Jul 8, 2011

Upcoming Spy DVDs: Hot Enough For June for... August

"Camps" on the Eurospy Forum recently called attention to two exciting upcoming Region 1 DVD releases in the genre.

Hot Enough For June, also known as Agent 8 3/4, is one of my favorite Eurospy movies. It's not one of the best, but it's just so charming it's one of the ones I enjoy watching the most. (Being British, it's also notable for a significantly higher budget than some of the Italian and Spanish entries.) This 1964 spy parody came early in the 007-inspired wave, so it doesn't quite conform to the standard post-Goldfinger template for Eurospy adventures and still has one foot in the earlier spy cycle, but in the hands of Deadlier Than the Male's producer/director team of Betty Box and Ralph Thomas, it's all the better for that. It also boasts a fantastic cast, a sort of Sixties Spy All-Stars line-up including half of Deadlier's female duo, the sumptuous Sylva Koscina (whose glamorous looks often eclipse the fact that she's also got a wonderful light comedic touch, on full display here), Modesty Blaise scene-stealer Dirk Bogarde (one of my favorite actors) and The Prisoner's most memorable Number 2, Leo McKern. Noel Harrison (The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.), Robert Morley (Some Girls Do) and the always reliable John Le Mesurier (The Avengers, The Liquidator, The Pink Panther, etc.) lend support. The plot is simple enough: an out-of-work writer (Bogarde) gets sent on a job interview by the unemployment office that turns out to be British Intelligence's latest surreptitious recruiting effort. Unaware that he'll be acting as a courier, he jets off behind the Iron Curtain and falls in love with Koscina. It doesn't help that her father (McKern) is a bigwig in the secret police who, like everyone but Bogarde himself, realizes Bogarde is a spy. That bit about MI6 recruiting from the unemployment line is brilliant escapist fantasy (and struck a chord with me when I first saw this movie, at a time that I was collecting unemployment myself). It's a great set-up, and a really fun movie that any fan of that era's spy films should definitely see. And in August, that will finally be possible for American viewers!

VCI Entertainment will release the movie on DVD and, amazingly, Blu-ray on August 16. That same day, the company will also issue the 1958 Bogarde adventure movie Campbell's Kingdom (in which, to my amusement, at least, Bogarde plays an adventurer named Bruce Campbell!). There's no spying in that one, but fans of the actor may still be interested enough to check it out. (I've seen it pop up from time to time on TCM, too.) Hot Enough For June was previously issued in a very nice Region 2 disc from Network. The VCI release will be in 1.78:1 16x9 anamorphic widescreen and include the trailer and a photo gallery. My only gripe with it is the cover art. Hot Enough For June had so much good artwork used in its various campaigns around the world that it's one of only three spy movies (along with Deadlier Than the Male and Fathom) for which I've sought out a poster from every country of its release. We get a bit of that artwork along the bottom, but the top is taken up with a kind of weird picture of Bogarde and Koscina with an odd lens flare. Plus, they're going with the inferior American title of Agent 8 3/4. Oh well; none of that really matters. What matters is that we're getting Hot Enough For June on Blu-ray! I honestly never thought I'd see that happen. Retail is $24.99 for the Blu-ray and $19.99 for the DVD.

Making August 16 truly a red letter day for Eurospy aficionados, that same day will see release from Code Red of a double feature of Stoney aka The Surbaya Conspiracy (1969) and The Killer Likes Candy (1968). Code Red already released The Killer Likes Candy a few years ago as part of their Rare Flix series, and you can read my review of that disc (and the movie) here. That version was full-frame and the print left a lot to be desired, so I would hope that the reason for this reissue is because the company's found a better, ideally widescreen, source. I don't know that for sure, though, because that information hasn't yet been made available. But if you don't own any version of The Killer Likes Candy yet, you'll definitely want to buy it anyway. It's a very fun Eurospy movie starring Kerwin Mathews in one of his post-OSS 117 "almost-OSS 117" spy roles. Honestly, I don't know anything about Stoney beyond what the company's copy says, but that copy includes the phrases "international mishmash of espionage" and "Barbara Bouchet," so I'm definitely on board! Retail for the double feature disc is just $16.98 (though DiabolikDVD has it available to pre-order for $13.99). Plus, unlike VCI, Code Red churned out a cool, lurid cover using original poster art!


dfordoom said...

Hot Enough for June is great fun. The Dirk Bogarde spy movie that desperately needs a DVD release is Sebastian, which has as a bonus Susannah York as co-star.

Jason Whiton said...

can't wait to check out "8 3/4"! and don't forget, "the 10th victim" comes out end of august with my special features! i'll give away some copies in advance on spy vibe.
-jason (spy vibe)