Jumping on the Bond wagon, producer Sydney Box decided to take on one of 007's antecedents and update him to the swinging sixties. Thus Sapper's square jawed, colonial defender of the Empire, Bulldog Drummond, became international insurance investigator Hugh Drummond, played with suave charm by one time Bond candidate Richard Johnson. The other shrewd move by the producers was to avoid the over spoofing of Bond's world that the other rivals had laden themselves with and instead devise a film that balanced the right amount of tongue in cheek thrill with a neatly structured script, above average production values, a cool theme song by Scott Walker, and a cracking finale worthy of a Bond caper itself.
Elke Sommer breezes across like a force ten hurricane as the film's titular assassin, working for the world class villain Carl Peterson, portrayed with the right blend of light and dark by Nigel Greene. The film's climatic showdown between hero and nemesis, in which Drummond traps Peterson on his own giant chess set and crushes him with the robotic pieces, is a memorable piece of imagery that helped lift the film above the bigger budgeted hackwork of Matt Helm or Derek Flint.
A hit in its time, Johnson returned as Drummond three years later in an uninspired follow up, Some Girls Do. With its use of "fembots" and a younger Peterson back from the dead without explanation,the film strayed too much into the territory of the other Bond spoofs and was deservedly buried.
Deadlier Than the Male, after decades of neglect, now appears to be re emerging as a cult film, thanks in part to Quentin Tarentino naming it as one of his favourite movies. This led to a newly restored printed being screened at Cannes and is now on DVD, complete with its sequel.