The Persuaders !

2

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  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,213Chief of Staff

    You don't have to know the technical stuff to explain what you like. I've loved that theme from the first time I heard it; bought the 45 and played it to death; and the B side "The Girl With The Sun In Her Hair" is hypnotically beautiful, too.

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,966MI6 Agent

    Brings back memories... Sunsilk ads and 'The Persuaders!' (as a comic strip In 'Countdown' comic as well as on TV)!

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 53 years.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent
    edited June 2023

    @Shady Tree were you not at that OO7 get together in Mortlake tonight ? Any Persuaders chat there?

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,966MI6 Agent

    Couldn't make it, sadly. Was posting on the way home from work late and will be out of town today... I enjoy reading the reviews on this thread, though!

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 53 years.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    I couldn't either. Got some unexpected work. Plus it wS my birthday and I had to drink wine & eat pizza - oh the joy

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,966MI6 Agent

    Hope you had a good one and enjoyed the birthday pizza!

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 53 years.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent
    edited July 2023

    Thanks for the love, guys.


    Episode 6: The Time and the Place

    Director: Roger Moore

    Writer: Michael Pertwee 

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Ian Hendry, Anna Palk

    A dead body in the woods drags The Persuaders into a deadly game of coup d’état perfected by the affable, yet fascist, Lord John Croxley, played with just the right amount of despicable authority by Ian Hendry.

    We’re back in England, of course, and in the realms of treason as typified by a conversation held beside Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London, where Brett Sinclair is warned by Anna Palk’s fetching Marie to stay out of the affair for the good of the country. 

    Meanwhile Tony Curtis does his Cary Grant impersonation again and is kidnapped by two fake policemen. Escape comes via a spectacular car chase which ends in an expensive looking [for ITC] explosion. 

    The action moves swiftly and is well orchestrated and directed. Roger Moore really proves his worth here with some nice creative touches from behind the lens – excellent use of foregrounds, good framing shots and a particularly fine piece of choreographed symmetrical movement. If the ending falls a little flat it’s hardly his fault and more to do with the writing which struggles to maintain itself for a full fifty minutes.

    As always the minor coda is played for laughs but, from my point of view, it was only interesting as it afforded a view of Downing Street before they imposed those huge iron gates on us.

    Sir Roger chasing after Anna Palk - note the contrast in clothing - Brett Sinclair in a full length leather overcoat and Miss Palk's character in a close fitting all-in-one cowgirl outfit which looks suspiciously like it might be all she is wearing.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 7: Someone Like Me

    Director: Roy Ward Baker

    Writer: Terry Nation 

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Bernard Lee, Reginald Marsh, Tony Wright, Gerald Sim

    Curiously there are no guest stars listed for this episode, which is written by regular ITC contributor Terry Nation and has a slightly sci-fi plot involving memory loss, assassination, kidnap, brainwashing and trigger words. Perhaps, once they saw the end the result, the actors all rather fancied anonymity.

    The story involves a Brett Sinclair doppelganger primed to murder his old pal Sam Milford, played by Bernard Lee. [Given that in just a few years Lee, of course, will be playing M opposite Roger Moore's 007 in The Man with the Golden Gun, the novel of which features an attempt by Bond to kill his boss, you do wonder just how that movie might have turned out...] 

    This chapter proceeds quite nicely through its scenario which includes a bluff to both the characters and the audience. Roger Moore and Tony Curtis are very good in this one, playing respectively a befuddled victim and a concerned friend. There’s an early scene of great mystery when Brett – or not Brett – wakes up in a hospital bed, only to discover he’s really residing in an eerie deserted dilapidated mansion; Roger Moore is suitably agitated. Tony Curtis’ Danny meanwhile remains convincingly perplexed throughout by the actions of his friend – or foe. 

    Unfortunately while Someone Like Me has all the necessities of a Cold War thriller, the actual reason for Brett’s predicament seems remarkably bland and you feel an hour has been wasted on a crime of passion. The central performances deserve better.

