20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
One of the best espionage films. and it's no spoof,
This review is from: The Ipcress File [DVD] (DVD)
"Let's see," says Major Dalby, head of the Counter-Intelligence Bureau, as he reads Sergeant Harry Palmer's personnel file. "'Insubordinate. Insolent. A trickster. Perhaps with criminal tendencies.' Well, that last one may just be put to good use."
Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) has been sent to Dalby (Nigel Green) by Col. H. L. Ross (Guy Doleman) of Britain's Ministry of Defense. Scientists have gone missing, and the few who have shown up later seem to have been brain washed. They are no longer useful. Dalby's unit is charged with finding out what's going on. And Harry Palmer, like it or not, who loves to cook and loves the birds, who wears glasses, who is not impressed with authority, who can be a bit unreliable when he chooses to be, and who actually is a pretty good spy, is assigned to help break the case. Eventually he does, but not without a lot of pain and a fair amount of violence. Palmer can take it, but he can dish it out as well. He also has a shrewd, analytical mind. He's willing to gamble and sometimes he's off the mark. And all the while he has to deal with the bullying, condescending Dalby, "a passed-over major," as well as Col. Ross, who drips condescension like an ice cube on a hot day. Harry Palmer doesn't have it easy.
I think this is one of the better espionage movies made. It's not a spoof, like the Bond movies. Harry Palmer, based on the Len Deighton character (to whom Deighton never gave a name), as played by Caine is immensely likable because he takes the measure of the stuffed shirts and is amused by their pretensions. The character also works because as the story proceeds you realize that Palmer knows his job. The two secondary actors, Green and Doleman, bring a lot of depth to their roles and a lot of interest to the movie. Their attitudes are so imperviously superior it would be amusing except that they both wield quite a bit of power.
This is a movie that I can watch many times and still enjoy for its style and story-telling prowess. Furie throws in some directorial flourishes common then that now seem a bit dated, but that's a minor quibble for a well made and well acted movie. The DVD transfer is just fine.