Billion Dollar Brain

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Billion Dollar Brain was recently added to the Library's collection and suddenly found itself with 22 requests placed on it. Not bad for a 1967 film that very few people have ever heard of !! It is the third of the Len Deighton Harry Palmer spy sagas after IPCRESS FILE and FUNERAL IN BERLIN. What sets this apart is the brilliant direction by the British filmmaker Ken Russell. This was Russell's first big feature after a series of highly acclaimed BBC-TV documentaries on the lives of composers and artists. It was followed by WOMEN IN LOVE which really made people sit up and take notice.
The intricate Cold War plot follows MI5 agent Harry (Michael Caine) into Latvia and Helsinki, Finland to track down a series of double agents while also delivering a thermos of deadly toxins. Harry has an amorous liaison with Francoise Dorleac and mysterious encounters with fellow agent Karl Malden. Two more colorful characters in the person of a Russian General Oscar Homulka and a fanatic right-wing Texan General Midwinter (Ed Begley) stir the pot. It culminates in Begley's invasion of the Soviet Union with the help of computers ("I've got enough information here to program communism from the face of the earth"). This last sequence is a masterful parody of Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky.
This film was finally released to DVD after 38 years in limbo and is a joy to watch for the beautiful camerawork (includes breathtaking winter vistas in the snow), for the intricate plot, and for the subtle humor that pops up all the time.
-Wayne

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This page contains a single entry published on December 2, 2005 7:39 PM.

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