the colonial theatre marquee

The Ipcress File

Directed by Sidney Furie. UK. 1965. NR. 109 minutes. Universal. 35mm.
Sun., March 4, 2012
March 4, 2012
2:00 pm

Early in his screen career (even before he hit it really big with his breakout role as Alfie in 1966), Michael Caine was becoming quite a well-known actor in his native Britain. One of his most highly-regarded performances from that period was as star of this tense and complex spy thriller. At a time when “spy thriller” generally referred to the wild, over-the- top shenanigans of the James Bond films, this was an exciting, often droll exercise in intelligent intelligence work, based upon the best-seller by Len Deighton. Caine plays the bespectacled Harry Palmer, a somewhat shifty cockney British army sergeant who is caught dealing in the black market and is forced to do penance by serving as a counterintelligence agent in cold-war Berlin. Rather that being a Bondian super-spy, he is more of a regular bloke, thrust into dangerous situations that build tension and rely on his resourcefulness and wit. NOTE: The success of this film led to two sequels, Funeral in Berlin and Billion Dollar Brain, both starring Caine; however, this is roundly regarded as being the best of the bunch. Watch it and find out why. (Bill Roth)