25 July 2016 | tomsview
Of all the spy spoofs that were set off by the James Bond films in the 60's, this was just about the best. Over 40 years later it's still witty with beautifully observed characters, great locations, and a suspenseful story. To top it off, it has a catchy title song that captures the spirit of the hero perfectly.
Gerald Arthur Otley is a likely lad. He's an opportunistic, occasional antiques dealer - he has sold his landlady's furniture - who gets by on his wits and his way with the ladies. However things get out of control when he becomes involved in an espionage plot.
He is kidnapped twice and meets some interesting but dangerous people including a female agent, Imogen, played by beautiful and enigmatic Romy Schneider. "Imogen", he exclaims when she first tells him her name, "It sounds like something you put on cut knees". He also meets Johnson, a hit man played by Leonard Rossiter whose light-heartedness about his work belies a merciless nature.
Director Dick Clement gave the film a light touch, and Tom Courtney reveals a flair for comedy where a look says a lot. The film is almost a cross between "Alfie" and "Arabesque", but works far better than just about all the spy spoofs that hit like a tsunami in the 1960s.
The film has a serious side and there is an element of danger for Otley; likable as he is, his survival is not a forgone conclusion. Although he is a bit of a loser, his luck holds up despite his relationships with women seeming always to be of short duration. His parting with Imogen at the end after their brief affair sums it up; when he asks if he can see her again, she answers, "Don't be silly", and drives away.
The film is also something of a time capsule. Like "Goodbye Gemini" made around the same time, the background of the film captures not only the look of the times - the hairstyles, the clothes and the cars - but also the mood, including Otley's casual day-to-day approach to life.
Along with great shots of late 60's Portobello Road and other London locations, the film has a score by the eclectic Stanley Myers. The song "Homeless bones" co-written and sung by busker Don Partridge, adds the right touch to a film that works beautifully on many levels.