Teheran 43

Teheran 43 (1981)

Also Known as: Assassination Attempt and The Eliminator

Don’t know too much about this one. I found this poster while scouring the net, and I liked the Dali-esque touches [click on image for larger view]. It was a Russian film, but it received a substantial international release (apparently it was released on video in Australia as The Eliminator). The stars were Curt Jurgens, Alain Delon and Evelyne Kraft (who I always remember as the scantily clad jungle girl in Mighty Peking Man (AKA: Goliathon).

The plot concerns a plan by the Nazis to assassinate Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill.

Teheran 43

The Karate Killers (1967)

AKA: The Five Daughters Affair
United States
Director: Barry Shear

Starring: Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, Herbert Lom, Curt Jurgens, Telly Savalas, Jill Ireland, Terry-Thomas, Kim Darby, Diane McBain, Leo G. Carroll, Danielle De Metz

Music: Gerald Fried
The Man From UNCLE theme by Jerry Goldsmith

There are many reasons why this film could be regarded as the worst of The Man From UNCLE films – because of the way the story is structured, it is repetitive and episodic, rather than a fluid and cohesive piece of cinema. Having said that, and throwing away all the rulebooks, this movie has to be my favourite in the series. It’s an absolute hoot.

The film opens with – not one, but three autogyros flying over head – autogyros? Think ‘Little Nellie’ from You Only Live Twice. Down below on a winding mountain road in a sporty blue car are Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). From above the autogyros start peppering our intrepid UNCLE agents with rockets. Due to there choice of car, it appears that the UNCLE boys can’t just roll down the windows and shoot back, they have to open the doors, and these are top opening doors, so Napoleon’s view of his overhead attackers is impeded. So how do they get out of this tricky situation? Illya drives the car into a tunnel. That’s it! I guess they waited the for the autogyros to run low on petrol and go home.

Now as you have no doubt guessed, the guys in the autogyros were THRUSH agents and they were trying to stop Illya and Napoleon from visiting Dr. Simon True who is a scientist who has been working on a vital desalinisation project. During the experiment, as Napoleon and Illya watch, Professor True has a heart attack. Just before he dies, he whispers that his ‘formula’ for the experiment has been passed to the ‘four winds’.

Meanwhile, Professor True’s widow, Amanda (Joan Crawford) is being consoled by her lover, Randolph (Herbert Lom). But Randolph’s care and affection only stretches so far when he can’t find a copy of the Professor’s formula – as that is all he was after. He only had an affair with Amanda so he could get the formula. He questions her and she refuses to co-operate. This is where Randolph starts getting rough – he calls in a band of THRUSH agents in red skivvies with black leather vests and gloves. These guys are the ‘Karate Killers’ from the title and they tear the place a part, and kill Amanda.

The men from UNCLE turn up too late with the Professor’s youngest daughter, Sandra True (Kim Darby). She surmises that the ‘four winds’ that the formula has been scattered to, are in fact Professor True’s four errant step daughters. The first of these daughters, Margo (Diane McBain) is now living in Italy – married to Count Valeriano De Fanzini (Telly Savalas). The Count is an unstable and jealous man and keeps Margo locked up, naked, in an attic. When Napoleon and Illya turn up with Sandra in tow, they don’t quite receive the welcome they expected. The situation gets worse when Randolph turns up the his squad of Karate Killers.

After a slap stick fight sequence, Margo gives the men from UNCLE a photo that her step father had sent to her. In the background of the photo, on a chalk board is part of a formula. On it’s own it doesn’t mean too much, but all of the step daughters have a piece of the formula, and once they have all the pieces they can work out Professor True’s plan for desalinisation.

The next daughter, Imogene (Jill Ireland) is in London, and all parties head across to the UK for the next part of the story. When we first meet Imogene, she has just been arrested – by Terry-Thomas – for indecent exposure. Of course Randolph turns up.

After that we head to the Swiss Alps and the Daughter is Yvonne (Danielle De Metz). She is entangled in a relationship with wealthy gigolo, Carl Von Kesser (Curt Jurgens). And once again Randolph turns up. As I mentioned at the opening, the story is rather repetitive, with our men from UNCLE traipsing across the globe tracking down one step daughter after another – and always Randolph and his cronies are on hand to throw a spanner in the works. But the repetition is not really a hurdle because each episode is fun, and has a great cast.

It’s probably not logical, but I rate this Man From UNCLE movie pretty highly. It is perfect lightweight spy entertainment with plenty of cliff hanger moments, which the boys have to extricate themselves from. This is also one of the more tongue-in-cheek movies of the series. The Man From UNCLE always had a healthy does of comedy thrown into the mix, but this is just swinging sixties excess at its best!

The Karate Killers (1967)

Target For Killing (1966)

AKA: The Secret Of The Yellow Monks
Country: Austria / Italy
Directed by Manfred R. Kohler
Stewart Granger, Karin Dor, Rupert Davies, Curt Jurgens, Klaus Kinski, Scilla Gabel, Adolfo Celi, Mollie Peters, Erika Remberg, Luis Induni
Music by Marcello Giombini

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the great actors from the 1960s who were at the forefront of the Spy Boom, Stewart Granger isn’t an actor that comes readily to mind. I guess that’s because his contribution to the spy genre were a few middling Eurospy films. Granger’s career wasn’t going too well at this time and he’d take any job that came along. Amongst his output were Red Dragon, Spy Against The World, Requiem For A Secret Agent and Target For Killing.

Target For Killing is a muddled affair, but reasonably entertaining on a throwaway level. But if you happen to be a Bond fan there are a few compelling reasons to watch the film. All of them are cast members. Let’s start with Thunderball – we have Adolfo Celi (sans eyepatch) and the beautiful Mollie Peters (sans mink glove, but in a bikini and a bath tub). Then we have our leading lady, Karin Dor, who would appear in You Only Live Twice a year later. Incidentally, Dor also appeared in Spy Against The World, but not in the same segment as Stewart Granger. However it did also feature Klaus Kinski, who also appears in Target For Killing. Am I painting a nepetitious little picture? Then finally we have Curt Jurgens who appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me, which is just another one in his long line of contributions to the spy genre.

Target For Killing is not the best Eurospy offering out there, and to be honest the English dubbing is pretty ordinary, but it is far from the worst either. After witnessing Granger’s turn as a hard bastard in Sergio Sollima’s Requiem For A Secret Agent it’s good to see him return to playing a likable, suave and sophisticated gent once again, and if the story is a bit confused, then does that really matter? Well in fact it does. I don’t mind that Eurospy films are occasionally silly and feature climaxes that could only be described as ‘dodgy science’, but if you are going to introduce a weird scientific element, run with it – play it for all it’s worth. Here, they have a premise about a ‘mind weapon’ and telepathy, but it only seems tacked on to the side. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s find out what it’s all about!

The damsel in distress in Target For Killing is Sandra Perkins (Karin Dor), and we meet her on a plane bound for Montenegro. Behind the curtains a sexy stewardess mixes Miss Perkins a drink, adding something a little extra to the concoction. She brings the drink out and walks down the aisle, but as she is about to hand over the drink, a clumsy man in the seat opposite, stretches out and accidentally knocks the tray and sends the glass flying. The clumsy oath is James Vine (Stewart Granger), who, as we all know dear readers, is a secret agent.

Vine’s intervention has caused a bit of a stir in the cockpit. You see, the two pilots – one who happens to be Klaus Kinski – and the stewardess work for a despicable fellow called ‘The Giant’ (Curt Jurgens). The Giant has ordered that Perkins be killed. Without any weapons at their disposal, and knowing that The Giant will not tolerate failure, the flight crew decide to bail out with parachutes and let the plane crash.

Vine notices the crew leaving, but doesn’t think anything of it until he see three parachutes open out of his window (he must have been looking down). Realising that something is wrong, he convinces Perkins to go with him to the cockpit. It may seem like a catastrophe waiting to happen. but it isn’t all doom and gloom, because Vine was once in the airforce. He takes to the pilot’s seat and has Perkins man the radio. It has been a while, be he manages a rough old landing.

Now why would anybody want to kill a nice girl like Sandra Perkins? Well it appears that in three days, on her twenty-fifth birthday she is set to inherit a filthy amount of money. If she is dead, the money will go to other interested parties. Why is The Giant’s interested in Perkins and the redistribution of the money? Well he’s not actually an evil mastermind. He is evil, but he is not the mastermind. He’s more like a branch manger for an un-named evil organisation. From his Montenegro branch office, which happens to be in a monastery, he performs all sorts of illegal activities. And that’s why James Vine has come to Montenegro. He’s not here to protect Perkins, but is here to track down and shut down The Giant. But back to the point at hand, The Giant has been instructed by his superiors to kill Perkins.

The thing with The Giant that stops him from just being another underling is that he has hired some quality underlings of his own. The first is his evil henchwoman, Tiger (Scilla Gabel). She gets around in a pair of tight fitting black leather pants and wields a machine gun with unrivalled expertise. Then there is The Giant’s evil seductress, Vera Stratten (Mollie Peters). She uses her body to get to her targets. And finally there is Dr. Yang (Luis Induni), who is an expert on telepathy and torture. He has a special gift of getting into peoples minds, which causes them to lose all free will. The Giant and his cadre of hench-people are a formidable target for James Vine.

Worth a quick mention is the absolutely fantastic soundtrack by Marcelo Giombini which features a fantastic fuzzy electric guitar. Whenever the story seems to be losing pace and purpose, the guitar kicks in and you just ride with it until the movie finds its feet again.

I want to like Target For Killing and I want to recommend it to everyone, but in all fairness I can’t as a spy film. But if you’re interested in the cast, then go ahead, track a copy down. If you’re interested in swinging spy guitar grooves, track a copy down. If you’re interested in empty lightweight espionage thrills, track a copy down. Oh yeah, and if you’re interested in Scilla Gabel in black leather pants, then track a copy down. If none of those categories appeal to you, then you’re going to have to look elsewhere for espionage thrills.

Target For Killing (1966)