The 60s Bond Rivals (2): Harry Palmer

2

Comments

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,902Chief of Staff
    Too young... yeah... 8-)

    You've never seen any of these films, Higgins? I'm surprised.
  • HigginsHiggins GermanyPosts: 16,366MI6 Agent
    Nope, never seen a Harry Palmer film! Seriously!
    President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

    Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,902Chief of Staff
    Naturally, I wouldn't dream of linking you to where you could watch one of the films online so here's John Barry's theme from the first one- enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2Jw6_Xgszk
  • Golrush007Golrush007 South AfricaPosts: 2,918Quartermasters
    My first viewing of The Ipcress File was thanks to a free promo dvd given away in the The Mail on Sunday which also included the great Brief Encounter.

    $_35.JPG

    Shortly thereafter I purchased the 2-disc DVD as well as the DVDs of Funeral in Berlin and Billion Dollar Brain which I have rewatched many times since then. A great trilogy which I enjoy revisiting often. I also found a dvd of Midnight in St Petersburg a few years ago. I still haven't got my hands on Bullet to Beijing, although to be honest I am not very bothered about watching it.
  • HigginsHiggins GermanyPosts: 16,366MI6 Agent
    Barbel wrote:
    Naturally, I wouldn't dream of linking you to where you could watch one of the films online so here's John Barry's theme from the first one- enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2Jw6_Xgszk

    Thanks Barbel -{

    In my country, every video of any of the Palmer movies is locked :#
    Will get the DVDs occasionally and blame you for the loss just in case that I don't like them :D
    President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

    Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!
  • Matt SMatt S Oh Cult Voodoo ShopPosts: 6,522MI6 Agent
    I'd be shocked if anyone here didn't love The Ipcress File. I think it's one of the best spy films of all time. The other two aren't as amazing, but they're still good nonetheless.
    Visit my blog, Bond Suits
  • HigginsHiggins GermanyPosts: 16,366MI6 Agent
    well, you and Barbel like the Dalton movies :v
    I wonder what else you guys have hidden in your basements then 8-)
    President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

    Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!
  • Matt SMatt S Oh Cult Voodoo ShopPosts: 6,522MI6 Agent
    Higgins wrote:
    well, you and Barbel like the Dalton movies :v
    I wonder what else you guys have hidden in your basements then 8-)

    Though Harry Palmer lives a mundane life compared to even Dalton's Bond, there's also an element of fantasy in his films too that adds excitement on a level Dalton doesn't experience.
    Visit my blog, Bond Suits
  • HigginsHiggins GermanyPosts: 16,366MI6 Agent
    Higgins wrote:
    Barbel wrote:
    Naturally, I wouldn't dream of linking you to where you could watch one of the films online so here's John Barry's theme from the first one- enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2Jw6_Xgszk

    Thanks Barbel -{

    In my country, every video of any of the Palmer movies is locked :#
    Will get the DVDs occasionally and blame you for the loss just in case that I don't like them :D


    Just ordered the Icpress Files on Blu Ray. It's GBP 6,-- on Amazon UK
    President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

    Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,902Chief of Staff
    Was reminded of this thread by another one in Off Topic. Did you ever get that film, Higgins? What did you think?
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,228MI6 Agent
    for those of you in Toronto:

    The IPCRESS File is going to be up on the big screen, Thurs March 26 2020!
    at the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles (which is a mighty civilised neighbourhood)
    more info
    with an introductory talk on designing the style of 1960s espionage movies.


    I've been searching in vain for a copy of this film on dvd for ages now, so you can bet I'll be there
    unless somebody brainwashes me first.
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,040MI6 Agent
    There are other threads on this, surely? Though this one goes back a bit. Oh, it's linked to an event in Toronto. Event in Toronto - sounds like a Palmer movie!
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,095MI6 Agent
    Matt S wrote:
    I'd be shocked if anyone here didn't love The Ipcress File. I think it's one of the best spy films of all time. The other two aren't as amazing, but they're still good nonetheless.

    Must admit I think Funeral in Berlin is the best of the three: it’s just got the better plot. Ipcress is certainly more stylish and feels bigger somehow, but it’s also a bit too stylish in places: I really don’t need to see all those ceilings! :) And the plot kind of falls apart a bit towards the end- Funeral has a much more satisfying way of tying it all up if you ask me. Ipcress is more of a ‘movie’ though, certainly.
  • clublosclublos Jacksonville, FLPosts: 193MI6 Agent
    emtiem wrote:
    Matt S wrote:
    I'd be shocked if anyone here didn't love The Ipcress File. I think it's one of the best spy films of all time. The other two aren't as amazing, but they're still good nonetheless.

