Ted Danson plays a computer genius who gets involved in the theft of an important NASA computer, then thrust into the world of espionage with Christopher Lee.



(teleplay), (story) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Chenault
Paige Tannehill
Marcus Valorium
the Lady
Dr. Webster
Terry Lester ...
Jo McDonnell ...
Christine (as Yuliis Ruval)
Irena Ferris ...
Gary Dontzig ...
Vicky Perry ...
the Cashier
Chief (as John R. Hostetter)


Ted Danson plays a computer genius who gets involved in the theft of an important NASA computer, then thrust into the world of espionage with Christopher Lee.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Attention James Bond Fans! This is Your Kind of Movie! See more »


Action | Thriller | Drama


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Release Date:

19 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lethal Games  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Watch for a mysterious costume change near the end of the film. One minute, Paige is wearing a rather sexy skintight yellow catsuit, the next she's wearing a top and stretch pants, with the pants in a slightly different shade of yellow! See more »


Marcus Valorium: How many years has it been now?
Jack Chenault: Twelve.
Marcus Valorium: And seventeen days.
Jack Chenault: That's a great memory.
Marcus Valorium: I don't like losing, Chenault.
See more »


References You Only Live Twice (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

Quite horrible...
19 December 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

ONCE UPON A SPY is a deservedly unknown 1980 TV movie that stars up-and-coming Ted Danson as a computer programmer who unwittingly gets drawn into a spy plot that's straight out of a James Bond movie. And indeed this turns out to be a Bond spoof through-and-through, with the unfortunate added side-effect that it's also quite horrible.

Rarely have I seen a film in which the acting is so stilted or the narrative so predictable and boring at the same time. Danson displays none of the charisma that would make him a household name in time, and his attempts at flirting and romance with token blonde Mary Louise Weller are, to be frank, excruciating. ONCE UPON A SPY is truly a movie of its era, with cod attempts at feminism (think CHARLIE'S ANGELS style tough fighting women) mixed in with the normal "saving the girl" routines and some quite appalling jump suits that make the female cast look both fat and frumpy (although they're neither).

Bizarrely, Hammer scribe Jimmy Sangster had a hand in the screenplay, although quite what he was thinking I don't know. Keeping on the Hammer theme, we get Christopher Lee as the villain, riffing on his MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN persona. I felt sorry for him, soiled by his appearance in this; I remember his comments about breaking free of Hammer and making it in Hollywood, but even latter-day Hammer efforts like THE SATANIC RITES OF Dracula are a hundred times better than this trash. Definitely a film to be consigned to obscurity, and for good reason.

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