A Field Guide To Eurospies Of North America
It's hard work being a Eurospy fan, and it's a tough genre to get into if you're interested, because despite the popularity of other Euro genres, like the Spaghetti Western and the Giallo, relatively few Eurospy movies are released on DVD–even on specialty labels–and they rarely play on TV. We're fortunate that authors Matt Blake and David Deal have provided fans new to the genre with an excellent roadmap in the form of their absolutely essential Eurospy Guide, a veritable catalog of nearly every Eurospy movie of the Sixties with wonderful, informative and often funny reviews. But even once you've got The Eurospy Guide, it's still frustrating. So many of the tantalizing movies reviewed are unavailable! Sure, there's a "grey market," as it's politely called, full of 16mm film transfers, often full-screen and never remastered in any way, but perhaps you're wary about venturing onto unfamiliar websites so early in your quest. (Even though there are quite a few good ones out there, some of which I'll mention below.) And there's a thriving fan community, earnestly trading rarities among themselves, and in some cases creating amazing "fandubs" or "fansubs" to make foreign titles available to English speakers for the first time ever. But that's somewhat underground and rather tough to penetrate for a neophite. So where do you start? Well, it happens that there are actually a lot more Eurospy titles legitimately available here in America than you might think. No, not nearly as many as those other genres I mentioned, and not always that easily findable. To rectify that, it's my objective here to provide a comprehensive round-up of all Eurospy movies officially available through mainstream stores and websites on Region 1 DVD. Yes, for now I am just compiling Region 1 titles for simplicity's sake; perhaps in a future post I will do the same thing (with your help) for world-wide releases.
I'm just going off of my memory and the part of my own collection that's not buried under countless other DVDs, so there are sure to be omissions. Please help me by posting any glaring omissions you notice in the comments section or emailing me, and I will add those titles to this list. (I'm really hoping that people point me in the direction of some I didn't even know about, too, as I'm always on the lookout for spy movies I haven't seen!) I'll continue updating it, too (as new titles become available or old ones become discovered), so that it remains a viable database of where to acquire these wonderful James Bond knock-offs of the 1960s!
Note: While in some cases it might make sense to shop around, please consider buying these titles through the Amazon links included here, as a small percentage of those sales would go toward maintaining this site, which has eaten up hours and hours and hours of my life for the past three years, but certainly doesn't make any sort of profit! Thank you.
One of the slickest and very best Eurospy movies of all, Deadlier Than the Male, is available in widescreen from Hen's Tooth Video. Read my review here.
Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik was available in an excellent, widescreen special edition DVD from Paramount, but is now out of print. However, used copies are still readily available. Read my review here.
A very nice widescreen transfer of Lightning Bolt is available at a bargain price as part of the Code Red Collection Rare Flix Triple Feature Volume 4. This is infinitely superior to the Sinister Cinema release of this title, so don't be fooled. Read my review here.
A fullscreen version of Killer Likes Candy is included in the Rare Flix Triple Feature Volume 2. Read my review here.
One of my very favorite spy movies, Otley, recently became available as a nice anamorphic widescreen DVD-R through Sony's "made on demand" (MOD) program Columbia Classics On Demand.
The Executioner, a gritty Eurospy drama starring George Peppard, is also available on a Columbia Classics DVD-R.
Duffy, starring the great James Coburn in the scenic South of France, is available as a DVD-R from Columbia Classics On Demand. This is more of a con man film, but has all the trappings expected of the Eurospy genre.
Kommissar X Collection from Retromedia. The print quality is questionable, but you can't beat the price and this is still one of the best introductions to the genre out there. Read my review here.
Ring Around the World, starring Richard Harrison, is available in fullscreen on a double feature disc with Terminal Force from Retromedia. The latter movie isn't worth watching, but the disc is still a steal for Ring alone. Read my review here.
Espionage in Tangiers is available in a beautiful widescreen transfer on a double feature disc with the giallo/Eurospy hybrid Assassination in Rome from Dark Sky Entertainment. Read my review here.
Retromedia also offers a Dr. Mabuse Collection triple feature containing decent (if somewhat incomplete) fullscreen prints of The Return of Dr. Mabuse, The Invisible Dr. Mabuse and The Death Ray of Dr. Mabuse.
Image's widescreen version of the superior 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse is sadly out of print, and rather costly used.