    Must admit I think Funeral in Berlin is the best of the three: it’s just got the better plot. Ipcress is certainly more stylish and feels bigger somehow, but it’s also a bit too stylish in places: I really don’t need to see all those ceilings! :) And the plot kind of falls apart a bit towards the end- Funeral has a much more satisfying way of tying it all up if you ask me. Ipcress is more of a ‘movie’ though, certainly.

    I definitely see where you're coming from on that opinion. Funeral has a fantastic if intricate plot but Ipcress set the standard. Have you read the books?
  • Golrush007Golrush007 South AfricaPosts: 2,918Quartermasters
    edited March 2020
    Funeral in Berlin has always been my least favourite of the three Palmer films, and it isn't because I don't like it. It just doesn't compare favourably with the other two films in certain aspects:

    - Ipcress, and to a slightly lesser extent Brain, have unusual and stylised cinematography which I really enjoy. Funeral looks fairly plain by comparison.
    - Ipcress and Brain both have excellent scores, and I'm not mad about the score from Funeral.
    - Ipcress and Brain both have very good supporting casts, whereas I find Hubschmid and Renzi a bit forgettable. Of course Funeral does have the excellent Oscar Homolka, but Brain has him as well.

    On the other hand, Funeral does benefit from being shot in Berlin, which is probably the most quintessential spy city in the world. And it also has my favourite bit of dialogue in the series:
    - Bitte mein herr.
    - No, Lowenbrau please.
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,095MI6 Agent
    clublos wrote:
    emtiem wrote:
    Matt S wrote:
    I'd be shocked if anyone here didn't love The Ipcress File. I think it's one of the best spy films of all time. The other two aren't as amazing, but they're still good nonetheless.

    Must admit I think Funeral in Berlin is the best of the three: it’s just got the better plot. Ipcress is certainly more stylish and feels bigger somehow, but it’s also a bit too stylish in places: I really don’t need to see all those ceilings! :) And the plot kind of falls apart a bit towards the end- Funeral has a much more satisfying way of tying it all up if you ask me. Ipcress is more of a ‘movie’ though, certainly.

    I definitely see where you're coming from on that opinion. Funeral has a fantastic if intricate plot but Ipcress set the standard. Have you read the books?

    I tried reading Horse Under Water years ago when I heard they considered it for the fourth film, but I gave up as I found it really boring! :) I should certainly try the others though.
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,095MI6 Agent
    Golrush007 wrote:
    Funeral in Berlin has always been my least favourite of the three Palmer films, and it isn't because I don't like it. It just doesn't compare favourably with the other two films in certain aspects:

    - Ipcress, and to a slightly lesser extent Brain, have unusual and stylised cinematography which I really enjoy. Funeral looks fairly plain by comparison.
    - Ipcress and Brain both have excellent scores, and I'm not mad about the score from Funeral.
    - Ipcress and Brain both have very good supporting casts, whereas I find Hubschmid and Renzi a bit forgettable. Of course Funeral does have the excellent Oscar Homolka, but Brain has him as well.

    On the other hand, Funeral does benefit from being shot in Berlin, which is probably the most quintessential spy city in the world. And it also has my favourite bit of dialogue in the series:
    - Bitte mein herr.
    - No, Lowenbrau please.

    I've always thought that was a superb joke too!

    I get what you mean about all of those points (although I do like the score to it, I must admit): it's a bit more like a TV special than a movie when you compare it to Ipcress- Ipcress is certainly the more impressive artistic piece of work, but I just find it a more interesting watch and I love the part that Harry plays in it. Billion Dollar is extremely similar in respects to his part in it as (SPOILERS AHEAD!) he meets an old friend of his who is actually trying to doublecross and use him: Harry's approach is to take a back seat and play a cleverer, quiet game of his own.

    I'd certainly say that Billion is the weakest of the three though- it starts well but it just gets flatter and flatter and then it all goes a bit too weird and Ken Russell-ish at the end.
  • clublosclublos Jacksonville, FLPosts: 193MI6 Agent
    I agree with Billion Dollar Brain, it's definitely the weakest of the three but it has its moments.

