When I tuned in, I had misgivings. On the one hand I love the two earlier Harry Palmer movies...on the other hand I couldn't imagine that if this were in their league how I could've missed it this long.
First, Ken Russell. I don't care for his artsy-fartsy stuff, but that didn't prepare me for the technical ineptitude he displays here. The cataclysmic finale is set up horribly and put together in a way that leaches whatever punch an ice battle might've had. There are plenty of other scenes in which his direction and editing work directly against the narrative flow. Two of the general's minions shot at a train station: clumsier than what you would've seen in a TV western from the same period. To me it was outright embarrassing.
Speaking of embarrassing, the casting of Ed Begley and Karl Malden was appalling, compounded by the over-the-top direction given them. Now I am aware Begley's character is supposed to be a kook, but that would've come out even with a nuanced performance had the director had any faith in the narrative.
Last but certainly not least, Richard Rodney Bennet's score is positively jarring and one of the least sympathetic to the action it accompanies of any movie I can remember. (If you can top it, please e-mail your selection.) Oh, an afterthought: let me add that the ONLY redeeming quality of this movie is the opportunity it provides to bask one's eyes on the lovely Françoise Dorleac. It was her last role. She died in '67 in a car crash...and she happened to be Catherine Deneuve's sister. How gorgeous she was!
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