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Harry Palmer is depicted as an accomplished cook, but when you see Palmer skillfully break a couple of eggs, the hands in the close-up belong to Len Deighton, author of the book on which this movie was based. Deighton was an accomplished cook and also wrote a comic strip about cooking for The Observer. The walls of Palmer's kitchen are full of these strips.
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Palmer is the first action hero to wear glasses. (Sir Michael Caine is near-sighted in real life.) Caine chose to wear glasses because he expected this movie to be the first of a franchise, similar to the Bond movies. He feared being over-identified with the character of Harry Palmer, and so he wore the glasses so that he could remove them for other roles.
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The main melody in the score was played by John Leach on a cimbalom, a type of Hungarian dulcimer, that provided the forlorn mood that composer John Barry was eager to create.
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In the novels, the name of the lead character was never revealed. So Sir Michael Caine and Producer Harry Saltzman tried to think of a boring name for the hero. Caine suggested "Harry", which Saltzman found rather amusing. Caine then remembered a boring classmate named Tommy Palmer. So "Palmer" became the surname.
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On the first day of shooting, director Sidney J. Furie gathered the cast and said, "This is what I think of the script." He then set it on fire.
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Three pairs of glasses were used by Sir Michael Caine during filming. When all of these were broken during filming, production was held up for a day, until replacements had been found. After that, the Prop Department was stocked with twenty extra pairs of the Harry Palmer model glasses.
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This movie proved to be a major influence on the style and ambiance of the popular television series, Mission: Impossible (1966). Television producer and director Bernard L. Kowalski had seen this movie and was so impressed, he requested that a similar mood and urgency be emulated for the show.
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Harry's glasses frames were dark brown, contrary to the widely held view that they were black. They were a style called "Teviot 74" manufactured by a company called "U.K. Optical". They were already popular at the time for being a stylish and inexpensive alternative to the standard models that were issued for "free" by the National Health Service in Britain. They became even more popular after the success of this movie. Len Deighton wore the same frames at this time. Those frames have been described by some as the first affordable "designer" frames available in the U.K.
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Harry's coffee pot is an Insta-Brewer. Executive Producer Charles D. Kasher owned the patent on the product, and Sir Michael Caine appeared in a print ad for it.
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"I.P.C.R.E.S.S." stands for Induction of Psychoneuroses by Conditioned Reflex under strESS.
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Harry was offered an annual salary of one thousand four hundred pounds sterling for his new job. This was less than twice the average wage in 1965, so not a fantastic sum for the danger involved.
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Christopher Plummer was originally considered for the lead role, but dropped out to star in The Sound of Music (1965). The role was then offered to Richard Harris, who also refused it. Harris later regretted his decision, commenting to Sir Sean Connery that he "turned down The Ipcress File, but did Caprice (1967) with Doris Day."
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Producer Harry Saltzman hated director Sidney J. Furie and his oddball style, and went so far as to bar him from the editing room. According to Furie, Saltzman also excluded him from the movie's party at Cannes, and even stole his best picture British Academy Award.
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Two large Victorian terrace houses, at 28 and 30 Grosvenor Gardens, London, were used as studios. The two houses were converted into one huge house containing forty rooms. These were enlarged or divided according to requirements. Fourteen rooms were used as studios. Other rooms were turned into dressing rooms, Wardrobe Department, Hairdressing, Make-up, Production Offices, a Prop Department, and a self-contained restaurant, capable of feeding and seating one hundred twenty people. This was all kept secret to keep away sight-seers and autograph hunters. Even Sir Michael Caine was driven to work in an inconspicuous car, and had to sneak in the back way. As a front, a large sign was painted at the entrance to the studios. The sign read "The Dalby Employment Agency".
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In the years following this movie's release, producer Harry Saltzman claimed that he had fired director Sidney J. Furie relatively early in shooting, and that Peter R. Hunt had really directed most of this movie, with Furie only being credited as director for contractual reasons. Hunt denied this, however, and revealed that he had, in fact, tried to preserve Furie's original vision to the best of his abilities, despite Saltzman's attempts to do otherwise.
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This movie made a big star of Sir Michael Caine and sealed his "leading" man status.
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Although the narrator in the novel is nameless, at one point in the novel, he is greeted by someone saying, "Hello, Harry". The narrator then thinks, "Now my name isn't Harry, but in this business, it's hard to remember whether it ever had been."
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Sir Michael Caine spoke in an interview about this movie how producer Harry Saltzman treated various people on the set. On more than one occasion, he took the producer to one side and said how his harsh behavior wasn't necessary.
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Major Dalby (Nigel Green) wears a blue tie with thin yellow on red stripes. This is the regimental tie of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, his former regiment. Colonel H.L. Ross (Guy Doleman) wears a blue and red striped tie, indicating service in a regiment of the Brigade of Guards (Grenadier Guards, Scots Guards).
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Form L101 field report which Major Dalby is so insistent on having is actually an HSE form for working in confined spaces.
