Another of these vague “battle of the sexes” ideas so popular in the sixties, this time instead of an all female world domination operation like The Million Eyes of Sumuru there’s an evil chess-playing Bond-villain man at the helm, which kinda undermines the title a bit. Also, similar to The Million Eyes of Sumuru there’s a sort of heroic secret agent chap, and his jocular young ward following up the leads and generally being lady-killing dashing fellows.
There’s a bit less of the sadomasochism aspect in this one, but the completely hysterical wickedly chancy operations–for example, sky-diving from a plane you’re blowing up and just happening to virtually land in the little speedboat operated by your partner in arms–keeps a modern audience amused. It’s hard to tell, frequently, how seriously we’re supposed to be taking the tale as these sorts of spy-adventures are often more of a self-spoof if they’re played straight.
Our hero, played by Richard Drummond, is a bonafide Judo practitioner , so I had to give him some love for his scarf-hold on an opponent in the first moments we meet him. And as per the secret agent handbook, he’s a suave British dude, who excels in all the finer things. I can’t imagine receiving a box of cigars in this day and age, but presumably it was not unusual at some point in history. Of course, the cigars are the trick bullet-loaded kind so beware! I also may be reviving the turtleneck, it could be a thing!
Elke Sommer is eye-poppingly wonderful as the lead hench-woman, spending much of her time in bikinis and slapping faces, and generally stage-acting her reactions to things (very big!).
There is some amusement once our hero, Bulldog, is face to face with the villainous Peterson (played by a regular old movie face, Nigel Green (who even once played Hercules!)) as Peterson is tremendously chatty about plans (in typical villain style) and has some extraordinary guffaws and gestures. The last act, which includes an immense chess set that moves as slowly as a sunflower, is quite enjoyable.
The baddies get theirs and I have to say I was a bit put-off by gorgeous Elke’s demise, though, I suppose after the ladies getting naught but wrist slaps in the Flint films, and basically portrayed as wayward children in various other “gender threat” features, it was probably right to give the ladies a typical finale. I’m just kinda sexist and preferred the wrist slaps for the beauties I guess. I’ve read that beautiful people get an easier life, even when they are criminals–tending toward gentler sentences as they’re easy on the judge’s eyes–so actually it’s running against grain if we do treat Elke the same as Oddjob (or Chang in this film). But I don’t have to like it.
It’s a bit funny that the lobby card, below, basically just plays to the sexuality of the film, when it’s every bit as devilish and murderous as any Bond film of the era.
For Free on Prime friends! It’s a fun, sexy, stylish romp.