Special Mission Lady Chaplin, another great introduction to the Eurospy genre starring Daniela Bianchi and Ken Clark, is available in a beautiful widescreen transfer from Dorado Films, a small company that champions the genre. A reissue with a new cover is planned, but there is no timeframe for it.
From the Orient With Fury is another widescreen Ken Clark "077" offering from Dorado.
Mission Bloody Mary, also starring Clark as Dick Malloy, Agent 077, is also available in widescreen from Dorado. A reissue with a new cover may be in the future.
Dorado have collected all three of those movies together in a box set called How Europe Does Babes, Bombs and Guns. This bargain-priced box set also includes a fourth, bonus title, only available here: Electra One. The set can be ordered exclusively from Dorado's website.
Jess Franco's Kiss Me Monster and Two Undercover Angels are available in excellent widescreen transfers as the Red Lips Double Featurefrom Blue Underground.
Franco's The Girl From Rio (aka Future Women aka The Seven Secrets of Sumuru), an illegitimate sequel to the unavailable Million Eyes of Sumuru) is also available from Blue Underground, in a full-on Special Edition with a nice transfer, poster gallery and interviews with Franco, Shirley Eaton and others.
Perhaps the most famous Eurospy movie of all, though probably the least typical, Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville, is available in an excellent transfer from The Criterion Collection. I hear it's going out of print soon, though.
The One Eyed Soldiers, starring Luciana Paluzzi, is available in a rather poor fullscreen transfer from Substance, a quasi-grey market outfit. There's also a DVD-R version from Synergy, and I don't have any information on that one. Perhaps it's better quality? Unlikely, but it's considerably cheaper.
Madigan's Millions, starring Dustin Hoffman (that's right, Dustin Hoffman made a Eurospy movie before he was The Graduate!), is available in fullscreen from Troma. It's not worth that price, so it's fortunate that there are also cheaper versions available.
Claude Chabrol's Who's Got the Black Box? is available in a very nice subtitled, widescreen transfer from Pathfinder Home Entertainment.
The Quiller Memorandum, are available from Fox. This is an excellent, widescreen special edition.
Modesty Blaise was available from Fox, but is now sadly out of print. Luckily, it's not that expensive used.
The Defector, starring Montgomery Clift, is available in a very nice widescreen transfer on DVD-R through Warner Archives.
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, starring Vincent Price, was available as part of MGM's Midnight Movies line. It's now out of print, but available cheaply used. Its Bava-directed sequel, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs, was released by MGM on VHS, but sadly never on DVD.
Code 7, Victim 5 starring Lex Barker is available in a surprisingly nice (for the value) fullscreen transfer from budget label Geneon. It's very cheap!
Subterfuge, starring Gene Barry and Joan Collins, is available in fullscreen on a budget double-feature disc along with The Cape Town Affair.
The Cape Town Affair is also available in widescreen from AFA Entertainment. I haven't seen this version, but the movie isn't worth that price! Read my review of it here.
The Return of Mr. Moto, the 1965 Eurospy reboot of the classic Peter Lorre series stars Henry Silva(!) as everyone's favorite Japanese secret agent and is available in its entirety as a bonus feature on Fox's Mr. Moto Collection: Volume Two–complete with a commentary from Silva!
The Man Outside, starring Van Heflin, is available on a budget triple-feature disc called Classic CIA/KGB Movies. The other movies are Laser Mission and The Deadly Recruits, and none of them are very "classic." Still, you can't beat the price!
The Eurospy/Costumed Adventurer hybrid Fenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankaman is included in the set Grindhouse Experience 2, along with 077: Mission Bloody Mary in a vastly inferior version to Dorado's. Fenomenal itself is pretty awful (read my review here), but the set's still worth it, though, for an acceptable version of the Seventies Bond knock-off Her Majesty's Top Gun (Number 1 of the Secret Service) and the entertaining blaxploitation spy movie Mr. Deathman.
The much, much more enjoyable Eurospy/Costumed Adventurer movie The Fantastic Argoman is available in an iffy transfer from iffy label Substance, but a sure-to-be-better widescreen version is supposedly on its way from Dorado, so you might want to hold off for now... Read my review here.
Speaking of that curious Costumed Adventurer (superhero/supervillain) subgenre, Mr. Superinvisible (starring Disney stalwart Dean Jones!) is also available from Substance.
