to detect poison in one's drink, a pendant transmitter with the receiver in a pair of eyeglasses, and a needle-shooting compact case. The script is good without a lot of nonsense and one line that sticks with this viewer is spoken by Jackie Yen: `I hate violence when it's used against myself.' Don't we all. The real attraction here is of the tailor-made role for Ardisson. He's a snappy dresser and doesn't come across as your typical smarmy secret agent. Rather, he's in control and doesn't need a lot of gadgets to get the job done. He's worth watching the film for even if it wasn't as good as it happens to be. Recommended.

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IF I WERE A SPY (1967)

IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. 

Director: Bertrand Blier, Stars: Bernard Blier, Bruno Cremer, Patricia Scott.

Dr. Lefebvre, a widower who lives a quiet life with his daughter, has among his patients, a depressive man named Guerin. He often changes his address. He is wanted by his wife, Genevieve Laurent and by strangers who monitor the doctor, rob him, and threaten him. The doctor lives in fear; he is harassed by a man named Kruger, the head of the gang, who threatens retaliation on his daughter Sylvie. Excellent French Eurospy film.

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COBRA (1967)

UNCUT AND LETTERBOXED PRINT. 

Spaghetti Western star Peter Martell (Pietro Martellanza) stars in THE COBRA (IL COBRA), a Eurospy action thriller in which he plays disgraced treasury agent Mike Rand, who teams with his boss (Dana Andrews) to halt a Red Chinese plot to destroy the free world by flooding the market opium and turning everyone into addicts. Along the way he manages to bed junkie Anita Ekberg, get into various fights and destroy the refinery that is sending out the drugs. A very luscious looking Anita Ekberg co-stars. THE COBRA is one of the final films of Italian screenwriter and director Mario Sequi (uncredited co-director of THE TRAMPERS with Joseph Cotton and Gordon Scott), who dabbled in various genres beginning in 1946.

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KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE (1966)

Directors: Henry Levin, Arduino Maiuri, Stars: Mike Connors, Dorothy Provine, Raf Vallone.

An outlandish science-fiction, comedy-thriller full of tongue-and-cheek action, ingenious gadgets in the James Bond style combining violence and tension with polished villainy and flippant espionage, as the resourceful CIA Mike "Mannix" Connors and British agents, Dorothy Provine and Terry-Thomas (both previously in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World") escape death-traps on land, sea and air. The first thing to be said for the movie is that it looks more expensive than your average '60's spy caper. Most of the 007 wannabees lacked the kind of extravagance the Bonds had in abundance, but 'Kiss' was an exception. It boasts fabulous location filming in Rio, impressive sets ( Ardonian's underground lair is cool ), the gadgets are fun, the girls hot, and the hero stylishly played by future 'Mannix' star Mike Connors.

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THE SPY I LOVED (1964)

IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. 

Director:Maurice Labro, Stars: Dominique Paturel - Coplan, Virna Lisi - Ingrid Carlsen, Jacques Balutin - Fondane. 

This is a low-to-the-ground espionage story shot in the style before James Bond made the splash heard 'round the world in Dr. No, even though it was made two years later. Virni Lisi is nice to look at and takes a bath in one scene.

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SIGPRESS VS SCOTLAND YARD (1968)

LETTERBOXED PRINT.

Released here in the early days on Force video as THE PSYCHOPATH (a totally misleading title, this is a beautiful widescreen version from the Eurocrime/heist  genre. Directed by: Guido Zurli, Stars: George Martin, Ingrid Schoeller, Karin Field and Klaus Kinski.  An offbeat crime comedy, mostly flippant and parodic when it focuses on the hero, a gentleman-thief-master of disguise, and the almost Clouseau-like Inspector of Scotland Yard, who is always one step behind him, but also pretty grim in its actual crime plot, which ends with several deaths, including some of innocent people. The hero also has extra springy gymnastic abilities, which make for some unusual fight scenes. The female cast is exceptionally attractive: Sophia Loren-lookalike Gloria Paul has just one scene, a show-stopping musical number, and Orchidea De Santis appears in an equally show-stopping bikini. The music score is somewhat repetitious but extremely catchy.

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