12 June 2004 | barnabyrudge
Poor anti-drug thriller from the James Bond people.
Another surprisingly bad film from director Terence Young (did this guy really make such greats as Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Wait Until Dark?) What's more surprising about Poppies Are Also Flowers is the calibre of the cast. Trevor Howard, E.G Marshall, Omar Sharif, Angie Dickinson, Yul Brynner, Jack Hawkins, Senta Berger, Rita Hayworth, Anthony Quayle, Eli Wallach, Trini Lopez, Marcello Mastroainni, Stephen Boyd and Hugh Griffith all make appearances in the movie - and virtually every one of them is guilty of rampant bad acting. I challenge anyone to find this talented a cast in a more badly acted film. The story is pretty poor too.
Narcotics agents Lincoln (Trevor Howard) and Coley (E.G Marshall) arrive in Iran to investigate the death of another agent, Benson (Stephen Boyd). They learn that Benson had struck a deal with a tribal chief (Hugh Griffith) to buy his opium crop, but a disgruntled rival buyer attempted to seize the crop in transit, killing Benson in the process. In order to track down the killers, Lincoln and Coley agree to let another opium crop leave Iran bound for an unknown European drug lord. However, they put a radioactive element into the opium, meaning that they can track its progress with geiger counters, all the way to the head man. The trail leads from Iran to Switzerland to Italy and, finally, to France.
The film is based on an idea by Ian Fleming (yes, the Bond creator). However, there is little of the flair in this film that you would find in the Bond books and films. The very concept of contaminating opium in order to track its whereabouts seems rather unconvincing and implausible, but the film doesn't suffer too much because of it. The problem here is more fundamental - it's a badly scripted film. A plethora of characters come and go without proper introduction or development, and various events and actions are patched together without sufficient explanation. Such under-cooked ingredients do not make for a satisfying viewing experience. Other than Georges Auric's stirring music and E.G Marshall's performance (the only good one in the whole film) as the hero, Poppies Are Also Flowers is a failure.