Secret Agent Fireball starring the agreeable but aggressively bland Richard Harrison. It wrapped up a year later with the (2006) Casino Royale-like franchise reboot Fury in Marrakesh, in which Stephen Forsyth took over the role playing a younger, leaner Fleming fresh out of spy school. (I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek giving it credit as a prequel; in all likelihood the only real thought that went into it was that by using the same name the producers could at least piggyback on the moderate success of their first two films. I don’t know why Harrison was unavailable.) Those two movies were both released on DVD in crisp widescreen transfers by Swedish company Fin de Siecle. (Reviews here and here, respectively.) In between them, however, came another Harrison entry called Our Man in Casablanca (also known as Killers Are Challenged), and now it’s finally made an appearance on another impressive widescreen Swedish DVD, this time from Njuta Films.
Inglourious Basterds) made surprisingly few Eurospy movies, but his other primary entry in the genre (excepting the solid giallo Naked You Die, which takes a strange spy twist only in its final minutes), Lightning Bolt, is one of my favorites, so I was quite keen to see his take on Bob Fleming. Unfortunately, Our Man in Casablanca is probably the weakest entry in the series, and while it appears to have a bigger budget than Lightning Bolt (or maybe the beautiful North African locations just give that impression), it lacks the wild creativity that made that film so much fun. Nevertheless, those locations, serviceable lead Harrison, and a veritable all-star roster of the genre’s most beautiful women (not to mention Njuta’s high-quality transfer) all make it still worth watching for fans of the genre.
4DK, fellow blogger Todd pointed out that it seems rather unsporting for a spy to take on killers who are challenged) begins in a very confusing manner: there’s a man in a cemetery with a flashlight and a toy helicopter that blows up and a plastic surgery patient wrapped up in bandages and some ladies (Janine Reynaud and Mitsouko) in some sort of command center, and then there’s Richard Harrison chasing the guy with a new face. Only after all that do we finally cut to the standard spy briefing (held, as per Eurospy tradition, in the standard room with the standard curtain subbing for one wall; boss’s offices with four walls were well beyond the budgetary limitations of most Eurospy flicks), in which we finally learn that the guy with a new face (called Coleman) is a scientist who was “doing research on the structure of molecules.” Okay, now we’re getting somewhere!
|These productions could rarely afford four solid walls for their office sets|
“If there had been arsenic in the drink,” he explains, “the synthetic jewel in my ring would have lit up.” In other words, the prop department had an ordinary ring and wanted to make it an impressive gadget, so they did so with dialogue! And it’s precisely that kind of ingenuity that makes Eurospy movies so enjoyable. This movie’s full of that sort of gadget, like an impressive little doohickey that’s really a bomb.
OSS 117 parodies), Bob Fleming is as suave as ever. In the film’s opening moments, when a hospital orderly tries to stop him from entering Coleman’s room by explaining that it’s past visiting hours (in other words, just doing his job!), Fleming lifts the little man up and hangs him by his coat on a handy coat rack, chuckling at his expense. You can tell he was the jock in high school who liked to give nerds like Coleman a good flushing.
|"Don't mind me spying on you in the shower. I'm a professional spy."|
|"This is what I think of your foreign culture!"|
I'll leave you now with three final examples of Richard Harrison demonstrating typical Eurospy suaveness:
Diabolik DVD. (It goes in and out of stock, so keep checking back.)
For other opinions on this film, you can watch a video review at Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill, and Jeremy Duns, author of the Paul Dark spy series, left his own thoughts on the movie in a comment on my post about its DVD release here.
Read my review of Secret Agent Fireball, starring Richard Harrison as Bob Fleming, here.
Read my review of Fury in Marrakesh, starring Stephen Forsythe as Bob Fleming, here.