Friday 11 March 2022

Movie Review: One Spy Too Many (1966)

A lightweight spy adventure, One Spy Too Many mixes thrills with wit on a low budget.

A United States military base is infiltrated by henchman Parviz (David Sheiner). He helps his megalomaniac industrialist boss Alexander (Rip Torn) steal a new chemical weapon that eliminates the will to fight. Agents Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.) are dispatched by their boss Waverly (Leo G. Carroll) to investigate and retrieve the stolen gas.

They cross paths with Alexander's soon-to-be-ex-wife Tracey (Dorothy Provine), who is also hunting down Alexander to have him sign divorce papers and retrieve a million dollars he owes her. Tracey tags along with Solo and Kuryakin on a journey to Greece, where they encounter shady archaeologist Kavon (David Opatoshu), and uncover Alexander's plot to subjugate an Asian country as a first step towards ruling the world.

Director Joseph Sargent mushes together two episodes from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series, adds some saucy scenes of sexy flirtation, and emerges with a James Bond knock-off theatrical release. The third in the U.N.C.L.E movie series, One Spy Too Many never takes itself seriously, and the lighthearted attitude works. This is a fun adventure with bright ideas and sharp elbows, despite all the shortcomings.

The television origins are obvious, starting with the boxy aspect ratio. The sets look cheap, the evil plot is barely explained and jumps around between various disconnected objectives, and the action scenes are clumsily staged. The threat of violence is always more implied than real, and indeed Solo and Kuryakin make it through the film with a minimal infliction of bodily harm.

But plenty of fun can be found in many corners. Rip Torn is a worthy villain as Alexander (wanting to be Great), his low-key performance doing more with less, and Alexander's obsession with violating the Ten Commandments is a nice touch. His sidekicks and fellow bad guys are memorable, including the resourceful Parviz and muscleman Ingo (Cal Boulder). A life-sized chess match between Alexander and Solo using human pieces is clever. Solo and Kuryakin find themselves in plenty of good and humorous mortal danger: Solo is tied to a table in readiness for bifurcation, while Kuryakin first has to dodge lethal farm equipment then endures mummification.

Dorothy Provine is intentionally irritating in a Doris Day-type role as the extra and unneeded spy. The true infusion of sex appeal arrives courtesy of Yvonne Craig as U.N.C.L.E's omnipresent "control", intent on attracting Solo's attention, and Donna Michelle as a seductive princess. 

One Spy Too Many lacks polish, but embraces scrappy swagger.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.