47 Years of Student Run Cinema
Student Film Society of the Year 2002, 2005, 2006
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Sidney J Furie, UK 1965, 108 minutes
Producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, the team behind the Bond films, decided to ditch the ultra-glam razzmatazz and head in the opposite direction with "Anti-Bond" (not UniBond - that's a type of glue) spy, Harry Palmer (Michael Caine). Based on the novel by Len Deighton, the antics of Harry Palmer are perhaps truer to the life of a real intelligence agent; altogether grittier and without the girls on every arm.
Caine plays an undisciplined sergeant (read maverick cop) who gets seconded to the intelligence division and finds he spends more time filling out forms than chasing after criminals. However, things heat up when he investigates the disappearance of a missing scientist. We follow the elaborate steps taken to rescue the hostage, while on the way Palmer is subjected to violent brainwashing after being captured. Ultimately however, he must find a way to save the day.
There is some striking cinematography in this film, all low camera angles and tight shooting. Director Furie also imbues the film with plenty of heavy symbolism. It is Caine however who provides the main reason to see this film. He shows the world that he can in fact act and his effective underplaying of the role adds much to the authenticity of the picture. By doing this, he ensures The Ipcress File measures up as a sincere portrait of life in the department.
Review by Neil Chue Hong
Taken from EUFS Programme 1997-98