Hot Enough For June Agent 8 3/4 (1964)
This is perhaps the very first imitation Bond in cinema. That’s not entirely a compliment but there is something to be said about being first. After this, the floodgates were certainly opened and the next 10 years and beyond will see an unprecedented deluge of derivative or satirical works.
I enjoyed Dirk Bogarde well enough and Sylva Koscina was certainly more than pretty enough for her role. I was surprised at how flexible Mr. Whistler is to changing situations, he actually does quite well. It’s not really an accidental spy or common man turned hero spy, it’s more of an “almost tricked into being a spy” movie. In reality, it’s less about that and more about a young man who takes on a job outside and above his means in a foreign country where he meets and falls in love with a girl who has a disapproving father. In the end, it’s any association at all with the slowly breaching juggernaut of James Bond that kills this one dead in the water. On it’s own, it’s funny and playful and really enjoyable.
And I suppose that’s the final verdict. It would have stood well enough on its own especially with Ralph Thomas at the helm and with Robert Morley and Leo McKern. It should have. But it didn’t. By conscious choices, those making the film disastrously sold the narration as an effort at riding coattails.
But it was a lot of fun to watch.
p.s. The actual film-making is quite good and it’s easy to forget that this movie is almost 50 years old.