    Brett's Aston Martin

    Danny's Ferrari Dino

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,694MI6 Agent

    Got to love that Brett's Aston is still road legal and passing its MOTs :)


  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    And only 83214 miles on the clock

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 8: Anyone Can Play

    Director: Leslie Norman

    Writer: Tony Williamson

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Cyd  Hayman, Dudley Foster, Ed Devereaux, Richard Vernon, Patrick O'Connor

    The English Riviera, a casino in Brighton, Danny Wilde makes a small fortune at the roulette table, but his luck has unexpected results when his winning streak gets him mistaken for a Soviet spy. While the premise of the story has some merit, it is constructed with too many implausibilities:

    1 – a hopelessly convoluted password

    2 – a suddenly, miraculously drunken Brett Sinclair

    3 – a selection of helpless hoods

    4 – a bumbling Tony Curtis mistaken for a manipulative agent

    5 – a climax of extreme ridiculousness set on a rickety studio designed train carriage

    6 – the world’s worst break-in

    7 – a Soviet spy who is as useless at his job as Danny Wilde is at impersonating him

    8 – a host of heavy accents

    9 – caricature supporting roles

    10 – a series of excruciatingly badly executed fight scenes

    11 – a happy-go-Charlie-cheerful music score

    12 – unimaginative direction

    13 – a lethargic script

    This really is one of those episodes which explains why The Persuaders was dubbed ‘the best worst T.V. show of the seventies.’

    Plus points – yes, there are some – include an attractive female accomplice played by Cyd Harman and Richard Vernon’s English gent version of Judge Fulton, an intelligence head of some description, who seems to spend his working days playing the slots on Brighton pier. All in all, this tale has too much humour, too thin a plot and too many inexcusable inexplicable moments to be taken remotely seriously.

    A wind swept day on the 'English Riviera'

    The roulette wheel from the sparkling credits. I have no idea if there is or ever was a casino in Brighton, but it is fun to think so - in the basement of the Grand Hotel perhaps, or a one-door entrance off the Lanes...

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 9: The Old, the New and the Deadly

    Director: Leslie Norman

    Writer: Brian Clemens

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Anna Gael, Derren Nesbitt, Patrick Troughton, Juliet Harmer 

    The Old, the New and the Deadly opens with a wizened old man listening to audio recordings of Hitler’s greatest speeches; so we know immediately that Le Marceau [played with some crazed malevolence by Patrick Troughton out to break his mould as Doctor Who] is a bit of a lunatic and must have Nazi sympathies. This means we are spared a lot of pointless explanations. Only one question remains: why is he out to kill Danny Wilde? 

    Turns out, the father of Danny’s ex-girlfriend Suzy – a woman handily staying in the same Parisian hotel – was framed and hung for wartime crimes and Danny has inadvertently revealed a clue to the real culprit. While unravelling the plot, a lot of good natured fun is had in and around Paris, some of it shot on location, some of it the ITC studio’s idea of swinging Paris: for instance Roger Moore gets to jive with two young dolly birds at a nightclub called Naturist, their expressions so far out the two girls look as if they really were on drugs during the filming. Cool, baby! 

    At other times there’s some farcical goings on involving Darren Nesbit’s straight faced aloof hit man Grosky. These moments allow Grosky to become a genuine threat; he’s cold, calculating, careful, a very, very effective villain. Elsewhere Tony Curtis, forever the court jester, gets to utter a couple of classic ripostes which for once don’t seem out of step with the proceedings: when answering the telephone he says: “No, this is not Mr Schultz!” [his real name, of course] and after another attempt on his life fails he quips: “I’m gonna have to take out more insurance!” 

    A gold statue holds the key and the affair is wrapped up neatly in time for Suzy (a baffled looking Anna Gael) to explain the mix up to her irate and punching prone husband. 

    It’s a good enough episode, structured along traditional lines with a smooth blend of humour and excitement but without the over emphasis on fisticuffs which has already begun to mar the series. The moment where Grosky realises he is working for a nutcase and with idiots was a particular stand out; this methodical villain deserved more screen time. 

    Overall, a thumbs up.

    There was a fair bit of chat about John Barry's theme tune earlier. I too think it is a great theme and one of Barry's most underrated efforts. It conjures up all kinds of images of darkness, deception, intrigue and a touch of sparkling glamour. Does anyone have a copy of this CBS album celebrating John Barry's music?