Argoman's cousin makes his legitimate DVD debut next month when Code Red issues Superargo and the Faceless Giants on their Exploitation Cinema: Wacky Taxi / Superargo double feature.
The Cobra, starring Peter Martell and Dana Andrews, is paired with the Martell Spaghetti Western Ringo the Lone Rider on a double feature disc from Wild East.
Daniella By Night, starring Elke Sommer, is–surprisingly, for a movie so obscure–available... though in an allegedly poor fullscreen transfer from First Run Features.
Secret Agent Super Dragon, starring Ray Danton, isn't available in America in its proper form (although it is in Germany), but it is available in a corrupted (but funny) version in The Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Collection, Volume 12 from Shout! Factory. Read my review of that version here.
The High Commissioner, starring Christopher Plummer, is available in widescreen from MGM.
Crossplot, starring Roger Moore, is available in widescreen from MGM.
Vendetta for the Saint, a compilation of two episodes of the Roger Moore TV show released theatrically in Europe, is available from MPI with a commentary track by Moore.
The other cobbled-together Saint movie, The Fiction Makers, is available in its movie format on A&E's out of print TV collection The Saint: Set 6.
The strange 1964 spy parody A Ravishing Idiot (Une Ravissante Idiote), starring Brigitte Bardot and Anthony Perkins, is available in French with English subtitles from Vanguard.
The awesome Peligro Mujeres en Accion (aka Danger Girls) is not actually a European spy movie, but a Mexican one (featuring Alex Dinamo, the Mexican James Bond!)–but it certainly feels Eurospy, and it stands up with the best of them. Unfortunately, it's never been dubbed into English and, making matters worse, the version available on this triple-feature disc not only lacks subtitles, but color as well. Though the film was shot in color, this murky print is for some reason black and white.
Those are all of the legitimate Region 1 Eurospy DVDs that I'm aware of as being currently available in the United States, but there are other resources for the genre's more (unjustifiably) obscure titles through those gray-market websites like Something Weird Video, Video Search of Miami, Super Strange Video, Atlas Visuals, Blood Times Video and Sinister Cinema. Most of these companies offer their product on DVD-R, and the quality fluctuates wildly from title to title. As I mentioned before, some are terrible, grainy 16mm pan-and-scan transfers, some are cut or edited for telivision, and some don't even offer any English language options–but others are surprisingly polished widescreen transfers. When it comes to this kind of product, collectors of rare films have long ago learned to take whatever they can get. After all, anything is better than nothing. Sinister Cinema titles are the easiest–and cheapest–to order, because the company has a deal with Amazon offering many of their releases for the incredibly low price of just $8.99 apiece. Some of their DVD-R Eurospy titles available on Amazon include:
Island of Lost Girls (another Kommissar X title)
Death Trip (likewise)
Target For Killing
The Scarlet Baroness
Mission to Venice
Man on the Spying Trapeze
Operation Gold Ingot
None But the Lonely Spy
Spy Today, Die Tomorrow
Seven Golden Men
Seven Golden Men Strike Again
Mission Top Secret (aka Matchless)
The Spy I Loved
Agent For Panic
Multiple Eddie Constantine titles, including:
Franco's Attack of the Robots (review here)
Make Your Bets, Ladies
Your Turn, Darling
License to Kill
And nearly all the Jerry Cotton movies (excluding, unfortunately, the terrific Death in a Red Jaguar):
Murderers' Club of Brooklyn
Broadway's Deadly Gold
Death and Diamonds (review here)
The Trap Snaps Shut At Midnight
Manhattan Night of Murder
All that may just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the hundreds of titles covered in The Eurospy Guide (or discussed on the Eurospy Forum, another excellent resource for fans of the genre) but it's certainly a good starting point in building a Eurospy collection. And by listing them all in one convenient place, it goes to show that there are actually a lot more titles easily available to the average consumer than one might imagine. I hope this post gives curious newcomers to the genre a good shopping guide, and maybe even tips off the most seasoned collector to one or two titles he or she may have overlooked. But as I said at the beginning, I'm bound to have missed a few titles, so if you know of a Region 1 Eurospy title that's commercially available in the United States but not listed here, please leave a comment about it below or email me and I'll add it to the list! In the future, I do hope to get around to that similar buying guide for Eurospy DVDs available in other regions all over the world, so stay tuned for that... eventually.