Dec 9, 2007

No. 1 Of The Secret Service And Other Eurospy Treats On DVD

Videoasia released a DVD collection last week containing a number of hard-to-find spy and spy-related movies: The Grindhouse Experience Volume 2. You get twenty films on five discs, so I can't imagine the quality is much to brag about, but there are some very appealing films in the mix, including No. 1 of the Secret Service (released here as Her Majesty's Top Gun)! The Seventies didn't produce nearly as many Bond knock-offs as the Sixties (the heyday of the Eurospy genre), but director Lindsay Shonteff pretty much single-handedly kept the genre alive with his two Charles Bind films, No. 1 of the Secret Service starring Nicky Henson and No. 1: Licensed To Love and Kill starring The New Avengers' Gareth Hunt as Bind. Both movies also featured the Moore-era Minister of Defense, Geoffrey Keen, in the M-like role. In addition to being full-blown knock-offs in their own right of Seventies Bond, these were also unofficial follow-ups to the Sixties Bond knock-off series of Charles Vine movies, which Shonteff originated with Licensed To Kill (1965) starring Tom Adams. Supposedly Shonteff made another pair of "Bind" movies in the early Nineties, Number One Gun and The Running Gun, but I've never heard of anyone having actually seen them. (Please sound off below if you have!) But all of that is just a history lesson; the only Bind/Vine title included here is No. 1 of the Secret Service. One must go into any Shonteff movie with a certain willingness to settle, but it's a fun movie sure to please avid fans of Seventies 007.

But wait! That's not all you get in this set, spy fans! Also of interest is one of one of the few other lost Seventies Bond knock-offs (via blaxploitation), Mr. Deathman, the Eurospy classic O77: Mission Bloody Mary, 3 Supermen Against Godfather (1979) and Diabolik rip-off Phenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen (1968)! Chances are this print of Mission Bloody Mary won't hold a candle to the excellent one put out a few years ago by Dorado Films (who have finally updated their website and are having a fabulous sale during the month of December!), but it's a fun film nonetheless. As far as I know, those others haven't seen any sort of official release in the US before. I'm particularly excited about Phenomenal; it's one I've always wanted to see. The rest of the movies in this budget-priced set will probably also appeal to Eurospy fans in one way or another; a lot of them features actors well known from the genre.

3 comments:

The Solex Agitator said...

I saw NUMBER 1 OF THE SECRET SERVICE projected in 1977 under its original title on an Army base theatre in 1977. It also showed up on the late show on local Los Angeles TV back in the late 90's or so. This film holds some strange power over me.

Tanner said...

It's funny what having a personal connection to a movie will do for even the worst of films. But I think No. 1 is fun, and a cool movie to have that connection with!

The Solex Agitator said...

I just picked up The Grindhouse Experience 2 DVD set. The quality is, as expected, pretty bad. Most of these films (Including NUMBER 1) are sourced from faded and worn VHS tapes. Having said that, there is a certain trasy pleasure to be found on these discs. We have all loved MST3K for Pete's sake and visual qulaity was never a selling point there...