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 10: Angie, Angie

    Director: Val Guest

    Writer: Milton S. Gelman 

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Laurence Naismith, Larry Torch, Kristina Lindholm 

    As with the previous two episodes, Angie, Angie revolves primarily around Tony Curtis’ character Danny Wilde. During the Cannes Film Festival Danny meets an old acquaintance, Angie, who Judge Fulton suspects of being a ruthless hit man for hire. Meanwhile, at the casino, Brett has foiled an attempt on the life of a union informant. His suspicions are aroused when he realises Angie’s girlfriend was also at the casino that night. 

    This story benefits from some location shooting and the clever use of flashbacks to emphasise Danny and Angie’s long friendship. The editing hook overplays itself a little when Brett remembers the casino hit, but generally it’s a neat creative contrivance that the series could have done with a little more of.

    The series could also have coped with more of this type of acting from Tony Curtis, who performs the injured party brilliantly. His defiant rants at Roger Moore’s steadfast Brett bring to mind those great performances he gave in a selection of late fifties movie roles rather than the endless comedies he was cast in during the sixties. Larry Storch is an equally good foil as the killer pal, a confused, fidgety character who seems uncomfortable in suits and fancy nightclubs and would rather be on the streets kicking stones. Swedish model Kirsten Lindholm has a decorative, mute role as the girl. Roger Moore too has his moments of class, trying to uncover the truth and beset at each turn by an angry Curtis or a baffled Laurence Naismith (the Judge). Val Guest, always an assured hand, is on top form as director controlling all these acting egos.

    Unfortunately the finale is uneven. The villain has the audacity to term the showdown a game of “cowboys and Indians” and he isn’t far wrong. Instead it plays very successfully as a western showdown; there’s death and heartbreak, redemption and sunsets.

    This chapter is well worth an individual look. It’s always a good sign when writers decide to offer more than surface value to their characters and the background Milton S. Gelman gives to Danny reinforces and resonates with the behaviours we have already come to identify in him. Angie, Angie draws out Danny Wilde’s story in an effective, taut and affecting manner.

    Very good indeed.

    The lovely Kristina Lindholm

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent
    edited July 2023

    Episode 11: Chain of Events

    Director: Peter Hunt

    Writer: Terry Nation 

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Susanna Leigh, Peter Vaughn, George Baker,

    A plane lands in Eastern Europe, its pilot charged with escorting a covert agent, Baxter, and his briefcase full of secrets to the UK. But Baxter is killed and a double agent replaces him, handcuffing the case to his wrist.

    Meanwhile Danny Wilde is attempting to get back to nature and has persuaded [you see what I did there!] Brett Sinclair to accompany him on a camping expedition. Brett’s idea of back to nature is distinctly upper-class and his enormous tent has all the trappings of home, including chilled champagne and a gas cooker. Danny meanwhile goes in search of freshly caught wild river trout. He actually discovers the body of a dying man who appears to have parachuted fatally through the forest, but is clutching a briefcase. Before he expires, the dying double agent affixes the case and its security chain to Danny’s wrist thus setting in motion a series of actions with high stakes and even higher consequences.

    As usual most of the opening scenes are full of gentle humour. Roger Moore enjoys himself tremendously enacting the gent out of town and out of his comfort zone while Tony Curtis’ Danny seems to genuinely enjoy slumming it. More interesting however is the excellent direction by Bond devotee Peter Hunt and his snappy violent editing. Taut suspense is injected into the initial forest-bound chase, with Curtis particularly good demonstrating Danny’s vicious streak.

    In a manner of speaking Curtis is reprising his stand out movie role from 1958’s The Defiant Ones with Sidney Poitier replaced by the cumbersome briefcase. He’s pursued by the British constabulary, the Secret Intelligence Service (represented by George Baker and a fetching Susanna Leigh) and the Russians. Here Peter Vaughn’s Schubert is a low-key master spy with a nasty, emphatic logical mind set; his performance is very good and adds necessary dexterity to an action packed story, the only low point perhaps being his unnecessary and rather daft sounding Eastern European accent. It would have made more sense for him to remain English; he is after all operating undercover in Britain.

