The Ipcress File (1965)
It was really great. It’s interesting to see one of the early “professional spy” movies with the emphasis still on counterespionage and detective work. It’s nice to see it also in the early and later Bonds which is no coincidence as Ipcress producer Harry Saltzman is most famous for his work with the Bond films. Funny thing is that he’s not a volunteer but has been blackmailed into spy work by Ross which continues the fine tradition of recruitment by blackmail, accident, patriotism etc. of other contemporary movies. Still has training and paperwork and chains of command however so it is still a move away from common man as spy and towards trained professional.
Len Deighton did with spy work in his novels what Michael Crichton has done with science in his – taken some of the more dramatic elements and taken them a step further while lending them an air of factual-ness you can only find in fiction. Ipcress brings in MKUltra work, brain drain fears, the increased relative value of scientists during the Cold War reducing them to commodities, government corruption, etc.
This was a very British spy film and a change in personality for the protagonist spy: he becomes less establishment and more affable and human all while achieving what his merely mortal colleagues cannot. As a consumer of more modern cinema fair, it will be hard not find parallels in some scenes 40 years later in V for Vendetta.
There were some plot points never resolved but this was definitely a great example of the next evolution of spy movie away from the Hitchcock model. Go see it!
p.s. The Ipcress scenes were reminiscent to me of the terrible boat ride 6 years later that some children took. Except far less disturbing.