Mrs. Emily Pollifax of New Jersey goes to the CIA to volunteer for spy duty, being in her own opinion, expendable now that the children are grown and she's widowed. And being just what the ...
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Mrs. Emily Pollifax of New Jersey goes to the CIA to volunteer for spy duty, being in her own opinion, expendable now that the children are grown and she's widowed. And being just what the department needed (someone who looks and acts completely unlike a spy), she's assigned to simple courier duty to pick up a book in Mexico City. But when the pickup doesn't go as plan, Mrs. Pollifax finds herself handcuffed to a handsome stranger on a plane bound for an Albania prison. And it's up to her to get them out. Written by
WILHELM SCREAM: When the soldier falls off the cliff after seeing Mrs. Pollifax and Farrell hiding. See more »
When Mrs. Pollifax looks in the mirror at the reflection of her hotel door, the digits of her hotel room number (700) should all be mirror images, including the "7" digit, but although the digits are correctly reversed in their order (007), the "7" is NOT reversed, as its mirror image actually would be. This is presumably because the film-makers didn't want the audience to miss the allusion to James Bond's number, 007. See more »
Closing credits epilogue: Research for this film was done from a documentary picture-"The Three Faces of Communism" which was filmed in present day occupied Albania. See more »
An unusual take on the spy / secret agent genre, Mrs. Pollifax represents a sideways look at what audiences had become accustomed to in the just-ended sixties, which were dominated by James Bond, his campy imitators and flashy, young femme fatales. The closest anyone came to this in the previous decade, in terms of a female spy, was probably "Fathom," starring a very young Raquel Welch. This one presents actress Russell in her final theatrical film, as a retired housewife and recent widow who strolls into C.I.A. headquarters and volunteers for the 'dirty tricks' business. There's a certain charm attached to this scenario and it continues throughout the film. Mrs. Pollifax, though entering her twilight years, is nowhere near senility, is very well spoken and seems sharper than most of the people around her. Her character was created in a series of mystery novels by Dorothy Gilman, kind of an American version of the British sleuth 'Miss Marple.' Russell also had a hand in the script, writing under a pseudonym. The tone of this film is kind of a cross between the tongue-in-cheek escapades of elderly adventurers and serious spy business, so it may strike some as a bit uneven. For example, even though Pollifax faces definite danger during the story, the filmmakers also throw in a sight gag referencing famous agent 007. In the plot, the C.I.A. rep expectedly dismisses Pollifax at first as a harmless eccentric, but there happens to be a simple courier job available in Mexico which the rep's boss (Elcar) thinks she is well suited for. And off we go.
I first saw this film only recently, having heard about it once or twice over the past 30 years. I was taken a bit by surprise as to the direction the story veers off to. Based on the rather bland atmosphere of the introduction and first few scenes at C.I.A. HQ, I expected Pollifax to have some sort of silly short adventure in Mexico, similar to a TV episode, and head back to the USA for more repartee with her supervisors and other agents. However, the courier job, which involved simply picking something up in a bookstore, does not go as planned: Pollifax finds herself leaving Mexico on an airplane heading to parts unknown with another captured agent, the seasoned & cynical Farrell (McGavin, just before "The Night Stalker"). After debarking the airplane at gunpoint, they're transported by automobile until the road runs out somewhere in the mountains and head further into the boonies via mule. By this point, I was thinking, what the hell is all this? They end up in the most isolated prison for spies imaginable, somewhere in Albania. Things looked very bleak but Pollifax is a 'never say die' type of dame and soon charms most of the guards and wardens (Persoff, Gould and John Beck in a very early role). The exception is Perdido (Paulsen), the one in charge, and it's clear that the two prisoners will eventually be executed. Pollifax soon takes charge of 'the mission' (mostly now an escape plan), despite Farrell's long experience in these matters. This kind of keeps you guessing most of the way, and, despite the slow spots in the early sections of the film, there's enough suspense to keep your attention to the very conclusion. Mrs. Pollifax would not return on film, as it happens, though there was a TV Movie in the nineties. Heroine:8 Villains:6 Male Fatales:7 Henchmen:5 Fights:4 Stunts/Chases:6 Gadgets:3 Auto:5 Locations:7 Pace:6 overall:6
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