Retro Heaven

The Ipcress File at Fifty

The 50th anniversary of The Ipcress File movie…

Ipcress_File_British_quad_posterCan it really be fifty years since The Ipcress File was released in the cinema?

The film franchise starring Michael Caine as the English spy, Harry Palmer broke with Bond-esque tradition and stayed true to Len Deighton’s less glamorous vision of the world of espionage and in doing so won the BAFTA for Best Film.

It was released three years after Deighton’s novel of the same name and like Fleming’s spy hero, Palmer is anti-establishment, drinker, smoker and womaniser, albeit it on a moderate wage which he is eager to point out to his superiors.

The Bond connection didn’t stop there, the film was produced by the legendary Bond Producer Harry Saltzman with four others from the franchise taking part including Ken Adam and the composer behind the haunting soundtrack, John Barry. Whilst Saltzman was in favour of making the Bond films as big and as bold as they could manage he had a clear vision of the feel for this film. The cinematography, which used the relatively new widescreen format of the time incorporating short focal length lenses gave the movie a unique, atmospheric edge. Slightly zany in places, it eschewed the vibe of the swinging London scene at the time to portray a city and a group of civil servants as they really were; slightly lowly, dowdy figures who could only dream of Ian Fleming’s vision of a world far removed from their own.

Whilst Connery’s Bond was ordering Bollinger and oysters for room service, Caine’s Palmer was whisking eggs for an omelette in his cramped apartment whilst smoking a cigarette and listening to Mozart. Palmer believes in his own worth whilst his employers share an altogether different view and it is this relationship which makes for far more amusing one-liners than the Bond-Moneypenny-M dialogue ever managed.

So fifty years on it is still a very watchable movie, Caine managed to make wearing glasses and a beige raincoat look cool and for that alone it’s a film worth celebrating.


4 replies »

  1. The film of Billion Dollar Brain is obviously something of a comedown, Funeral in Berlin being the pinnacle, the book is also not up to Len Deighton’s best work, I don’t think it helps being technology based, it obviously dates badly and what was once a wow factor is almost laughable.


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