One of the many dozens of James Bond send-ups and rip-offs, this spoofy affair is distinguished by a typically suave and disarming performance from David Niven, who in 1967 played Bond himself in Casino Royale.
Niven plays country doctor Jason Love, cajoled into joining MI6 and sent to the Middle East to defend Britain’s vital oil interests, armed with a pen that shoots a novocaine dart and a micro-transmitter hidden in his tooth – “You probably won’t use them” says his gizmo supplier at MI6, “but they’ll help psychologically”.
Love dallies briefly with his contact, stunning French model/spy Vikki (Françoise Dorléac) before reaching Beirut. Here, tangling with Libyan hitmen and double agents, Love uncovers a Soviet plot to assassinate a Libyan prince.
Love seems pretty bemused by this spy lark and treats the whole thing as a joke until innocent people start getting killed.
The usual scrapes, escapes, explosions, lethal gadgets and bedroom seductions ensue, all treated in a rather obvious satirical style by co-writer/director Val Guest.
David Niven, an ex-commando, handles himself well in the action scenes, the most exciting of which involves Vikki’s fashion shoot providing cover for the assassination attempt. After saving the day, Love escapes clinging to the side of a helicopter, only to fall into the villains’ hands.
The witty climax involves minor characters trying to figure out how to bring down a Soviet plane without firing a shot.
John Le Mesurier, as the head of MI6, does a lovely turn at mimicking and mocking Bernard Lee.
Dr Jason Love
Col Douglas MacGillivray
John Le Mesurier