The Tamarind Seed (1974): the spy who loved Julie Andrews

19 JUNE 2023

JBC rating: ***

James Bond Connections (5):

  • Soundtrack composed by John Barry (Bond composer, various, 1962 – 1987).
  • Song lyrics by Don Black (Bond lyricist, various 1964 – 1989).
  • Director of Photography Freddie Young (Cinematographer, You Only Live Twice)
  • Title sequence designed by Maurice Binder (Bond titles, various, 1962 – 1989)
  • Featuring actor Bryan Marshall (Commander Talbot in The Spy Who Loved Me) as security officer George MacLeod

The 1974 UK produced spy drama The Tamarind Seed features English star Julie Andrews as British Home Office official Judith Farrow, who unwittingly becomes involved in international intrigue after a holiday romance with Omar Sharif’s Soviet attache Major Feodor Sverdlov. In writer-director Blake Edwards’ intelligent adaptation of Evelyn Anthony’s 1971 novel, Sverdlov hopes Judith will help facilitate his defection to the West and in return he will expose the identity of ‘Blue’, a Soviet mole working at the highest levels of the British state. The east meets west plotline anticipates themes in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and both films provide a snapshot of contemporary thinking regarding the Soviet Union in the age of détente. The film can also be seen as a companion piece to Alfred Hitchcock’s underrated Torn Curtain (1966), another spy thriller featuring Julie Andrews unwittingly involved in a defection plot. However, in contrast to these two films, the quietly satisfying spy drama The Tamarind Seed largely eschews large-scale action or suspense sequences in favour of characterisation and acting fireworks.

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Kaleidoscope (1966): stealing the plot of Casino Royale

13 JUNE 2023

JBC rating: ****

James Bond Connections (2):

  • Maurice Binder (Title designer, various 1962 – 1989) produced the title sequence.
  • Featuring Anthony Dawson (Professor Dent in Dr No) as a London casino manager.

The highly enjoyable 1966 comedy thriller Kaleidoscope begins as a romantic caper from the mould of Charade (1963), with added swinging 60s style and fashions. The James Bond connection isn’t immediately obvious, as the film follows an American playboy enacting an ingenious scheme to fraudulently win a fortune from casinos across Europe. Maurice Binder’s fun title sequence, featuring iconic London sights shot through a kaleidoscopic filter (below), is unlike any of his work for EON. Actor Anthony Dawson, so memorable as the slimy Professor Dent in Dr No, barely registers in his tiny (and uncredited) role as a casino boss. However, the second half of the film, focusing on an attempt to bankrupt an international villain during a high-stakes poker game, is clearly lifted from Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale (1953) and features a similar aftermath. Ironically, this section of Robert and Jane-Howard Carrington’s lively script is far closer to Fleming than the first “adaptation” released the following year!

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Fathom (1967): Raquel Welch has fun as a female spy

10 JUNE 2023

JBC rating: ***

James Bond Connections (2):

  • Titles by Maurice Binder (Bond title sequence designer, various 1962 – 1989).
  • Screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr (Writer, Never Say Never Again, 1983).

Two years after her near miss at playing Bond girl Domino in Thunderball (1965), American actress Raquel Welch (above) starred as the eponymous hero in Fathom which is essentially a James Bond-style action-adventure movie. Based on Larry Forrester’s unpublished sequel to his spy novel A Girl called Fathom, it seems likely 20th Century Fox hoped to create a female-led alternative Bond series. Another Bond imitator, Modesty Blaise (1966), is also an influence. Both films share scores by The Avengers composer John Dankworth, with each featuring an angelic choir melody for the female hero. However, while Modesty Blaise retains greater cultural significance, Fathom is the more accessible and entertaining film.

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Crossplot (1969): Roger Moore advertising for Bond

6 JUNE 2023

JBC rating: ***

James Bond Connections (2):

  • Starring Roger Moore (James Bond, 1973 – 1985) as hero Gary Fenn. 
  • Featuring Bernard Lee (M, 1962 – 1979) as villain Chilmore.

