Based on the first and the best of Len Deighton's novels about myopic, flabby antihero Harry Palmer (Caine), THE IPCRESS FILE is a witty, fast-paced espionage film. Palmer, a British army sergeant stationed in Berlin, is nabbed for black marketeering but told that he can do his penance by
serving as a counterintelligence agent. When Radcliffe (Richards), the latest in a string of scientists to be kidnapped, disappears along with a top secret file, Palmer is put on the case. During the investigation, a mysterious tape turns up with "Ipcress" written on it, and just when it appears
that the case is about to be cracked, an agent is murdered and Palmer is confronted by the real--and surprising--enemy.
The best part of the film is Caine's characterization. Hardly a superhero, Harry Palmer is an ordinary chap tossed into a maelstrom in much the same way Alfred Hitchcock placed people in situations beyond their scope and then let them triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds. Canadian-born Sidney J.
Furie seems determined to be a flashy director here, but if his restless camera and kooky mise en scene are sometimes just plain weird, they are also sometimes stylishly suited to the foolishness of the entire undertaking. Look for a scene in which Harry makes coffee in his elegant caffetiere, a
very chic device at the time. (It's that kind of movie.) Produced by Harry Saltzman, the coproducer of many James Bond films, THE IPCRESS FILE gave rise to two sequels, FUNERAL IN BERLIN and BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN, both of which starred Caine. Neither was as exciting or enjoyable as this one,
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