Monday, 6 June 2011

From the Orient with Fury (1965)

1965 is slap bang in the middle of the golden age of the eurospy movie, and From the Orient with Fury (Agente 077 dall'oriente con furore) is a pretty typical, and also a pretty entertaining, example of the breed.

Like most such movies it uses the basic template established by the early James Bond movies - fiendish plots by diabolical criminal masterminds, exotic settings, the world of the international jet set (there always has to be at least one scene in an expensive gambling casino), beautiful women and a dashing sexy secret agent hero.

In this case the secret agent hero is Dick Malloy, Agent 077. He is called back urgently from vacation to take on a vital case. A top scientist has been murdered, except that the medical examination has cast doubt on the identity of the corpse. It seems likely that Professor Kurtz has in fact been kidnapped. He was working on a new top secret disintegrating ray so it’s crucial that Malloy find both the vanished scientist and the plans for the disintegrating ray.

Any scientist worth his salt naturally must have a beautiful daughter and Professor Kurtz is no exception. Romy Kurtz is also understandably anxious to find her missing father. What Dick Malloy doesn’t yet know is that there are two sets of bad guys on the trail of the disintegrating ray. There will be multiple double-crosses before this case is solved.

With only a fraction of the budget available to the producers of the Bond movies eurospy directors had to be masters of the art of making cheap movies look glamorous and expensive and Sergio Grieco (who was involved with all three Dick Malloy movies) does this fairly well. Of course the spectacular stunts and sets of the Bond movies were out of the question but there’s plenty of action here and the pace is maintained throughout.

Istanbul had been a popular setting for spy stories for decades and it became equally popular with European exploitation film-makers in the 60s and 70s. It works well in this case as well.

Agent 077 is played by Ken Clark. Clark’s career failed to take off in the US but in the 60s if you were an American actor with the right rugged square-jawed hunky action hero look you could always get work in Europe and Clark was kept busy in Italian movies throughout the decade. He’s a perfect eurospy hero.

Margaret Lee and Evi Marandi provide the necessary glamour. Evi Marandi was a classic eurobabe who pops up in lots of movies of this period (such as Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires).

While other European exploitation genres have been very well represented on DVD, often in superb presentations, the same cannot be said of the eurospy movies. In most cases fans are grateful to see them at all. Dorado Films has done a reasonable job with From the Orient with Fury. It’s in its correct aspect ratio and picture quality is acceptable although hardly stunning. Only the English dubbed version is included. Considering that most eurospy films are only available in very shoddy pan-and-scanned fullframe transfers even a mediocre transfer is a bonus!

There were three Dick Malloy/Agent 077 movies. This is not quite as good as Special Mission Lady Chaplin (it doesn't have nuns with submachine guns for one thing) but it’s still thoroughly enjoyable. I haven't yet tracked down a copy of the very hard-to-find Special Mission Bloody Mary.

No comments: