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

Thursday, March 29, 2018

THE LIQUIDATOR

Rod Taylor
THE LIQUIDATOR (1965). Director: Jack Cardiff.

"You sucked me into this, you horrifying old monster!" -- Boysie to Mostyn.

Army screw up Boysie Oakes (Rod Taylor) accidentally saves the life of a man during WW 2. This man is now Colonel Mostyn of British Intelligence, and when he is told by his superior, the Chief (Wilfrid Hyde-White), to find someone who can commit unsanctioned assassinations for the government, his mind turns to Oakes. Mostyn mistakenly thinks that Boysie has murdered his business partner, and is sure that he is just the right man to eliminate -- or "liquidate" -- numerous enemies of the British government. Unfortunately, Boysie hasn't the temperament for murder, so he comes up with a scheme to get the job done and still keep his cushy apartment and high salary. But some enemy agents think Boysie is the real deal and enlist him in a plot that could get him hung for high treason. The Liquidator is a semi-spoof of James Bond, with a hero who is nothing like 007, but while the film is amusing it never descends into out and out parody or major silliness, which is a big plus. It also helps that talented Taylor [World Without End] is terrific as Boysie, giving his performance and the whole picture just the right note, light but not farcical. Jill St. John [The Lost World] also scores as Mostyn's secretary, who hopes to have a vacation with Boysie on the Cote d'azur, despite the fact that her boss frowns upon fraternization among employees, to say the least. Akim Tamaroff [Anastasia] fits the bill as an enemy agent who kidnaps Boysie, and Eric Sykes makes an oddly personable hit man for hire. Howard and Hyde-White are as excellent as always. Lalo Schifrin's score and the brisk direction of Cardiff keep this moving at a fast pace. The Liquidator was based on a novel by John Gardner, who later took over the mantle of writing James Bond books after the death of Ian Fleming. He wrote a few sequels to The Liquidator, but to my knowledge this was the only film featuring the character of Boysie Oakes. Shirley Bassey sings the title song a la 007.

Verdict: Entertaining movie with Taylor on top of things. ***.

4 comments:

angelman66 said...

Taylor really paid his dues...I keep seeing him pop up in late 1950s movies in small key roles, particularly in Giant as Liz Taylor's spurned fiance and a small role in Sepoarate Tables with Rita Hayworth and David Niven, before he hit it big as a movie star. My favorite of his is, of course, The Birds. Need to check out The Liquidator now too, thanks to you!
-C

William said...

I think Taylor's best performance was in an episode of Twilight Zone -- wish I could recall the name -- in which his army buddies disappear one by one, and he played with such convincing fear and passion that he was quite moving and excellent. Always an under-rated actor.

Gary R. said...

Rod Taylor was one of the original choices for the role of James Bond, but he turned it down as being beneath him. He later considered his decision to be one of the worst mistakes of his career.

William said...

I was not aware of this -- he would have made a decent or better James Bond. Too bad. Thanks for the info, Gary.