    For all that, writer Terry Nation gives Vaughn all the best dialogue, which he delivers in those wonderful solemnness tones; “I’ll be as happy to take the case from a dead man as a live one” makes Danny demonstratively angry, to which the suave Schubert replies: “Anger is a futile and exhausting emotion. If you want to waste energy on an escape attempt, please go ahead.” You sense Nation, as writer, has brought some of his classic motifs to the proceedings. Things are never quite as they appear, helped by the excellent photography. Freed from the blinding glare of the Riviera sun, Tony Spratling gives us those deep, dark Hammer Horror-looking greens, golds and blacks, often shot in atmospheric day-for-night. It is of cinematic standard.

    More narrative intrigue and performance fun is provided when Curtis is hobbled in a shower by Emily Major (Miss Leigh) who turns all Emma Peel and begins to dispatch the bad guys with much aplomb. It is no surprise that Roger Moore arrives in the nick of time to help save the day – and his best friend – from a potential exploding bomb. 

    If the time line stretches credulity too far and the eventual outcome is a trifle damp, I can forgive this because at last The Persuaders has provided fifty minutes of classic adventure.

    Very good television indeed.

    Brett Sinclair's version of a camping trip with Moore and Curtis both camping it up tremendously - things settle down into a thrill a minute adventure - Chain of Events is one of my favourite episodes of The Persuaders!

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,153MI6 Agent

    @chrisno1 From memory, doesn’t this episode show a stack of OHMSS movie tie-in paperbacks ? A nice touch from Peter Hunt!

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,929MI6 Agent

    there is this shot in one of the episodes

    the page I'm linking to says "episode 11", so thats the same one chris is talking about

    those white covers seem to be the hardest ones to find, so thats a very valuable briefcase!

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,213Chief of Staff

    I used to have that vinyl album many years ago, but no longer.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Where do you get these stills? I haven't watched these episodes recently, just one every ao often, the reviews are from posts I made a while back on the 'other' site. I don't even remember this !!!!

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,929MI6 Agent

    I just did a google image search on "persuaders ohmss" and got these results...

    the image I linked to appeared in a reddit page in the second tier of results. I have no idea what reddit is but I do remember that shot from the one episode or another

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,153MI6 Agent
    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 12: That’s Me Over There

    Director: Leslie Norman

    Writer: Brian Clemens

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Geoffrey Keen, Suzan Farmer, Laurence Naismith, Allan Cuthbertson, Peter Gilmore, Juliet Harmer, Terence Edmond

    Laurence Naismith’s Judge Fulton makes a welcome return for the twelfth episode of The Persuaders. It’s disappointing he’s been ferried over to London because this story would provide a great excuse to photograph some of that ravishing French countryside. Well, nonetheless… a whistle blower has been offering information piece meal to an intrigued Brett Sinclair, information exposing mega-industrialist Thaddeus Krane as a vicious criminal. 

    Writer Brian Clemens always constructs good action orientated tales and this is no exception: a daring safe crack, a rooftop chase across London, kidnapping, torture, mistaken identity and murder. All the ingredients for a fast paced story are there and the good cast play the game for all it’s worth. Particular praise must go to Geoffrey Keen who is excellent as the shifty Thaddeus Krane, but work-a-day stalwarts such as Alan Cuthbertson, Patrick Newell and Terence Edmond don’t let the standards drop for a second. It's always nice to see the delightful Suzan farmer back in an ITC project. she graced many an episode of The Saint during its classic sixties run. Our own Geoffrey Keen makes a believably tough and uncompromising villain.

    Latterly the action moves to an English country mansion and there’s some sparkling fun at an art auction where Tony Curtis’ Danny Wilde impersonates Roger Moore’s Brett Sinclair and vice versa, confusing the villains, the good guys, themselves and Brett’s sometime squeeze Prue [sexy Juliet Harmer]. To climax the piece there is a chaotic three car chase through the rather less exotic English landscapes [oh, to be in France!]. For once the story makes sense and is presented in a fashion which matches its players’ strengths as well as the fifty minute format. The story moves speedily from one set piece to the next with hardly a pause for breath. Leslie Norman directs with some authority, proving his consistency after his two previous outings showed vastly differing results. There is an occasional duff note struck, usually via the humour, but this is more a sign of the series’ times, not ours. 

