Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

The Assassination Bureau

Every so often I run across a piece of classic cinema worth mentioning. I can't say that 1969's "The Assassination Bureau" is a classic, but it sure is fun. A recent discussion brought up the film, and I realized I'd neve seen it. As a huge fan of Diana Rigg, I realized this omission had to be rectified, and fortunately Georgie was able to obtain a video through the library system.

It must immediately be noted that this movie is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the Jack London novel it was inspired by. It has been given the fully Hollywood treatment and been transformed into a Technicolor romantic comedy cum caper film which is just plain candy. Set in the early 20th Century, Rigg plays a young modern woman intent on working into the journalistic profession by breaking the story of the Assassination Bureau, which is headed by (a very young) Oliver Reed. Even though this is post her "Avengers" run, Rigg does a very good job of acting young and innocent, which is quite different from the worldly Mrs. Peel. Interestingly enough, this film came out in the same year as her turn as Tracy DiVincenzo in the much more sophisticated James Bond film, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." In fact, "Assassination Bureau" is very much a period piece in more than one way, having a lot more in common with films like "The Great Race" or "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" (both 1965) or "Five Weeks in a Balloon" (1962) including the gorgeous period sets and costumes, cast of usual suspect character actors in the supporting roles, and the occasional sappy soundtrack song. Reed puts in a workmanlike job as an action hero, showing, among other things, a fine fencing form he would refine in "The Three Musketeers" and many other swashbucklers. Telly Savalas is cheerfully villainous as Lord Bostwick, and all are ably supported by their international cast of henchmen.

Thourough fluff. No sex, bad language, nudity, or even blood (most of the deaths take place tastefully off stage). However, the plot is at best morally questionable (murder for hire), so perhaps best for children old enough to understand what "satire" is.
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