Friday 6 May 2022

Movie Review: How To Steal The World (1968)

A low-budget spy adventure, How To Steal The World is devoid of wit but stocked full of bad special effects and disinterested acting.

Near Macau, UNCLE agents Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum) fail to capture THRUSH leader Mr. Webb (Peter Mark Richman), who escapes with the help of Margitta Kingsley (Eleanor Parker). She is the wife of UNCLE agent Robert Kingsley (Barry Sullivan), who soon disappears. Solo and Kuryakin are dispatched to investigate.

From his headquarters in the Himalayas, Robert has hatched a well-intentioned plan to eliminate world violence by releasing a docile gas. He assembles seven renowned scientists to help perfect the formula, and hires General Harmon (Leslie Nielsen) to provide base security. Unbeknownst to Robert, Mr. Webb and Margitta are monitoring his every move on behalf of THRUSH, waiting to pounce and usurp his world domination plans.

The eighth and final feature film cobbled together from television episodes of The Man From UNCLE, How To Steal The World is a tired affair, operating well past the series' best-by date. The hallmark joie de vivre is gone, replaced by a sense of fatigue. Vaughn and McCallum go through the motions with robotic indifference, Solo and Kuryakin rarely actually doing anything other than offering themselves as targets. The clever banter and winks of humour are replaced by long stretches of silence, the Norman Hudis script apparently not even trying. 

The rest of the cast members operate in bland or over-animated modes, while Eleanor Parker manages both, lounging on her back when she's not vamping for the camera. Leslie Nielsen as the general eager to create peace through violence is too far removed from reality to classify as either intentionally funny or unintentionally awful.

The story is an over-complicated and still nonsensical control-the-world plot cluttered by too many scientists donning monk robes (?), while THRUSH adds a muddled conspiracy on top of a conspiracy. Worse of all are the truly atrocious visual effects, director Sutton Roley frequently inserting stock footage whenever a shot is too expensive for the television-level budget. The discontinuous, jarring, and cheesy results start to carry dangerous echoes of none other than Plan 9 From Outer Space

Lacking even Jerry Goldsmith's music, How To Steal The World is a lesson in incompetent opportunism.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.