    Overall this is one of the best episodes yet and I’d congratulate Mr Clemens on crafting a consummate story which finally allows the stars and their support to shine.

     Passports anyone, please? Juliet Harmer and Suzan Farmer really deserved to be in the South of France...


  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 13: The Long Goodbye

    Director: Roger Moore

    Writer: Michael Pertwee 

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Leo Genn, Nicola Pagett, Laurence Naismith, Noel Williams, Glynne Edwards, Peter Sallis, Madeliene Smith, Anoushka Hempel, Valerie Leon

    Writer Michael Pertwee teams up with director Roger Moore for a second time in the series but the results are not quite as successful as in the earlier The Time and the Place. Opening in Scotland but soon transferring to London, this is a well-dressed, attractive adventure with a stellar cast packed full of talent: Nicola Paget as heroine Carla Wilks; Madeleine Smith and Anouska Hemple as her dual impersonators; Glyn Edwards, Leo Genn and Peter Sallis turn up as villains vying for industrial secrets; and Valerie Leon is sexy sales woman the Space Queen. 

    At stake is the future of the world’s energy supplies. The Persuaders have taken hold of a secret formula, thought lost in an air crash. This low-cost high-grade fuel could change the whole world, but several businessmen want to use it for devious and destructive purposes. The daughter of the murdered scientist Professor Wilks has a difficult decision resting on her pretty shoulders. 

    In the turmoil, most of which appears to have been shot around the environs of Brixton and Stockwell [Roger Moore’s home streets], Danny is once again kidnapped and Brett performs a rescue act, utilizing the Space Queen’s visual talents.

    The plot is as thin as paper, but it is well acted if a trifle hammy, and there’s plenty of fun without any real sense of danger. The fifty minutes passes time solidly and doesn’t stretch anyone’s muscles too far. The writing and production is of standard televisual quality. All this makes for an okay adventure saved by the enthusiasm of a bright cast.

    Nicola Pagett looking lovely...


    Peter Sallis looking creepy...

    And Valerie Leon castling smiles at Roger Moore...

    She would do so again in The Spy Who Loved Me and, for good measure, with Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 14: The Man in the Middle

    Director: Leslie Norman

    Writer: Donald Jones 

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Terry Thomas, Suzy Kendall, Laurence Naismith, Spencer Grief  

    This time the mistaken identity plot involves Brett Sinclair masquerading as a British double agent at the behest of Judge Fulton, who no longer appears to be quite as retired as everyone once thought. Into the standard mix are thrown Suzy Kendall as Kay, a British security agent, and Terry Thomas as Archie, the Sinclair family black-sheep.

    Nominally set in Rome, but lacking anything more than scenic postcard vistas and a few seconds of Brett’s Aston Martin sidling past the Coliseum, this episode has a genuine espionage grounding. However it is slightly skewed by the overt humour provided by Thomas’ bumbling down-at-heel aristocrat. Sadly his part is so broadly written and his interpretation so unsubtle it overpowers whatever seriousness there ought to be. He’s so prominent they could have retitled this chapter “Archie... Archie.”

    Much of the action takes place in a posh Italian hotel or in and around the Russian Embassy. Both are very tired looking studio sets and the only moment of true genius is a brief scene where the unflappable Roger Moore is interrogated by Geraldine Moffat’s gorgeous KGB aide. Elsewhere there’s very little tension, not much excitement and a lot of harmless hokum.

    Not one for the record.

    I like this cool monochrome of Curtis and Moore, how they are both looking to the corners of the room and not the camera.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 15: Element of Risk

    Director: Gerald Mayer

    Writer: Roy Barwick

    Starring Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, June Ritchie, Peter Bowles, Laurence Naismith, William Marlowe, David Healy, Shane Rimmer, Victor Platt

    Mistaken identity again! Danny Wilde is the inadvertent recipient of an engraved suitcase belonging to master criminal Harry Lomax. Lomax’s associates, who have handily never actually met him, assume Danny really is their man, which, once Tony Curtis starts over-acting, becomes more and more unbelievable…

    The supporting roles are fairly substantial. June Ritchie makes a fetching distraction for Danny and there are returns for Laurence Naismith (I can’t remember why – which should tell you something) and Victor Platt as the mysterious underworld informer The Farmer. For the opposition, Peter Bowles plays Mitchell with debonair callousness and Shane Rimmer does a nice turn as the genuine Lomax; between them they’ve plotted a bullion robbery. The narrative is fairly bright with a nice increase in tension as the band of desperados infiltrates a US Air Force base to hijack a cargo plane packed full of gold. The raid itself is ingenious in a sort of cheap and cheerful television fashion. That it is foiled comes as no surprise. Roger Moore – impersonating a pilot – is there no end to Brett Sinclair’s talents? – speeds to the rescue just in time.

