The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966)

You know how I’ve discussed how Eurospy films often feel like the United Nations, what with so many countries working together to make these movies? This American/French/Austrian made-for-television spy and anti-drug film — also known as Danger Grows Wild — was made with the United Nations themselves as part of a series of television specials designed to promote the organization’s work. It was produced by Xerox.

So how does it tie-in to Bond? Well, 007 director Terence Young is at the helm — he passed up Thunderball to direct this — and it’s based on a story by Ian Fleming.

In an attempt to stop the heroin traffic at the Afghanistan–Iran border, some United Nations operatives inject a trackable radioactive compound into a seized shipment of opium and let it go go back into the wild to try and find Europe’s top heroin distributor.

German-born Sente Berger — who is also in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. film The Spy with My Face and The Ambushers — is here, as is Stephen Boyd (Ben-Hur), Yul Brynner, Angie Dickinson, Georges Geret, Hugh Griffith (another Ben-Hur alumnus), Jack Hawkins (who took as many roles as he could late in his career before his three-pack-a-day habit stole his voice), Rita Hayworth (!), E.G. Marshell, “If I Had a Hammer” singer Trini Lopez as himself, Marcello Mastroianni, Amedeo Nazzari (a huge Italian star from before World War II and well afterward), Omar Sharif, Barry Sullivan, Nadja Tiller (Death Knocks Twice), Eli Wallach (who won an Emmy for his role), Grace Kelly (this is the only movie she made after retiring from acting in 1957) and Harold “Oddjob” Sakata. Truly, this is the very definition of a star-studded affair.

All of them were paid $1 each to be in this film, with Young working for free.

One of the producers, Edgar Rosenberg, was of course the husband of Joan Rivers. This is the movie where Joan would meet Hayworth and write that she was demanding and incoherent, yet still glamorous. That said, it’s possible that Hayworth was already beginning to suffer from the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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