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When Innocent Bystanders was released in 1972, the secret agent phenomenon whipped up by James Bond a decade earlier had long since died from overkill. Closer in spirit to Harry Palmer than 007, Pauline Kael called this labyrinthine espionage tale “a revolting example of the constant use of brutality (plus a dash of sexual sadism) to rouse the audience from the apathy brought on by the familiarity of the material.” I haven’t seen it since it came out, but I remember going twice hoping it was the first in a new series. (It wasn’t, but the poster hung on my bedroom wall until I went away to college.) The lead spy, John Craig, was played by Stanley Baker, a good actor who never quite became a mainstream star. (Consider him Sean Connery Lite.) Although he was knighted in 1976, Baker died shortly after from lung cancer and pneumonia at the age of forty-eight. Playing his main squeeze was Geraldine Chaplin, an excellent actress of considerable pedigree whose svelte physique and delicate beauty ran contrary to the buxom standards of superspy dollbabes. Her bad girl counterpart is played by Sue Lloyd, a hot tomato who played Peter Cushing’s messed-up fiancée in the positively insane Corruption (1968). Also on hand are Dana Andrews, Vladek Sheybal (the chess whiz in From Russia with Love) and Donald Pleasance (as ‘Loomis’). During one dialog-free scene of a car driving around the countryside, Norman ‘Hurricane’ Smith (a Pink Floyd producer known for croaking out “Oh Babe, What Would You Say?”) sings the forgotten non-hit “What Makes the Man.” If you’ve got a copy of this to lend, please drop me a line.
Labels: James Bond, Movie posters, Pink Floyd, Une affaire de Flickhead