    Sadly the remainder of the piece barely passes muster. London is featured prominently during a taxi ride to aid our orientation, but the indoor stages are bland and the set for the Trocadero looks nothing like the Trocadero ever looked. There’s a neat on-going gag featuring twin dates for Brett and Danny, but even that fizzles out to a predictable end.

    Perhaps the best moment is at the end when, identity revealed, Brett confronts the villainous Mitchell who says, aghast: “Sinclair? Weren’t we at school together? Some snotty nosed kid…” Moore merely smiles; well, he is the star isn’t he?

    For me the undoubted star is John Barry's theme tune which sends a tiny thrill down one's spine every time you hear it. A great pity the music isn't utilised to any effect during the actual action [ a copyright issue I assume ] as the incidental soundtracks to most of the episodes are uniformly average. Ken Thorne is the major contributor, a composer of film scores which while never bad were never particularly memorable either. The same I'm afraid holds true of the jokey style he employed for The Persuaders.


  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,213Chief of Staff

    I'm very much enjoying reading these, although not saying much. I'm sure others are, too.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 16: A Home of One’s Own

    Director: James Hill

    Writer: Terry Nation

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Hannah Gordon, John Ronane, Leon Greene, Michael Wynne

    This is a very odd chapter indeed. Mysterious satanic happenings at a remote farmhouse result in the murder of a special police agent. When Danny purchases the cottage, in the mistaken belief it could be his dream house, he opens a weekend of peril for The Persuaders.

    Terry Nation’s background as a sci-fi writer lends itself to the opening scenes and their inhabitants with their strange olde-worlde superstitious view of the countryside, but they mix uneasily with Tony Curtis’ dreadful overacting, which is less akin to a movie star slumming it than a school kid trying to over-impress at the annual nativity. He isn’t helped by terrible earnest turns from the ‘locals’, who include gamekeeper, innkeeper, turncoat policeman and some farmyard heavies who seem to have little to do except swing axes at heads. The villain, Rupert Hathaway (John Ronane), is beaten much too easily at every turn and offers no threat except his English accent. 

    Cliché follows cliché: Tony Curtis protects his new abode like a wild west homesteader, poncho, rifle, et al and once again Roger Moore rides to the rescue, this time accompanied by Hannah Gordon’s winsome Lucy, a fraud investigator posing as a bird watcher [“My favourite pastime,” quips Brett]. 

    Somewhere buried inside this untidy package is a counterfeit money laundering scheme but it arrives too late and a little too conveniently. The telling is let down by obvious double crosses, hopeless narrative editing [a plot element is a rope on a well, but it switches from frayed to brand new depending on when the scenes were shot, not on when they take place], the reuse of the same green field landing strip we’ve seen before in the previous episode, among others, and some hilariously bad ‘rose-tinted’ sequences as Tony Curtis imagines his country retreat in all its beauty. You can understand why Curtis in particular doesn’t seem to take the proceedings remotely seriously. 

    The whole exercise is a comedic crash landing of catastrophic proportions, so terrible it's watchable, you can hardly take your eyes off it from sheer dismay.

    Tony playing the cowboy in the West Country, Roger playing Roger...

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 17: Five Miles to Midnight

    Director: Val Guest

    Writer: Terry Nation 

    Starring Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Joan Collins, Laurence Naismith, Robert Hutton, Ferdy Maine, Jean Marsh, Ian Thompson

    Val Guest was responsible for Angie, Angie, one of the more acceptable episodes of The Persuaders and he succeeds again here with a mini-chase movie set in Rome and Northern Italy. While the locations are represented mostly by back-lot externals & interiors and stock footage, the guest stars, Joan Collins and Robert Hutton, are palpably real.

