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Spy chief Sebastian Cabot manipulates former agent Robert Horton
"The Spy Killer" is filled with double-crosses as Sebastian Cabot, who was once Robert Horton's spy boss 5 years earlier, manipulates him back into doing what he wants him to do. Cabot can be very nasty, even to Horton, and that makes this story and its follow-up ("Foreign Exchange") tick. Horton has to contend with the Eastern bloc spies, but even more does he have to contend with those supposedly on his side! His opposition is actually easier to get along with. Horton has to think ahead, and knowing what Cabot is up to or guessing it, he is continually finding angles to pressure Cabot who, in turn, finds way to pressure Horton right back.
There is good tension and occasional gunplay and tense moments in which it looks to me like Horton did some of his own stunts. He looks agile and in good shape. He delivers his sharp lines extremely well, in fast retorts. Jill St. John is Horton's girlfriend. She's vulnerable as an occasional pawn in the spy games.
This one's all about a notebook that contains 15 names in code, the names of agents. The retired Horton is virtually framed into a murder so that Cabot can get his hooks into him again. Horton gets the notebook, but then his independent streak sets in.
The director was Roy Ward Baker, who was extremely experienced and capable. The writer was Jimmy Sangster, another pro. In this film, these talents work together very well indeed. This and its followup are both recommended.
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