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Harry Palmer has left the British Secret Service and become a private detective. One of his first assignments is to deliver an apparently innocent thermos flask to an old friend in Helsinki, Palmer is suspicious of the flask contents and begins to doubt the motives of his friend and those of his boss a Texan billionaire. Written by
Dave Jenkins <email@example.com>
Otto Heller, who was the cinematographer for the first two Harry Palmer films, was supposed to work on this film but would not submit to a medical examination and so the production could not hire him. See more »
Train wagon in Russia was marked VR which is Finnish Railways acronym meaning Valtion Rautatiet. See more »
I suppose a young man like you wouldn't know the pleasure of removing a tight collar.
I thought Lenin called such comforts 'momentary interest'.
Don't tell me what Lenin said. I touched Lenin. I stood by him in Ruzheinaya Square in July, nineteen hundred and twenty; the second congress. I touched him. Those are the words he used to describe the comforts and pleasures with which the proletariat are diverted from their more important historic mission. But I am not being diverted. Well, are you ...
[...] See more »
strange and VERY different from the first two Harry Palmer films
As an admirer of the first two films THE IPCRESS FILE and FUNERAL IN BERLIN featuring Michael Caine as Harry Palmer, I was excited to finally get a copy (pan and scan, with Spanish subtitles)of the obscure third entry in the series BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN, which also was the breakthrough film (in the US at least) for director Ken Russell, who'd worked primarily in British TV before this. It starts out promisingly with Palmer's seedy office and the promise of an exciting new case and reinstatement into the intelligence community. As Palmer goes to Helsinki, it continues well and features fascinating, little-seen locations in Finland. Oscar Homolka is wonderful as a Russian operative who knows Palmer from way back and helps him find his way through a strange land. However, as the film veers off into the wacko anti-communist cult led by Ed Begley (in a performance that would be more fitting in a serial like THE LOST CITY than a serious feature film) and gives a lot of attention to dated computers that huff and puff and don't look at all threatening, it loses a lot of steam and often treads into cartoonish territory. The scenes that are supposed to be set in Texas are laughable--it's certainly no part of Texas I've ever seen. Karl Malden is a fine actor, but he's given very little to work with here, and I hope I never again see him with his shirt off in a sauna. I'm not familiar with Ken Russell's TV work prior to this feature, but his over-the-top style seen in films such as LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, the outrageously entertaining CRIMES OF PASSION, and LIZSTOMANIA is hinted at here with the ridiculous right-wing movement led by Begley and the computer-as-monster motif that takes up too much time in the film. A villain must have some level of believability to him for the audience to be fearful of him--even Ming The Merciless in the old serials had a convincingly real quality to him even though he was played in an exaggerated melodramatic style. Begley (and I blame both the script AND the direction here, not Begley, as he had been a subtle and nuanced actor elsewhere--surely Russell was egging him on to play the character so broadly) is not "real" for a minute in this role, and thus the threat he poses both to the hero and to the world for that matter was never taken seriously by me, leading to a lack of suspense, even though there was a lot of action and intrigue and narrow escapes, and the film was fun to watch. Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind to appreciate the film. If a letterboxed version is ever released in the USA, and if I'm in the proper mood to take the whole film as satire, perhaps I'll retract my comments and "get" the vision of the filmmakers. Until then, I'd recommend the film only to Harry Palmer fans who have always wanted to see the film and to Caine fans--Caine is, after all, the one major element of the film (along with its fine photography and musical score) that can't be faulted. Ken Russell fans might want to check it out also, as many of the elements for which he's (in)famous are already in evidence.
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