ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: The Assassination Bureau (1969)

Based on an unfinished novel by Jack London published posthumously — it was finished by Robert L. Fish — in 1963, this Basil Dearden-directed movie was written by Michael Relph and Wolf Mankowitz. Reporter and women’s rights champion Sonia Winter (Diana Rigg) doesn’t just want to expose the Assassination Bureau Limited, she wants to destroy them and have its chairman, Ivan Dragomiloff (Oliver Reed), assassinated.

This delights Dragomiloff, who goes back to the teachings of his father, who started the killing cabal and said that they needed to only kill people who deserved to be killed. Now, his father’s colleagues kill for money instead of reasons of morality, so he dares them: accept Winter’s contract and kill him before he murders them.

From Paris and Zurich to Venice and Ruthenia, they battle the killer elite in humorous battle, climaxing in the entire Assassination Bureau — and their true leader, Lord Bostwick (Telly Savalas), who was Winter’s boss who got this whole business started — to protect the world’s leaders as they enter peace talks while a bomb-bearing zeppelin hovers overhead.

Later this same year, Rigg and Savalas would battle again in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

I really had fun with this movie, as sure, it’s a 1969 big budget and somewhat aged spy epic from a time unfamiliar to my American eyes. But man, Rigg is a delight and Oliver Reed is wonderful. And Telly seems to be having a great time, too.

The Arrow Video release of The Assassination Bureau has new audio commentary with authors Sean Hogan and Kim Newman; Right Film, Wrong Time, a 30-minute appreciation by critic, broadcaster and cultural historian Matthew Sweet; a trailer; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork choices and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Katherine McLaughlin and a set of six reproduction lobby cards from the original release. You can get it from MVD.

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