The KGB is looking for one of their people, a man named Dalchimsky because he has stolen something important but, unfortunately, he manages to get through the border. Later in the U.S. some seemingly ordinary people after receiving a phone call go out and destroy key American military installations. Back in the U.S.S.R. General Strelsky and Colonel Malchenko send for Grigori Borzov, a KGB agent who has been to the U.S. on missions before. They inform him that after the U-2 incident in fear of the possibility that a war with the U.S. will occur; they were part of an operation called TELEFON that involved recruiting young agents and then brainwashing them into believing that they are Americans. They would assume the identity of an American who died a long time ago and who would be their age now. They would be situated in a city that is near or where a key U.S. military installation is located. They were also programmed to destroy upon receiving the command phrase. They have been ...Written by
This time around, Bronson is a Russian major sent to the USA to eliminate a renegade Stalinist who is activating human time bombs. It's a kind of Manchurian Candidate times twelve. Bronson's double-agent assistant is Lee Remick.
The plot, though not hard to follow, is a bit intricate and involves the solution of several puzzles and a good deal of travel around the country, from Denver to Akron to Los Angeles to Cambridge (NM), to some dumpy bar in rural Texas with a rattlesnake in a cage. The series is designed to spell out the name of the villain, Dalchimsky, across a map of the USA. It's not worth going into enough detail to explain exactly what that means. But I must add that I thought it was pretty rotten of the director to actually blow that rattlesnake's head off for real, Crotalus atrox, a beautiful specimen. Where is PETA when you need them? And what do they have against snakes? Oh, sure, nobody would argue that rattlesnakes are as cuddly as French poodles or sea otters -- but, still.
Bronson is his usual self with his built-in swagger and mustache. He's a Russian major and his hair looks styled by Mister Kenneth or something. And he's completely incapable of projecting anxiety, let alone fear. Lee Remick was no longer a teenage baton twirler but she has the strangest, most appealing pair of pale blue eyes, surrounded by black circles, like Meg Ryan's. And she too has a curious rolling gait, like a sailor's. Neither Bronson nor Remich was ever a major star by Hollywood standards but they're both engaging and it's sad to think that they are now both history. I could never get with Donald Pleasance as an actor. He's probably a fine man and loves his dog, but his shining dome and pop eyes become banal in a hurry. Sheree North in her small part gives a good impression of being an exuberantly sexy no-nonsense woman.
The plot has its implausibilities. We kind of expect Bronson and Remick to wind up together somehow, and they do, but it comes out of nowhere. Bronson has heretofore done no more than smile at Remick, and that only once, when suddenly they get in the car and take off for a motel ten miles away.
A couple of fireballs for the young at mind, but no car chases, no slow motion deaths (except for that disenfranchised rattler), and only one shooting.
This is one of about two Bronson vehicles I look forward to seeing again. I'm not sure why. Schifrin's music is no more than adequate. The photography is interesting, all of its colors drawn from the red end of the spectrum, all beige, gray, orange, and scarlet. Anyone in blue looks like a tramp at a Kandinsky exhibit. Maybe I like the irony of a Russian major trying to save the USA from being blown up.
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