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DANGER MAN - A Sting In The Tail, is an episode of the classic series
that beautifully demonstrates that, in the real world, nothing is
'black & white' - that for every 'good,' action, there's an equally
'bad' residue left in its wake.
Drake is after a notorious hit man - Rachid Noureddine - who has just assassinated his latest target, the Shah of Assimi, in Paris. From the phone call Drake receives late at night acknowledging this hit, it's readily apparent that Drake is familiar with Noureddine, and, wants to finally eliminate him.
After a hit, Noureddine quickly retreats to his home-base; Beirut, Lebanon (having gained independence from France only 20 years earlier, Beirut was nicknamed the 'Paris of the East,' for it's chi-chi tourism) as there is no way he can be extradited.
Drake needs to get Noureddine to leave Lebanon, and go to a place where he CAN be captured, and brought to charge.
His plan is to go to Beirut, where he will portray an artist, 'Stephen Miller,' who desperately wants to have Noureddine's girlfriend - Marie Valedon - agree to sit for a portrait.
Drake knows that by going after the one thing Noureddine loves, it will attract his attention - like a moth to a flame. If Drake can make Noureddine leave Lebanon to look for Marie, then, he will be able to grab him.
Preparations are made (he buys ALL of the art, supplies, etc. he will need for his performance from a REAL artist - named Stephen Miller), and, when Drake touches down in Beirut, he quickly sets up an art studio/loft, and then heads to the nightclub, where Marie is the house singer.
She is a quintessential '60's mysterious woman: jet-black hair, her eyes hidden behind dark shades, dressed in black, giving her pale skin more contrast. She sings a haunting version - in French - of the song SHE'S NOT THERE - a hit for THE ZOMBIES.
Drake, as 'Steven Miller,' makes his attraction to Marie's icy beauty very apparent - at times, calling her La Gioconda (referring to the painting better known as the Mona Lisa) - saying that Marie could be HIS Gioconda.
At first, Marie is put off, but, Drake's insistence quickly brings Noureddine's attention.
Drake must play his part - that of a starving artist. Even when Noureddine subjects Drake to torture to get him to go away, Drake can't show any strength - yet. He wants to bring Noureddine in, as close as possible.
He continues to work on Marie - lavishing compliments on her that begin to soften her, but, as I said at the beginning: this whole series is not just a simple 'spy' series - it shows how nothing is easily divided into 'good,' and 'bad,' and, what Drake must ultimately do, to ensnare Noureddine, involves destroying the illusions he's built up for Marie.
STING IN THE TALE is memorable for it's haunting music, and, for the very fine acting done here by such stalwarts as Derren Nesbitt (who would later appear in an episode of THE PRISONER as a Number 2), Ronald Radd, and of course - Jeanne Roland, as La Giocanda, Marie Valedon.
For anyone not familiar with DANGER MAN's hour long episodes, I'd definitely put STING I THE TAIL as one of the TOP TEN to see. It's a perfect example of the show being MUCH more than a 60's gadget-laden spy series.
One of the very best Danger Man / Secret Agent shows. It all came
together here; the story, the casting, the acting, and yes, the
direction. This is Peter Yates' directorial debut for Danger Man. He
will go on to direct a total of seven episodes. If you don't know,
Peter directed Steve McQueen in 'Bullitt', a movie renowned for one of
the best car chases ever filmed. Yates is a master at building tension,
and this gift contributes nicely to this fine installment of Secret
Agent. You witness tension building in a slow, delicious way in both a
dinner scene where Drake (pretending to be artist Steven Miller)
prepares to get held down and beaten up, and later in a fight scene at
the end of the episode.
Drake is going up against what I deem is one of his most formidable opponents; an assassin named Rachid Noureddine, played brilliantly by three-time guest star Darren Nesbitt. The only foe that comes close to Rachid appears in 'Whatever Happened to George Foster' with Bernard Lee playing the rich, corrupt, and immensely powerful Lord Ammanford.
Darren, as assassin Rachid, is no mindless killer in this installment. He is almost as smart as Drake, almost as cool as Drake, and has a frequent, bone-chilling smile. Drake, as artist Steven, taunts Rachid by willfully avoiding eye contact whenever they converse. Rachid counters by calling Steven by name so often it turns into an insult. It goes right down to the wire with these two.
Added to this delightful recipe is the spicy character actor, Ronald Radd, making his second DM appearance, this time as the playful but fiercely loyal landlord Alexandros. Ronald gets totally into character and is great fun to watch.
Others have already commented quite adequately on the femme fatale Marie Valedon, played by the lovely Jeanne Roland. The show pivots around this woman.
In the spy gadget department, Drake is newly equipped with a wrist watch that can inject a fast acting paralyzing agent when a needle (stinger) is summoned from its core. It's this device that gives Drake the edge against 'team Noureddine' when push comes to shove.
"Sting in the Tail" is among the very best episodes of Patrick
McGoohan's series "Secret Agent". It has everything going for it--a
beautiful girl, a crazy-dangerous foe and a tense and unusually violent
When the show begins, Noureddine (Derren Nesbitt) sneaks out of Beirut and assassinates a Shah. Drake's job is to go to Lebanon and get Noureddine to leave the country so that he can be brought to justice. Noureddine is a cool customer and his one weakness is his girlfriend, Marie Valedon (Jeanne Roland*). So, Drake's plan is to convince the killer that he and Marie have run off together--hoping that the hot- tempered Noureddine will follow them to Paris--and be arrested. However, the plan does not go as planned at all and it's up to an unusual ending to rid Drake of his problem.
One of the best things about this show was Jeanne Roland. While she was very convincing as a French-speaking woman, Jean Rollins (her real name) is very British as was simply smashing playing her character. Likewise, Darren Nesbitt was an unusual villain--cold, cruel and one scary guy. Together, they give McGoohan excellent support in this one and the writing is also tense and effective. Well worth seeing.
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