|Neil Connery as Neil Connery|
"I want to be generous. In return for your services, I will give you your life." -- Beta
Wanting to cash in on the James Bond craze like a dozen other producers, somebody got the bright idea of casting Sean Connery's younger brother, Neil, as the hero in this dubbed Italian spy movie. They also cast Lois Maxwell and Bernard Lee (Miss Moneypenny and M) in what are basically the same roles they play in the 007 films. Then they enlisted Adolfo Celi, the villain from Thunderball, and Daniela Bianchi, the heroine from From Russia With Love and concocted a stew that mixes elements from Thunderball (the sinister organization Thanatos instead of Spectre; the evil Rosa Klebb-like lesbian), Goldfinger (Thanatos wants to control the world's gold reserves), and the climactic battle from both films in which the forces of good try to stop the forces of Thanatos from employing a magnetic wave device that will make machinery, planes, arms, etc. inoperable. The basic plot is workable, but there are too many digressions in this, and while it begins well, Operation Kid Brother quickly degenerates into something that is very busy but not very entertaining. Maxwell and Lee actually have more to do in this film than in any of the Bond movies (the producers of the 007 flicks could not have been thrilled with their participation, even if this film was no competition), and they do it well, as does Celi as Mr. Thai or "Beta." Anthony Dawson, who appeared in three Bond films in smaller roles (playing a barely seen Blofeld in two of them) does a beautiful job as the highly dangerous and menacing "Alpha;" it's too bad his performance couldn't have been captured in a better movie. (Dawson most famously appeared as the would-be murderer in Hitchcock's Dial M. for Murder.) As for Neil Connery, few people would make the connection between him and his brother. Now and then you can catch the resemblance from a certain angle, but otherwise he doesn't much look like Sean and he has none of his presence or panache, although he is not unattractive in his own right. In this he is sort of cast as himself, "Dr. Neil Connery," a plastic surgeon who is also an expert archer and has amazing hypnotic powers. M and Miss Moneypenny -- I mean, "Commander Cunningham" and his female assistant "Max" -- refer to Neil's "older brother," who is a master spy, throughout the movie. The biggest problem with the film isn't the script or acting but the direction of master hack Alberto De Martino [The Chosen], who seems overwhelmed by everything and can't craft engaging action sequences to save his life.
Verdict: Ultimately this is pretty bad. *1/2.