The Ipcress File (1965) Poster


Two large Victorian terrace houses, at 28 and 30 Grosvenor Gardens, London, were used as studios. The two houses were converted into one huge house containing 40 rooms. These were enlarged or divided according to requirements. Fourteen rooms were used as studios. Other rooms were turned into dressing rooms, wardrobe department, hairdressing, make-up, production offices, a property department and a self-contained restaurant capable of feeding and seating 120 people! This all was kept secret to keep away sight-seers and autograph hunters. Even Michael Caine was driven to work in an inconspicuous car and had to sneak in the back way. As a front, a large sign was painted at the entrance to the film studios. The sign read "The Dalby Employment Agency".
Harry's glasses frames were dark brown, contrary to the widely held view that they were black. They were a style called "Teviot 74" manufactured by a company called UK Optical. They were already popular at the time for being a stylish and inexpensive alternative to the standard models that were issued for free by the National Health Service in Britain. They became even more popular after the success of this film. Len Deighton wore the same frames at this time. Those frames have been described by some as the first affordable "designer" frames available in the UK.
On the first day of shooting, Sidney J. Furie gathered the cast and said, "This is what I think of the script". He then set it on fire.
Harry's coffee pot is an Insta-Brewer. Executive producer Charles D. Kasher owned the patent on the product and Caine appeared in a print ad for it.
In the Len Deighton novels the name of the lead character is never revealed. So Michael Caine and producer Harry Saltzman tried to think of a boring name for the hero. Caine suggested "Harry" which Saltzman found rather amusing. Caine then remembered a boring classmate named Tommy Palmer. So "Palmer" became the surname.
Palmer is the first action hero to wear glasses (Michael Caine is myopic in real life). Caine chose to wear glasses because he expected the film to be the first of a series, similar to the Bond movies. He feared being over-identified with the character of Harry Palmer and so he wore the glasses so that he could remove them for other roles.
Michael Caine's Harry Palmer character is depicted as an accomplished cook, but when you see Palmer skillfully break a couple of eggs, the hands in the close-up belong to Len Deighton, author of the book on which the movie is based. Deighton himself was an accomplished cook and also wrote a comic strip about cooking for The Observer. The walls of Palmer's kitchen are full of these strips.
IPCRESS stands for Induction of Psychoneuroses by Conditioned Reflex Under Stress.
Three pairs of glasses were used by Michael Caine during filming. When all of these were broken during filming, production was held up for a day, until replacements had been found. After that, the prop department was stocked with 20 extra pairs of the Harry Palmer model glasses.
Although the narrator in the novel is nameless, at one point in the novel he is greeted by someone saying "Hello, Harry". The narrator then thinks "Now my name isn't Harry, but in this business it's hard to remember whether it ever had been."
Christopher Plummer was originally considered for the lead role, but dropped out to star in The Sound of Music (1965). The role was then offered to Richard Harris who also refused it. Harris later rued his decision, commenting to Sean Connery that he "turned down 'The Ipcress File' but did Caprice (1967) with Doris Day".
Harry Saltzman first suggested Harry H. Corbett for the role of Harry Palmer.
Producer Harry Saltzman hated director Sidney J. Furie and his oddball style and went so far as to bar him from the editing room. According to Furie, Saltzman also excluded him from the film's party at Cannes and even stole his best picture British Academy Award.
The main melody in the movie's score was played on a cimbalom - a type of Hungarian dulcimer - that provided the forlorn mood that composer John Barry was eager to create.
Joan Collins had been considered for the role of Jean Courtney.
This movie proved to be a major influence on the style and ambiance of the popular TV series, Mission: Impossible (1966). TV producer/director Bernard L. Kowalski had seen "The Ipcress FIle" and was so impressed he requested that a similar mood and urgency be emulated for "M:I."
Barbara Roscoe had a role in the film and appears in promotional stills. But her scenes were deleted from the final print.
In this 1965 film, the inter-city railway train from St.Pancras/Marylebone Station is hauled by a steam locomotive. It is amusing when watching this movie in the twenty-first century.
In the years following the film's release, Harry Saltzman claimed that he had fired Sidney J. Furie relatively early in shooting, and that Peter R. Hunt had really directed most of the film, with Furie only being credited as director for contractual reasons. Hunt denied this, however, and revealed that he had in fact tried to preserve Furie's original vision to the best of his abilities, despite Saltzman's attempts to do otherwise.
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