April 15: King Yourself! — Pick a movie released by Crown International Pictures. Here’s a list!
CIA killing machine Cross (Burt Lancaster) is retiring, but not before he trains his replacement, Jean Laurier (Alain Delon), alias Scorpio, to replace him. The CIA wants Scorpio to kill Cross for suspected treason and working with the enemy, but Cross pays him off and takes him back to America.
Cross’ Soviet counterpart Sergei Zharkov (Paul Scofield) helps him to get away from a trap and into Vienna, but Cross wants to rescue his wife Sarah *Joanne Linville) too. Unfortunately, the CIA gets to her first, which means that he decides to get revenge on the man who ordered the hit, McLeod (John Colicos). That makes the CIA throw even more money at Cross to pull off the job on his teacher.
It turns out that Cross has really been making money by playing every side against one another and even has Scorpio’s girlfriend on the payroll. The young agent kills her with no remorse and tracks down Cross, who tells him that he needs to always watch his back, because after he’s killed, they’ll be looking to clear up any loose ends. Spoiler warning. He’s right.
Scorpio was written by David W. Rintels and produced by Walter Mirisch, at least until director Michael Winner wanted to change the script and United Artists picked him over Rintels and Mirisch. What ended up on screen is a lot like another Winter movie, The Mechanic.
Even though the CIA are the bad guys in this movie, Winner was permitted to shoot in their headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It was the first movie ever shot there, even after Winter showed them the script. Even odder, Cross’ home is really CIA Director Richard Helms’s house. Perhaps they were allowed to do so because Lancaster asked Senator John V. Tunney if he could get them into the building.
You can watch this on Tubi.