The Black Windmill has a workable premise, a unspectacularly decent cast (Delphine Seyrig, Donald Pleasance, Janet Suzman, Clive Revill, Dennis Quilley, Edward Hardwicke and Joss Ackland among them) and a good director in Don Siegel, but it never catches fire. Michael Caine, playing a very different spy to Harry Palmer - more of a middle class career army officer who never needed to be blackmailed into the job - finds himself being set up by the vicious kidnappers of his young son to steal some diamonds intended for some dubious operation, eventually finding himself having to avoid his employers, the French and British police and take out the very bad guys (hey, it is John Vernon). All of which sounds at least more energetic than the film actually is. It moves along with competence, dotting the `i's and crossing the `t's, but even though a surprising amount happens in the last half hour, it never seems to develop any tension or urgency. Along the way there's a nice Sean Connery joke and a neat scene that manages to reference both The sound of Music and Caine's own Battle of Britain, but the good Scope composition and the typical 70s Roy Budd score make more of an impression than anything else in the film.
Uiniversal's DVD has no extras, but it does boast a good 2.35:1 widescreen transfer that at least ensures the film looks its best and has none of the panning-and-scanning problems of the TV prints.