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Thursday, November 07, 2019

James Bond Had Forerunners ...


Before 007, There Was Margaret Lockwood in Highly Dangerous (1950)


Margaret Lockwood studies insects for her living, but is induced by the Home Office to spy on a mythical principality's misuse of the critters for war purpose. Action gets at times Bondian, Lockwood and assist Dane Clark sneaking into enemy labs not unlike what 007 later detonated to dispose of "heroin-flavored bananas." Everything that 60's-clicked in Britain had fascinating origin that sometimes went way back. Maturing Lockwood, no longer the girl-in-distress of The Lady Vanishes, is a determined secret agent. She's even captured by the opposing side (Communists? It's not explicit, but certainly implied) and given sodium pentothal in a surprisingly explicit, and harrowing, highlight. Dane Clark is the American reporter who tags along --- as if she needs help --- and indeed, he's mostly ineffective. That secret plant they penetrate, by the way, nicely anticipates similar facilities Professor Quatermass would search for awful truths. Highly Dangerous had a US release via Lippert Films, and played for most part as support to that company's Lost Continent, a sci-fi with frankly greater B.O. promise. There's been no DVD release, but for Region Two, which includes Highly Dangerous in a Margaret Lockwood box set. TCM shows the film occasionally.

5 Comments:

Blogger Reg Hartt said...

https://trakt.tv/movies/highly-dangerous-1950

7:59 AM  
Blogger stinky fitzwizzle said...

Stinky loves this movie. Always thought of it as more Hitchcock than Bond.

It seems Eric Ambler adapted this from one of his early novels where a scientist suffers a konk on the noggin and fancies himself a super-spy. To paraphrase the Rev. Harry Powell, Stinky disremembers the name.

Far be it for Stinky to speak ill of anyone, but Dane Clark is pretty bland. But at least it is not George Raft.

11:51 AM  
Blogger DBenson said...

Many years ago saw a 30s British flick titled "Q Planes". The plot is basic spy stuff: a secret weapon is being deployed against military planes. The execution is a harbinger of "The Avengers", with Ralph Richardson as a playful photo-John Steed.

Another comic thriller is "Night Train to Munich", made after "The Lady Vanishes" and bringing back the same two veddy British twits. It doesn't date as well as Hitchcock's film -- it features dumkoff Nazi officers and a "concentration camp" that's jawdroppingly at odds with the (yet unknown) reality. Rex Harrison is another playful agent, rescuing the damsel from Germany.

There was a weird reticence about explicitly Soviet villains, a little like pre-WWII films that served up Dictatorships-That-Weren't-Germany. Recalling a Benny Hill spy parody. Every time his boss delicately referred to "a certain foreign power", Hill would smirk knowingly at the camera and whisper "Russia" as if that were privileged information. A favorite TV and movie default was the totally independent supervillain, hired to do supervillainy or selling secrets "to the highest bidder".

4:40 PM  
Blogger Lionel Braithwaite said...

There's been no DVD release, but for Region Two, which includes Highly Dangerous in a Margaret Lockwood box set.

A multi-region DVD/Blu-Ray/4K player is your friend.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Dan Oliver said...

Highly Dangerous is available in Region 1 from VCI.

11:15 AM  

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