Just for the dozen of you, or so, who complained that I missed The Assassination Bureau (1969) in my Man Candy Monday post on Oliver Reed, I decided that I should watch it and review it in atonement.
I think this Pinterest user sums it up perfectly:
The book was unfinished, the film was pretty much rubbish, but Diana and Olly were at their most gorgeous…
Olly and Diana definitely get marks for being absolutely stunning in this film, but beyond that…
I know this will likely offend all of you who love the film, but it is pretty much rubbish. The content did not age well over the last 50 years. The film came out during the first wave of feminism hitting its peak, so we are treated to a lot of winks-and-nods to progressive ideas about women taking on the patriarchy, but it’s done with hefty heaping of eye-rolling that I was hoping was going to be used as a foil for Diana Rigg‘s character, the spunky aspiring journalist Sonya Winter, but nope. It pretty much was the overarching theme. And while Oliver Reed’s character, Ivan Dragomiloff, was charmingly one-dimensional, Rigg’s character went from frigid man-hater to dead-weight woman within the first 10 minutes.
I guess you have to take into account the culture in which this film was created, but eh, I’m not going to waste my breath reifying the systemic sexism of the late-1960s. We already know what societal and cultural fuckery we are working with here, and it’s probably best for everyone’s sanity if we just move along.
Where the film is strongest is actually the costumes, which for the late-1960s, is saying a lot. Beatrice Dawson, probably best known for her work on the 1976 version of The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones, demonstrates a competent understanding of pre-World War I fashion re-imagined for a Swinging Sixties audience. The hair is big, but not too big. The men’s suits flirt with an exaggerated lapel, but dial it back just in time. There is a definite 1960s-does-1910s look to everything, but it’s not egregious.
Which is not to say that some choices were made.
But for the most part, the costumes were above-average for the era.
The introduction of Eleanora Spado, the Italian femme fatale, upped the game considerably costume-wise.
The butterfly-butt dress was pretty spectacular:
And this little number she wears to the morgue…
As well as this little number under it…
Even Sonya ups her game in the costuming department:
But then we’re back to practical clothing for the finale:
And here’s just a couple of photos of Oliver Reed being Oliver Reed:
How upset are you that I didn’t love The Assassination Bureau as much as you?