Deadlier Than the Male (1967)

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Released 1-Dec-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Cult Interviews-Cast-On Set Interviews
Featurette-Location Reports
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Image Galleries
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 93:41
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (83:12) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ralph Thomas
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Richard Johnson
Elke Sommer
Sylva Koscina
Nigel Green
Suzanna Leigh
Steve Carlson
Virginia North
Justine Lord
Leonard Rossiter
Laurence Naismith
Zia Mohyeddin
Lee Montague
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI Box Music Malcolm Lockyer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, everyone lights up constantly
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Someone is using beautiful women including Irma Eckman (Elke Sommer) and Penelope (Sylvia Koscina) to assassinate the owners of wealthy companies, thus paving the way for insider takeovers and huge profits. Insurance investigator Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond (Richard Johnson) becomes involved when asked by Sir John Bledlow (Laurence Naismith), a member of the board of Phoenician Oil, to look into the “accidental” death of the head of Keller Oil, whose death opens up an opportunity for Phoenician Oil to pick up his oil concessions.

     Drummond is joined in London by his American nephew Robert (Steve Carlson) and also receives part of a tape recording from a murdered friend. His investigations and the tape place both Drummond and Robert in danger when Irma and Penelope try exploding cigars, bombs, hired muggers and sex appeal in attempts to kill them. The trail then leads to the Mediterranean where King Fedra of Akmata (Zia Mohyeddin), who by refusing all offers from oil companies who want to develop his countries oil fields, has become a target for murder. The criminal mastermind behind the murders, Carl Petersen (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) (Nigel Green), has plans for King Fedra and Drummond. There, in a final game of cat and mouse, or more properly chess with giant pieces, Drummond must rely on his wits and ingenuity to survive, resist all temptation from deadly, beautiful women and save the day.

     Deadlier Than the Male is one of a number of thrillers made in the 1960s to cash in on the success of the James Bond films, such as Our Man Flint, The Silencers or even Modesty Blaise (all from 1966). We have a handsome, suave, sophisticated and very cool leading man, pretty women in bikinis, an evil master criminal, exotic locations and very Bond type music including the theme song, sung by The Walker Brothers. It also has “witty” one liners: when a man is drugged and thrown over a balcony to his death, Irma observes “men often fall for me”. Yet, it must be said that Deadlier Than the Male is very entertaining and a lot of good clean fun. Elke Sommer and Sylvia Koscina, dressed or in various stages of undress, look stunning, Richard Johnson is an engaging hero, the plot is interesting and the 1960s fashions, especially the big hair, are fun. There is also a very British civilised charm about proceedings – all is terribly good manners, with brains and intelligence, and the occasional fisticuffs, almost exclusively replacing guns, chases and loud explosions. Mostly, anyway.

     Deadlier Than the Male is also very tongue in cheek with deliberate subversions of Bond films. When Bond is imprisoned in Goldfinger (1964) he “seduces” Pussy Galore and they thwart Goldfinger’s plans. When Drummond is imprisoned Deadlier Than the Male he shares a romantic seduction scene with Irma, which ends with him rejecting the half undressed Elke Sommer. Her retort “you are unnatural” is a sentiment all red blooded males would agree with.

     There are other in jokes in the film as well. The character of Bulldog Drummond first appeared in the 1920 novel of that name by Herman C. McNeile and he went on to appear in numerous novels, as well as a range of films starting in 1922; he has been played by actors as diverse as Ronald Coleman, John Barrymore and Ray Milland. Drummond was originally a WWI veteran, so obviously his character has gone through a few manifestations over the years until 1967. Interestingly, the evil criminal mastermind in Deadlier Than the Male was called Carl Petersen, who in fact was Drummond’s arch enemy in the first four Bulldog Drummond books but who was killed in book four, The Final Count, in 1926! A nice touch. And, in the sense of completing a circle, Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, once said that he was influenced by Bulldog Drummond when he created Bond. Now the compliment is returned.

     Deadlier Than the Male has a handsome, suave, sophisticated and very cool leading man, pretty women in bikinis, an evil master criminal, exotic locations and very Bond type music. While never challenging the supremacy of Bond, Deadlier Than the Male is very entertaining, a lot of good clean fun, and well worth a look.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Deadlier Than the Male is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     I don’t know what I was expecting but the print is excellent for its age. There is softness in some scenes, the colours are fairly muted and some skin tones looked a little pale. However, blacks are good, shadow detail is fine and detail and brightness even. Aside for some edge enhancement and minor grain, I did not see any blemishes or artefacts. The layer change at 83:12 resulted in a slight pause.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoded at 224 Kbps. The film was released with a mono mix. I heard no cracks or hiss, the dialogue is clear, and the effects acceptable, if understandably flat.

     Lip synchronisation was occasionally off.

     The score by Malcolm Lockyer was James Bondish and orchestral which suited the film without breaking any new ground. The Walker Brothers sang the theme song Deadlier Than the Male by John Franzand & Scott Engel, but it is probably best forgotten.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     For a fairly low profile 1967 film there are a surprising range of extras.

On Set Interviews

     Black and white on set interviews with the principal cast members. Some of the interview material is in poor condition, with artefacts, hairs and scratches and hiss on the sound track. Yet, these are well worth watching as most of those interviewed came across as natural and charming, with interesting things to say. Interviewees are:

Location Reports

     Two black and white 1966 promotional featurettes with footage from the film shoot in Lerici, Italy, complete with voiceover narration and film music. They feel very dated. There are some artefacts, such as the prominent hair 4:40 – 6:02 in the second featurette, but are not as bad as the interviews. One featurette, Jetty and Castle (15:15), concentrates on the filming of two scenes while the other, Off set (14:21), is a highly idealised look at the stars of the film in leisure activities. Mostly forgettable.

Image Galleries

     Literally hundreds of colour and black and white images. They are silent, but advance automatically approximately every 3 seconds. I lost count, but there are about 660 stills, a huge number if you like this sort of thing. The sections, and the time it takes to get through them, are as follows:

Theatrical Trailer (2:53)

Collector’s Card

     A two sided publicity card for the film is inside the DVD case.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US edition is reported to be full frame, non 16x9, with no extras. Our version is region free and would be the same as the version available in the UK. Stick with the local release.

Summary

     While never challenging the supremacy of Bond, Deadlier Than the Male is very entertaining, a lot of good clean fun, and well worth a look. The video is very good for its age, the audio is good and the extras are interesting and include more stills than you can poke a stick at.

     Deadlier Than the Male is the first film in a two disc set with the follow up Drummond adventure, Some Girls Do (1969).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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