6.1/10
4,198
74 user 38 critic

Billion Dollar Brain (1967)

Not Rated | | Crime, Thriller | 14 January 1968 (UK)
A former British spy stumbles onto a plot to overthrow Communism with the help of a supercomputer. But who is working for whom?

Director:

Ken Russell

Writers:

Len Deighton (novel), John McGrath (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... Harry Palmer
Karl Malden ... Leo Newbigen
Ed Begley ... Gen. Midwinter
Oskar Homolka ... Col. Stok (as Oscar Homolka)
Françoise Dorléac ... Anya (as Francoise Dorleac)
Guy Doleman ... Col. Ross
Vladek Sheybal ... Dr. Eiwort
Milo Sperber Milo Sperber ... Basil
Janos Kurutz Janos Kurutz ... Latvian Gangster
Alexei Jawdokimov Alexei Jawdokimov ... Latvian Gangster
Paul Tamarin Paul Tamarin ... Latvian Gangster
Izabella Telezynska Izabella Telezynska ... Latvian Gangster (as Iza Teller)
Mark Elwes Mark Elwes ... Birkenshaw
Stanley Caine ... G.P.O. Special Delivery Boy
Gregg Palmer Gregg Palmer ... First Dutch Businessman
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Storyline

Harry Palmer has left the British Secret Service and become a private detective. One of his first assignments is to deliver an apparently innocent Thermos flask to an old friend in Helsinki, Palmer is suspicious of the flask contents and begins to doubt the motives of his friend and those of his boss, a Texan billionaire. Written by Dave Jenkins <david.jenkins@smallworld.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Pow . . . Power . . . Brainpower

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Russian | Finnish

Release Date:

14 January 1968 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Con el mundo a sus pies See more »

Filming Locations:

Senaatintori, Helsinki, Finland See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (as De Luxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie did poor business at the box-office. See more »

Goofs

At the end soldiers fall in to the sea and quickly sink. However bodies dead or other wise, even carrying heavy rifles, will float in the especially cold, salty dense sea. See more »

Quotes

General Midwinter: No, you don't understand the kind of love I have for this great country of ours. Love's not built that way, my way, any more. These days love is marriage, and the compensation is alimony; love these days is bravery under fire, and the compensation is medals; love is a donation of party funds, and the compensation is a political plum; love is some lady you left back in St. Louis, or a fast haul in the back seat of an automobile. My love is nothing like that. My love is this great company of ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, crew names are written in all uppercase letters, with the exception of Production Manager Eva Monley whose name is written "eva monley". See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK cinema release was cut to get an "A" rating to shorten the struggle between Harry and Anya. The 1985 Warner video featured the same print though the BBFC cuts were restored in the re-edited 2004 DVD. See more »


Soundtracks

A Hard Day's Night
(uncredited)
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Performed by The Beatles
Capitol Records
See more »

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User Reviews

"Now is the winter of our discontent..."
3 June 2004 | by LewisJForceSee all my reviews

For roughly the first twenty five minutes of it's running time, "Billion Dollar Brain" looks like it's shaping up to be something very good indeed. And then, slowly but surely, the whole thing unravels. By the time a further hour or so has elapsed, neither you nor Harry Palmer know nor particularly care what the hell is going on. The blame for this lies firmly at the door of director Ken Russell.

When we first reacquaint ourselves with Caine's coolly amused hero, he is operating as a private eye from a seedy, rundown office in Central London. And living almost exclusively on corn flakes. His superior, Colonel Ross (played once more by the wonderful Guy Doleman), wants him back in the service. Harry's not interested, but a little persuasion and blackmail ensures that he's soon off to Finland to deliver a thermosflask to a mysterious professor. Here he encounters the spectacularly sexy Francoise Dorleac and her highly unlikely lover, a lucky old sod played by Karl Malden.

People turn up dead, and triple-cross follows double-cross. But after a while it becomes pretty obvious that all of the complex subterfuge is merely an attempt to mask a rather run-of-the-mill 'madman takes over the world' plot.

Such is the stuff of every Bond picture, and it's a big disappointment after the relatively believable milieus of the first two Palmer flicks. The major problem, though, is that the director's hand is so uncertain, and his pacing so uneven, that we are never sure exactly what kind of film we are watching. Russell mixes the starkly beautiful mise en scene and ready cynicism of a 'realistic' cold war drama with the pop-art excesses of a Broccoli fantasy, but the cake doesn't rise. Heavy-handed attempts at political satire just make the warmed-over fare even more inedible.

There are compensations: Russell knows how to frame a shot, and Billy Williams' cinematography is often extremely beautiful (especially when shooting the ill-fated Dorleac). All of the main performers are charismatic and Richard Rodney Bennett turns in an atmospheric score. The spookily evocative theremin-like sound is created using an ancient French keyboard instrument, the ondes martinot.

In the draggy latter-half, a couple of sequences manage to pique the interest, especially the superbly staged 'Alexander Nevsky' parody, framed by the surreal contrasts of blinding white ice and pitch black sky. There is also an eerie, darkly comic sequence in which Harry awakes in a bathtub full of dead bodies, unsure of what exactly is happening. Unfortunately, all of the surrounding guff only serves to dull their impact.

Amuse yourself in the tedious stretches by looking out for blink-and-you'll-miss-em spots by Susan George and Donald Sutherland. Caine's brother Stanley also appears as the postman in the opening scene.


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