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The supermarket in which Harry is seen shopping is Safeway, which has since been bought by the Morrisons supermarket chain.
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At the start of the movie, the station announcer at Marylebone says that the train is leaving for Nottingham and Leicester, which means that it would have had to travel along the former "Great Central" route towards Sheffield. This line, one of the most modern main lines in the country, was closed the following year (1966), and most of the trackbed has since been built over or erased completely from the map.
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Of the graffiti on the wall of the cell, the only one that can be translated is "Got mit uns", a misspelling of "Gott mit uns", which is German for "God is with us".
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Much of the film is filmed over shoulders, through partially opened doors, through shelving, through windows, and through screens. This gives the viewer the feeling of being involved in clandestine surveillance. Additionally, the camera is positioned from below the subjects, giving the impression the viewer is crouching down.
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This movie was a deliberate attempt to present a spy thriller that would be as far removed from the fantasy world of James Bond as possible. The emphasis was more on realism and far less glamour.
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Robert Shaw had written an earlier draft of the screenplay, which was rejected.
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By the time the film was released in 1965, the War Office referred to by Major Dalby had changed its name to the Ministry of Defence.
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Barbara Roscoe had a role in this movie and appeared in promotional stills, but her scenes were deleted from the final print.
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In his autobiography "Blowing the Bloody Doors Off" Michael Caine said that the film initially had trouble finding an American distributor. One studio executive supposedly said that because Harry Palmer wore glasses, and was seen cooking, American audiences would think he was a homosexual.
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Dame Joan Collins had been considered for the role of Jean Courtney.
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The plot of the film differs considerably from that of the novel. Also, major portions of the novel are set in Lebanon and the South Pacific, but there are no corresponding locations in the film - presumably for cost reasons.
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When scratching the wall to keep a tally of how long he has been incarcerated, Palmer does six vertical and and one horizontal lines, indicating the passage of a week. The more common pattern is four vertical and one horizontal lines, to make it easier to count by fives.
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This film has a 100% rating based on 30 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
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With this movie becoming a big success upon release, four sequels were subsequently made.
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This film and the similarly titled The Odessa File (1974) not only has that similarity and both being espionage thrillers in common, but that the "file" in question is an acronym, Ipcress standing for "Induction of Psychoneuroses by Conditioned Reflex under Stress" and Odessa standing for "Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen".
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With Harry Palmer, the public was introduced to a character who was more of an anti-hero than James Bond.
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Palmer's assigned car is a 1962 Ford Zodiac Mk III. This was a more luxurious version of the Ford Zephyr 6 and cost around £1,070 including taxes in the UK.
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British electronic duo Source Direct sampled Frank Gatliff's (Bluejay's) voice from the "brainwashing" scene for their track "Silent Witness".
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The basic story from the novel was used for this movie. However, major portions of the novel weren't used in the final version. Reasons like lack of time and the movie being too long are usually the ones given.
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Richard Harris was seriously considered for the lead role before Sir Michael Caine was eventually cast.
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In this movie, the inter-city railway train from St. Pancras/Marylebone Station was hauled by a steam locomotive.
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This film's main theme was sampled by Hip Hop group Gang Starr for their track "Peace of Mine".
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Final film of Pauline Winter.
Final film of Barbara Roscoe.
The magazine that Radcliffe is reading in the opening scene is New Scientist, issue #412, 8th October 1964.
Alt/New Wave band the Godfathers sang in their 1988 song - Birth, School, Work, Death And I've felt torture, I've felt pain Just like that film with Michael Caine
Producer Harry Saltzman banned director Sidney J Furie from the editing room and Furie complained that Harry stole his Best Picture BAFTA.
Harry Palmer was the first screen action hero to wear glasses, In the novel the character is never named.Michael suggested Harry and the producers came up with Palmer.
When Palmer goes to Major Dalby's office he his told to exchange the Mauser Pocket Pistol he had put into his waistband at home for a Colt Pocket Positive - called a "Colt .32" in this film.
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In almost every scene in which Major Dalby appears, the color red is somewhere close by, indicating that he is the traitor. Examples of this clue include the red heater in Dalby's office, the military band dressed in red playing "The Thin Red Line", which Dalby enjoys, the military band marching on the street as Dalby goes to meet Ross in the park, the red sign reflected in the car window Dalby sits next to, the red interior of Dalby's sports car, the fire fighting equipment he stands next to in the final scene, and the red bucket that is near him when he finally reveals himself to be the traitor.
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Twice Major Dalby (Nigel Green) is seen to have an anomalous shadow: once on the projector screen after the projector has been turned off and, again, in the warehouse, when he is asked to stand under the light, yet he casts a strong shadow against the wall. Assuming these are not goofs, they are surely meant as metaphors for his shadowy nature.
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All of the signs in the "prison" appear to be in Albanian, which would be consistent with it supposedly being in Albania.
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Body count: 5
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