    And to the comments about the score for Funeral, I don't much care for it. I bought it on vinyl last summer along with Ipcress but, even though Ipcress is a bit repetitive, I prefer it over Funeral.

    The books are great, but different. Deighton's doesn't spoon-feed the reader so you have to work to get through the novels, especially Ipcress, but it's a very satisfying read. The main beats from Funeral were carried over into the film from the novel, but there are some interesting differences.
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,095MI6 Agent
    Oh don't get me wrong: the Ipcress soundtrack is rightly regarded as a classic! Funeral's isn't anywhere close, but I do like the jaunty German-themed theme tune, and the love theme is rather nice too.

    I'd like to see Palmer get a reboot in some way: he's sort of like the spy version of Columbo- all of his enemies underestimate him and think they've got the upper hand and mistake his passiveness for lack of skill or cunning.
    There was a Radio 4 adaptation of Ipcress a few years back with Ian Hart in the lead, must give that a listen.
  • clublosclublos Jacksonville, FLPosts: 193MI6 Agent
    A reboot would be interesting... not sure if it should be period or current. But definitely interesting.

    I've never heard of the BBC Radio 4 adaptation, I'll have to search that out. Thanks!
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,228MI6 Agent
    for those of you in Toronto:
    The IPCRESS File is going to be up on the big screen, Thurs March 26 2020!
    at the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles (which is a mighty civilised neighbourhood)
    more info
    This screening has been cancelled (hopefully postponed) because of coronavirus.
    Too bad, I was looking forward to finally seeing The IPCRESS File, more than Bond25.
    But I was already planning not to go, so I'm not surprised they decided to shut the theatre.
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,228MI6 Agent
    edited June 2020
    I finally got the chance to watch the IPCRESS file!
    Still I'd rather have seen it on the bigscreen with a lecture beforehand. damn you coronavirus!!!


    This is an excellent adaptation capturing the spirit of the book and most of the plot.
    The cluttered, asymmetric, almost random compositions capture both the effect of Raymond Hawkey's cover artwork and Deighton's writing style.
    Ken Adam is prominently credited for Production Design work on the film, yet I see none of the sparse futuristic set design I associate with him. Was he responsible for the grey shabby locations and the sense of clutter? Its the brainwashing scenes that look most like typical Adam (sound effects courtesy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop).

    and I think its really cool Saltzman himself set out to make a spy film as opposite to Bond as could be imagined. Basically cornering both ends of the spyfilm market.


    The plot drops the two foreign digressions and sort of adapts the main plotpoints of those scenes to London. I think they make even less sense relocated.
    Also the girlfriend is introduced in a different way, already working for Dalby when Palmer first arrives, and she is apparently a mole within the department. Leading to the excellent dialog as they seduce each other: "I'm working for Dalby, you're working for Ross." "No you're working for Ross, I'm working for Dalby."

    A couple plotpoints I still don't understand:
    Why did Dalby negotiate the return of the last scientist? By doing so, it was revealed the scientist had been brainwashed, which would have remained unknown otherwise.
    and
    Who had Palmer captured on the train? Dalby tells him to disappear, I don't think Palmer tells him he'll be taking the train. Palmer tells his girlfriend, she tells Ross. So Ross knows where he is but Dalby doesn't
  • SpectreOfDefeatSpectreOfDefeat Posts: 333MI6 Agent
    I agree- The IPCRESS File is a stylish and gritty alternative thriller that exists happily alongside Bond without outright parodying it, like so many other 60s spy capers do.

    I also profess some enjoyment of the 1971 Ken Russell entry Billion Dollar Brain, the dictionary definition of the word 'weird'. Worth a watch if you want to see what a Bond film laden with odd direction, portentous symbolism and slow, almost dreamy action might be like...



    Though some would say that particular Bond film already exists and is called SPECTRE :))
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,228MI6 Agent
    edited July 2020
    Last night I watched Billion Dollar Brain!

    Unfortunately I cant find Funeral in Berlin anywhere online, doubly too bad since BDB is sort of a sequel to FiB, in that a couple of the major characters reappear.
    (Billion Dollar Brain is on Dailymotion *, a slightly dodgier alternative to youtube )

    I think only Maurice Binder and Syd Cain are involved from our gang. Binder does some very trippy titles based on digital database type imagery, and Syd Cain contributes a classic villains headquarters, complete with sliding doors and hundreds of minions.