Crossplot is a lightweight, but fun, “wrong man” thriller starring a pre-Bond Roger Moore. Produced immediately after Moore’s long stint as crime fighter Simon Templar in the classic British TV series The Saint, the film was clearly an attempt to launch his career as a movie star whilst keeping his Bond ambitions afloat following a near miss with the role in 1968 (in an aborted version of The Man with the Golden Gun). Indeed, Gary Fenn, a London-based advertising executive who finds himself unwittingly involved in a spy plot, shares Bond’s love of luxury and beautiful women. The film also includes a pre-credits sequence followed by psychedelic titles overlayed with a (rather warbly) theme song. However, unlike 007, Fenn has no obvious military background and story-wise Crossplot is a throwback to pre-Bond spy thrillers where spies are the villains. Whilst its (by then) old-fashioned plot may have limited its box office appeal in 1969, the film offers Bond fans the chance to see Roger Moore effectively adjust his professional adventurer star persona to play a civilian with no track record of outwitting villains.

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Danger Route (1967): nearly-Bond Richard Johnson as a blunt instrument of the state

4 JUNE 2023

JBC rating: ***

James Bond Connections (2):

  • Featuring actor David Bauer (Morton Slumber in Diamonds Are Forever) as US official Bennett.
  • Theme song composed by Lionel Bart (composer of the song From Russia with Love).

The British B-movie Danger Route is by far the grittiest of three late 1960s spy films starring Shakespearean actor Richard Johnson, the darkly handsome English leading man who famously turned down the chance to star as the first James Bond in Dr No (1962). Johnson’s brutal turn as a jaded, cold-blooded government assassin adds an edge of danger largely absent from his portrayals of Bulldog Drummond in the campy and fantastical Deadlier than the Male (1967) and Some Girls Do (1969). Indeed, Danger Route suggests his portrayal of 007 could have been both exciting and faithful to Ian Fleming’s conception of his hero as a “blunt instrument of the state” and the film is well worth watching for any James Bond fan.

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The Double Man (1967): Goodnight skiing

30 MAY 2023

JBC rating: ***

James Bond Connections (4):

  • Featuring Britt Ekland (Bond girl Mary Goodnight in The Man with the Golden Gun) as the heroine Gina Ericson.
  • Featuring small roles for David Bauer (uncredited as an American diplomat in You Only Live Twice and as Morton Slumber in Diamonds Are Forever) and David Healy (uncredited as the Vandenburg Launch Director in Diamonds Are Forever).
  • Second unit director William P. Cartledge (2nd unit on You Only Live Twice, Producer on The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker).

With its Alpine setting, spectacular ski sequences and a storyline involving a spy with a personal agenda, The Double Man anticipates the Bond classic On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by two whole years (ironically, it was released between the spoof Casino Royale [1967] and the tonally opposite Bond extravaganza You Only Live Twice). This British-produced straight thriller follows tough guy CIA agent Dan Slater (played by Hollywood star Yul Brynner, pictured above) as he visits Austria to investigate the suspicious death of his teenage son. This is all part of an incredible Soviet plot – his son was murdered by Russian spies in order to lure Slater out of the USA and replace him with a Communist-trained double – alluded to in the film’s title. However, future Oscar winning American director Franklin J. Schaffer manages to ground a fantastical story by adopting a low-key, realistic directorial style and maintaining naturalistic performances from the cast. The result is an effective and quietly gripping Cold War-era spy thriller.

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The Liquidator (1965): Case before Bond

28 MAY 2023

JBC rating: ***

James Bond Connections (2):

  • Starring Jill St John (Bond girl Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever) as British Intelligence secretary Iris MacIntosh.
  • Legendary singer Shirley Bassey (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker) performs the theme song.

Produced at the height of the 007-inspired 1960s spy movie boom (“Bondmania”), The Liquidator is a solid attempt by 20th Century Fox at creating a rival to James Bond. As with several Bond imitations released in the 1960s, The Liquidator plays as a light spoof of the (then) new series. Australian-born leading man Rod Taylor stars as down-on-his-luck Boysie Oakes (above, left), hired by Trevor Howard’s jaded spy chief Colonel Mostyn (above, right) to assassinate numerous double agents who have infiltrated British Intelligence. Following an incident at the end of the Second World War (detailed in the black and white pre-credits sequence), Mostyn has mistaken Oakes as a Bond-style sharp shooting hero. In fact, Oakes is a selfish coward who, as well as being useless at his new job, is soon tricked by the villains into enabling their scheme.

