Hammerhead is a very Sixties spy movie. It just oozes its era. It’s hip; it’s happening; it’s with it… or at least it desperately wants to be. It oozes what its filmmakers thought was its era, a zeitgeist captured on film that probably only ever existed in films. But that version of the Sixties is also my version of the Sixties, perfectly in keeping with every other cinematic depiction of the era made by directors who weren’t themselves part of the youth movement. (David Miller was pushing sixty when he made Hammerhead.) There are youths in this movie, and boy do they move. The Sixties are in full Swing everywhere that secret agent Charles Hood goes. From the impossibly of-its-time piece of hippy street theater that opens the film (it includes mannequin dismemberment and topless cellists) to the perpetual, never-ending beach party that concludes it, youths are moving everywhere, gyrating to wild, psychedelic music. There are several happenings, a couple of nightclub acts and even one of those doors that someone could open up in the Sixties behind which beautiful women seem to always be go-go dancing to far-out music. (See also: Killer Likes Candy.) It’s great. I want one of those doors in my apartment! The beautiful woman go-go dancing behind this particular door is Beverly Adams, looking at her absolute best in a tiny micro-skirt. And that door is located on a yacht. Could it get any better? Perhaps I better backtrack and set the scene.
A beautiful, free-spirited flower child named Sue Trenton (Judy Geeson, from Hammer’s Straight On Till Morning) who took a liking to Hood after hiding out, nearly naked, in his car to escape a hippy happening in London that was being busted up by the cops, follows him on the train to Lisbon and insinuates herself into the same situation he’s in to be closer to him. Going to such elaborate lengths, surely she must be an enemy agent with her own agenda, right? Perhaps, but then again perhaps she is just a free spirit who does that sort of thing on a whim. This is the kind of movie such a character could easily inhabit.
The plot moves along very quickly—so quickly that it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t all quite make sense. Most of it does, anyway, and there are more than enough happenings to distract from any parts that don’t. The action is good, if not non-stop. There's a cool motorcycle chase during which the camera gleefully zooms in on Sue's bouncing, miniskirt-clad posterior as she clings to the back of a motorcycle being driven down some stairs by Hood. Hood himself gets beat up a lot, and the fights are surprsingly violent considering the film's carefree tone. Hood spends a fairly substantial chunk of the movie stuck in a coffin, but at least he’s got Judy Geeson to keep him company. The two of them have been packed in for a burial at sea, yet manage to maintain a proactive role in an exciting and extended chase sequence even from within the box. Others caught up in the antics include Kenneth Cope (Randall & Hopkirk, Deceased) as a misguided motorcyclist and a local taxi driver who proudly announces that his taxi is brand new. Naturally, he ends up sitting atop his brand new taxi on a sandbar as the tide comes in all around it.
on MOD DVD in a beautiful print much better looking than the one represented here. Get it!] Also sad is the fact that it didn't generate any sequels, as there was a whole series of Charles Hood novels by James Mayo and I would have loved to see Edwards spy again. C'est dommage.
Now I'll leave you with some more images of youth culture gone mad!