    Director is Ken Russell, who I only knew from Tommy and Altered States, but I've seen images from his other films, which usually seem to be some Aubrey Beardsley inspired decadence. He slips a bit of such imagery into this film too, and is allround very visually selfindulgent, maybe comparable to Terry Gilliam without the jokes, completely obscuring what is already a confusing plot. Great shots of Helsinki though.

    Villain is played by Ed Begley, but the film is dominated by Karl Malden as Harvey Newbegin (now renamed Leo, perhaps so as not to be confused with Harry?). Hey he was the villain in that Matt Helm film I just watched last week! I think of Karl Malden as one of Brando's very serious method actor collaborators, so its a surprise to see him hamming it up in these mid60s SpyCraze flicks. He is much better here than in Murderers Row, a completely untrustworthy con-artist who is himself a tragic dupe.

    The Texo-fascist imagery at the villains American compound is rather disturbing, just glad thats only make-believe and could never happen in real life! right? right? ...er, right? Well, probably safest to say it's only make-believe, I don't want any trouble.
    Still, the film ends with...
    a privately funded American invasion of Latvia being defeated by the Soviets, and made to literally disappear without a trace under the icefloes
    ..and thats meant to be a happy ending. Well it is, but that's rather subversive stuff for a spyfilm at the height of the Cold War!

    One image I spotted that was borrowed by Austin Powers: Palmer meets Newbegin and his ladyfriend in a sauna where they're both naked and he's not. Newbegin is letting it all hang out as he talks to Palmer, and the shot is composed so Palmer's head is blocking from our view the naughty bits even he doesn't want to have to look at.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,902Chief of Staff
    BDB is a guilty pleasure for me; I know it's not as good as the first 2 (or isn't generally reckoned to be) but I really enjoy it. Caine goes without saying, and the colourful characters make up for a plot in which Palmer doesn't really do very much (most of the plot could take place without him). Love the score!
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,228MI6 Agent
    Michael Caine does a lot of standing calmly and staring back ironically while the supporting actors ham it up!
    and plotwise I think you're right, Colonel Stok has it all under control, he doesn't even have to ask Palmer if he's learned anything while undercover, just advises him to keep out of the way.

    I didn't mention Stok in my film report. Oscar Homolka hams it up beautifully, and brings to life my favourite character from the books.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,902Chief of Staff
    Exactly, totally agree. Caine's standing calmly and looking ironic is exactly like the (unnamed) character from the books, and Homolka just is Stok.
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,095MI6 Agent
    It's a while since I watched it, but Palmer does do his usual thing of letting the protagonists tie themselves in knots while he does a quiet little clever thing, doesn't he? I do rather like the idea of the plot though- a private army lead by a madman who thinks he's doing good but will actually start a proper war. And all of the 60s trappings are really nice: the opening sequence and credits are fantastic, with that lovely bit of Richard Rodney Bennett.

    I kind of enjoy it but it does have a pretty massive flat spot where not much happens and my interest dips. Give me Funeral In Berlin any day: I just think that's the best one.
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,228MI6 Agent
    finally found the middle one Funeral in Berlin streaming online.
    (not on a very nice website however, I gave my browser history a good scrubbing after I was done watching)

    I only notice Guy Hamilton and Ken Adam from our gang. and again, I'm not seeing those typical futuristic Bond-style sets so wonder what Adam is contributing.
    Not so visually radical as the first or third film, but this is more than made up for by the incredible footage of Berlin, both west and (apparently) east and multiple shots of the Wall. Well worth watching with finger on the pause button just to see what Berlin used to look like at the height of the Cold War. Were the scenes purporting to be in the East actually filmed there?
    There's even a key scene in a transvestite bar (Harry says "see you later luv" to the fat ugly drag-queen hostess as he's leaving! nothing phases our cool ironic 'Arry Palmer)

    The story is simplified from the book, but still confused the heck outta me.
    Was anybody ever meant to be in that coffin if the plan succeeded?

    Was Guy Hamilton maybe responsible for adding the funeral home content to Diamonds are Forever? Bond smuggled the diamonds inside golf balls in the book, the coffin scheme was substituted in the film. The two schemes to smuggle something across a border inside a coffin seem similar now that I've seen the earlier film.


    Now I gotta look for that boxset with the later two movies noone seems to like. Definitely want the three good ones for the permanent archives, and hope upon repeated watches the plots might finally make sense!
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,095MI6 Agent
    I think it's popped up on Blu Ray somewhere recently.
Sign In or Register to comment.