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The Fourth Protocol (1987): Pierce Brosnan plays 007, Soviet-style

25 MAY 2023

JBC rating: ****

James Bond Connections (4):

  • Starring Pierce Brosnan (James Bond, 1995 – 2002) as Soviet spy Major Valery Petroski.
  • Featuring Julian Glover (Aris Kristatos in For Your Eyes Only) as British intelligence official Brian Harcourt-Smith.
  • Director of Photography Phil Meyheux (DOP, GoldenEye and Casino Royale [2006]).
  • Production designer Allan Cameron (Production Designer, Tomorrow Never Dies).

In the late 1980s Irish-born leading man Pierce Brosnan famously became a near-Bond when contract issues with his Remington Steele producers led to him being unable to succeed Roger Moore as 007 in The Living Daylights (1987). However, in the same year Brosnan starred in another spy thriller, The Fourth Protocol, an adaptation by blockbuster author Frederick Forsyth of his own best-selling 1984 novel. Brosnan stars as a Soviet villain plotting to weaken NATO by detonating a nuclear device near an American airbase in England. Ironically, The Fourth Protocol helped Brosnan keep his EON ambitions afloat as, even while playing the villain, the young and impossibly handsome actor clearly remains a potential future James Bond.

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Permission to Kill (1975): the Timothy Dalton spy movie you need to see

23 MAY 2023

JBC rating: ****

James Bond Connections (2):

  • Featuring Timothy Dalton (James Bond, 1987 – 1989) as Foreign Office official Charles Lord.
  • Director of Photography Freddie Young (DOP, You Only Live Twice).

A decade before his casting as 007, rising Welsh leading man Timothy Dalton appeared in Permission to Kill, an ensemble spy drama with some similarities to Munich (2006), another espionage thriller featuring a future Bond (Daniel Craig). Opposite in tone to the comedic and increasingly fantastical Bond films of the 1970s, this dark and gritty spy movie contains themes reflecting a morally uncertain world dominated by increasing cynicism about Western governments following Vietnam and the leaked Pentagon Papers. The presence of Dalton, playing a British Foreign Office official with the same depth, coolness and world-weary nature he would later bring to 007, anticipates the more grounded films of the 1980s. The film also points toward the moral complexities of the Daniel Craig era.

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Gold (1974): Roger Moore mining Bond

21 MAY 2023

JBC rating: ****

James Bond Connections (8):


  • Starring Roger Moore (James Bond, 1973 – 1985) as Rod Slater.
  • Featuring Bernard Horsfall (Campbell in OHMSS) as Dave Kowalski.
  • Featuring (briefly) Andre Maranne (uncredited as SPECTRE No. 10 in Thunderball) as a syndicate member.


  • Directed by Peter Hunt (Bond editor 1962 – 1967, Director OHMSS).
  • Production designed by Syd Cain (From Russia with Love, OHMSS & Live and Let Die).
  • Edited & 2nd unit directed by John Glen (Bond editor / 2nd unit, various 1969 – 1979; Bond Director 1981 – 1989).
  • Titles designed by Maurice Binder (Bond titles, various 1962 – 1989).
  • Camera operated by Alec Mills (Camera crew, 1969, 1981 – 1989).

The classic South Africa-set action thriller Gold was Roger Moore’s first film following his highly successful debut as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973). It set the template for Moore’s non-EON career in the 1970s and 80s when, more than any other James Bond actor, he seemed happy to capitalise on his star persona by portraying a succession of smooth and sophisticated heroes straight from the 007 mould. Many EON regulars would join Moore for his non-Bond ventures. Indeed, one reason for the fact Gold is arguably the best of them is the fact the credits include more EON crew members than any Roger Moore movie outside of James Bond.

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