John Preston is a British agent with the task of preventing the Russians detonating a nuclear explosion next to an American base in the UK. The Russians are hoping this will shatter the 'special relationship' between the two countries.
Harold, a professional gambler, and his girlfriend Bonita, a lounge singer, follow Willie, a young blackjack dealer, around the western U.S. Harold has a jinx on Willie and can't lose with ... See full summary »
A war veteran tries to investigate the murder of his son who was working as a Russian translator for the British intelligence service during the Cold War. He meets a web of deception and paranoia that seems impenetrable...
A British agent's son is kidnapped and held for a ransom of diamonds. The agent finds out that he can't even count on the people he thought were on his side to help him, so he decides to track down the kidnappers himself. Written by
The picture's opening credits had the words of its billings formed out of characters that were children's lettered playing blocks. See more »
In the roof garden where Tarrant's wife sends the toy fire engine down the slide towards him, as Tarrant turns to re-enter the house, the reflection of the boom mic can briefly be seen in the glass doors behind. See more »
The opening credits are formed from images of children's alphabet blocks. See more »
Very nice supporting cast + some fine scenes disappointingly makes an average movie
Don Siegel acknowledges one big mistake in his autobiography: due to a writers strike he ended up rewriting the script while he was also preparing the shoot as a Producer-Director. He should never have rushed to make this movie under such conditions. Then he puts the blame on Universal who, in the beginning, suggested he managed all three jobs, then, decided to release it as The Black Windmill, a title which bears no relevance with what the movie is about.
Sure, the storyline is far from flowing and it's a pity since there are so many fine performances in it. Donald Pleasance, John Vernon, Delphine Seyrig, Catherine Schell to name a few. Roy Budd's score is wonderfully in line with the atmosphere too. With all these, Don Siegel should really have been able to blame himself for his trademark flaw: used to shoot low budgets with lots of energy he forces a minimalistic loner hero inside the story. In his previous movie, Charley Varrick, it worked much better since the plot was more simple (aftermath of a bank robbery) with only a couple of important characters. Charley Varrick already lacked character development, but with Michael Caine, a counter-espionage civil-servant stuck between his bosses, his wife and the villains, it really bogs down the whole narrative.
It's a real pity so many things just don't add up to a tense situation. There is nice interaction in some scenes involving female characters, but basically the plot is not streamlined. One final word, Don Siegel style: the ending, as in Charley Varrick, is quite unsatisfactory. Not that it should be changed to some other outcome, but all good directors know how to close an action movie shortly after the ending climax. I don't know why Don Siegel would add some "post-coïtum" shot, having you wondering about some final twist, but no, it was just some fancy shot demonstrating how much the screenplay wasn't polished enough.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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