Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais are amongst the major figures in UK TV comedy, responsible for The Likely Lads, Porridge, Auf Wiedersen Pet and many others. They bought dramatic sensibilities to sit-coms and created richly worked – edgy - characters. It’s a magical mix and one that most comedy fails to achieve.
In their early careers they also tried their hand at a number of films including Villain, Hannibal Brooks and the wonderful Otley with Tom Courtney, Leonard Rossiter and the ethereal Romy Schneider.
Catch Me a Spy falls into the genre of spy-spoof and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It hasn’t got the wit and balance of Otely, the plot is predictable and meandering but is enjoyably daft throughout with some good moments from a talented cast – Kirk Douglas is funny and scary at the same time: who else can do that?
|Funny and scary?|
|The French always had more soccer style...|
He is duly “arrested” on the couple’s honeymoon in Romania forcing Fabienne to call in favours from her Uncle and his band of hapless Brit-spies. In Bucharest she encounters a suspicious individual, Andrej (Kirk Douglas) who allegiance is unclear… and who places something in Fabienne’s case under the guise of room service.
|What do you mean: "cut-price Kirk"?|
An attempted exchange of a rather well fed Russian agent goes awry when, weighed down by his decadent western bounty, he cracks through the ice during the border exchange… Fenton has to return to his well-heeled captivity whilst the Brits are at a loss: they don’t have anyone important enough to exchange.
|Tom Courtney in a hat, in a pub|
|Isabel Dean, Trevor Howard and Wilfrid Brambell|
|It's called style dear...|
They awake, hand-cuffed together in the back of a van heading through Scotland (shades of The 39 Steps…). But they manage to dive free of the van and run off through a herd of cows and across the glens where they take refuge in a hotel on the banks of Loch Awe.
|Kirk checks the temperature|
Needless to say there’s a few twists and turns before the rather contrived ending but it’s light-hearted fun overall.
I watched this film along time ago in the family sitting room and it’s nostalgic on many levels. Structurally it’s not much different from many comedic takes on the spy genre and the only certainty is that there’s no certainty: betrayal is a matter of course.
|Drinking in his every word...|
The rest of the cast do their bit with Trevor Howard and Tom Courtney the stand outs amongst a host of top-notch character actors.
|That is a hat|
Dusty verdict: Ignore the lower-ranking Amazon reviews, this is a bit of fun and well worth keeping the VHS (or renting from Netflix) for unchallenging entertainment and some totally gratuitous, swinging 70s dresses.
|Angharad Rees defends her dress sense...|
|Fabienne looks out for spies...|
|Kirk presses the button|
|Baxter follows Fabienne at the RAH|
|What are the 39 Steps?|