Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Tom Adams as Charles Vine
THE 2ND BEST SECRET AGENT IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD/aka Licensed to Kill/1965). Director: Lindsay Shonteff.

In this English James Bond imitation, agent Charles Vine (Tom Adams) is assigned to assist a Professor Jacobsen (Karel Stepanek), who wants to sell a special formula of his own invention. A group of mostly Russian agents are out to stop Vine, and employ an exact double of Vine in an attempt to kill him. 2nd Best Secret Agent is not a parody like other Bond rip-offs, but is basically played straight and doesn't have the more absurd elements of the later Bond films. Being English instead of a dubbed Italian makes Adams a more convincing British agent, and he is not a bad actor, getting across his character's air of superiority, his urbane charm and sense of humor, and of course, his love of women. Adams is also convincing in the scenes when he's fighting for his life and reveals a certain human desperation underneath the cool exterior. Adams may not be as "macho" or brutish as Sean Connery, but he's quite effective. Alas there's no great villain for him to play against, and the women are hardly the super-sexy beauties of the 007 movies. Vine follows one attractive Asian lady up a stairs and discovers that she is a he in disguise, leading to a lively battle. There's another good scene involving soldiers trying to kill Vine and the professor, and a very good, rather suspenseful scene featuring a gun battle between Vine and an antagonist on the deserted dockside streets. There are too many long scenes of the co-conspirators talking and talking about what they're going to do or what's already happened. Adams needed a spy movie with better production values and probably a different director. Adams starred in two sequels to this film.

Verdict: A lead actor who needs a better vehicle. **1/2.

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