Aug 16, 2011

New Spy DVDs Out This Week: Eurospy Mania!

It's a big day for Eurospy releases in North America!

Thrillingly (and, I have to confess, utterly unexpectedly), VCI Entertainment is releasing one of my very favorite Eurospy movies on home video in this country for the first time ever, on DVD and—amazingly—Blu-ray! Hot Enough For June, also known as Agent 8 3/4, isn't necessarily one of the best of the genre, but it's just so charming that 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.) Plus, it's got a fantastic cast. 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. The Sixties Spy All-Star line-up includes 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. Hot Enough For June was previously issued in a very nice Region 2 disc from Network, but this is it's inaugural Region 1 edition. The VCI release is in 1.78:1 16x9 anamorphic widescreen and includes the trailer and a photo gallery. Retail is $24.99 for the Blu-ray and $19.99 for the DVD.

Also out today, from Code Red, is 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 can't confirm that, though; I haven't yet seen the disc. But if you don't own any version of The Killer Likes Candy yet, you'll definitely want to buy this one no matter what. 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 for $13.99).

1 comment:

Christopher Mills said...

I watched VCI's Blu-ray of HOT ENOUGH FOR JUNE (AGENT 8-3/4) last night. I'd never seen it before, but found it to be a charming film. The Blu-ray presentation is very nice, with bright colors, good detail, and only minimal incidents of speckling/other print damage. A few scenes look a little softer/grainier than others, but overall, it's a sterling transfer.