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
In his memoirs, Joss Ackland writes he was working on three other films, as well as playing Wray in this film. See more »
At the start of the film where the van is blown up on the motorway, it becomes clear that the scene is filmed on an incomplete stretch of motorway (possibly the M3, which was completed in 1974) as lane markings are missing from one carriageway. See more »
The opening credits are formed from images of children's alphabet blocks. See more »
Don Siegel will always be remembered as the man who gave us Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers and Dirty Harry, as well as being the mentor of Clint Eastwood when he was just starting out in the acting business. Here he tackles very atypical material with a low-key British spy thriller based on the book Seven Days To A Killing by Clive Eggleton. Although this is not really Siegel's kind of thing, he manages to coax sound performances from an impressive cast, and gets across a certain degree of excitement. From time to time the suspense slackens a little, but on the whole this is an engaging enough potboiler.
Major John Tarrant (Michael Caine) is a secret agent who is distraught to learn that his son has been kidnapped by a gang who want a batch of diamonds for his safe return. Tarrant's boss Cedric Harper (Donald Pleasance) has never got on well with Tarrant, and even goes so far as to suggest that maybe the kidnapping is an elaborate double-cross hatched by Tarrant himself in order to get hold of the diamonds. Supported by his wife Alex (Janet Suzman), Tarrant steals the diamonds needed for his son's safety, and attempts to elude his own colleagues plus the police long enough to secure the return of the young boy.
Critical opinion at the time seemed to be of the view that The Black Windmill was a bad film. Generous critics were kind enough to call it average. Perhaps everyone still had Siegel's extraordinarily good Dirty Harry fresh in their memories and were unable to accept that he couldn't always make films of that standard. The Black Windmill, while stilted and a touch dry in parts, is certainly not a full-scale dud. It has interesting plot twists, good acting (always good to see John Vernon in any of his '70s villainous roles), intriguing character clashes, and a nice sense of genre. I'd rather have a low-key thriller like this than one of the modern spectacular-but-empty popcorn actioners. Try not to be influenced by the negative buzz.... give The Black Windmill a try. It's no classic, but it's better than you might expect.
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