VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the May 9, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.
How we see actors based on our own experience with them is strange.
George Segal is, to me, one of the stars of the sitcom Just Shoot Me!
That’s who I see him as. I realize the tremendous blind spot — which I have been filling — I have by skipping so much of his career.
But wow, it’s a leap to experience him playing a secret agent.
Based on the novel The Berlin Memorandum by Elleston Trevor, this film was directed by Michael Anderson (Orca, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, Logan’s Run) and written by Harold Pinter.
Two agents have already died as they investigate the neo-Nazi group Phoenix — led by Oktober (Max Von Sydow) — in Berlin. Quiller (Segal) is brought in by his handler Pol (Alec Guinness).
It may have a John Barry score, but this isn’t a Eurospy movie. Yes, it’s a spy movie, but so much of it is spent in the coded conversation about cigarettes that feel more like secretive men finding one another in the park than anything resembling James Bond.
What Eurospy element is in this movie? Senta Berger, Quiller’s perhaps enemy and definitely love interest. She was also in Bang! Bang! You’re Dead!, The Poppy Is Also a Flower and The Ambushers.
As for George Sanders being in this film, his role was so small that his co-stars claimed that they never even saw him on the set.
The major difference between this and nearly every other spy movie of its time is that in those movies, you wanted to be an agent. Watching this, it just seems exhausting. In no way do I want to have to endure the life of Quiller.