    Following the murder of a mafia kingpin and his wife, Judge Fulton (Laurence Naismith, always in sparkling form) sends Brett and Danny to the aid of Frank Rocco, an American ‘godfather’ about to turn State’s Witness who must be escorted safely over the border for extradition. Neither Persuader is particularly happy with the assignment, but spending time with Collins’ bosomy fun loving photographer Sid – short for Sidonie – would be enough to persuade any man to undertake the task. They decide to use her pick-up truck and she insists on accompanying them hoping to make a financial killing selling snap shots of Rocco’s escape to the newspapers. They’ve hardly left her apartment before the police are on the hunt and not even a nifty bit of driving at a roadblock can distract their pursuers. These early street scenes actually look as if they were shot in Italy, but like the remainder were probably filmed in France as the producers took advantage of the cofounding deal with French telly.

    Good performances abound however, particularly from Collins’ Sid, all enthusiasm and sauciness, and Hutton’s abrasive Rocco. Roger Moore too has a moment to shine; there is a quiet scene where we learn a little more about his past life and aspirations and why he works for the Judge. This kind of personal insight has been generally lacking in The Persuaders and it is nice to see a writer attempting to give a character more than a surface shine. The prerequisite humour is still in evidence, but it is presented with more style and adds to the action rather than detracts from it.

    Brett and Danny make fairly amateurish bodyguards and it is no surprise they end up surrounded by the police in the salon of an Italian mansion enjoying the hospitality of Count Sangallo [a refined Ferdy Mayne, a work-a-day actor always worth his salt]. The team escape and the chase continues in stolen police cars and on stolen push bikes until The Persuaders send Sid and Rocco over the border while they stay holed up in an abandoned shepherd’s hut. The eventual climax is a trifle flat, with a badly choreographed western-style gunfight bringing to mind memories of ‘Butch and Sundance’, only without the ultimate death scenes. It doesn’t really spoil anything, however.

    There’s a host of good stuff happening here: music, photography, acting and writing are all well above par; there’s even a mysterious prelude featuring a glazed, drug addled Jean Marsh – possibly the swiftest guest star role ever in a TV show – and an unexpected twist at the show’s end.

    Five Miles to Midnight is very, very good. I could watch it again and again.

    Dame Joan in sparkling good form...

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 18: Nuisance Value

    Director: Leslie Norman

    Writer: David Rolfe, Tony Barwick

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Vivienne Ventura, Ralph Bates, David Cargill, George Murcell, Ricardo Montes, Sarah Lawson

    The Persuaders have decamped to the Hotel Don Juan, apparently somewhere in Spain, but it’s clearly the same set used for The Old, The New and The Deadly. Likewise, the final confrontation plays out at the same sleepy deserted town featured in The Man in the Middle. There’s no other sense of déjà vu: the remainder of this thin episode is as awful as television can get. 

    Viviane Ventura is Lisa, a spoilt child so determined to marry her beau that she arranges her own kidnapping. Naturally Danny Wilde is implicated. To confound matters Lisa’s father, Zorakin – a scene chewing George Murcell – has past history with Danny and dislikes him intensely. Ralph Bates is the dreamer fiancé with an alternative agenda. 

    Nothing surprises in this straightforward, comic nonsense. It’s so bad none of the actors wanted to be listed as a guest star in the opening titles. Uniformly their performances are abysmal with Viviane Ventura’s grimly hysterical heroine the biggest misstep of all, eliciting no sympathy from the audience. The titular stars don’t help, although they have very little to work with. Director Leslie Norman, usually reliable, seems to have gone missing.

    It’s interesting to note this is the only episode of The Persuaders which credits two screenwriters. The script certainly needed rescuing, but neither has aided the other. You really can’t save this one and the only happy marriage the viewer gets is between Curtis and Moore, their characters confirmed bachelors one and all, heading off together into a Spanish sunset. 

    A bad one all round.

    A crowded cast in a crowded room

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,929MI6 Agent

    did we get to the one where Brett takes a sleeping pill, then someone attacks Danny in the next room and Brett is crawling along the hallway floor trying to help only to collapse midway and go back to sleep? or maybe I just drempt that Persuaders plot

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