Memories of Pop Culture Past
During this holiday season I've taken the opportunity to track down some more of these pop culture fragments which swim around my subconscious. Specifically, I was able to watch, for the first time since childhood, the two late sixties 'Bulldog Drummond' movies with Richard Johnson, which tried to transplant the old anti-Semitic, proto-fascist bully boy British hero of the 1920s and 1930s into the swinging sixties, as some kind of sub-Bondian super-spy, bedding bevys of 'birds' inbetween saving the world. Beyond some of the character names, the films had little to do with the original novels. (To be fair, earlier Hollywood versions starring the likes of Ray Milland and John Howard as Drummond had already transformed him into a fairly standard urbane, but two-fisted, crime fighter). They also, as executed, resembled Bond movies less than they did the 'Eurospy' Bond knock-offs that were flooding the market around this time. Anyway, I had a childhood memory of a scene where a business man is paralysed with a drug by a pair of female villains, which leaves him aware of what's happening, but unable to move. They then throw him off of the balcony of his penthouse to make it look as if he'd committed suicide. Whilst I knew that it originated with one of these films, I was sure it was the second, Some Girls Do. This was for two main reasons: I was convinced the unfortunate victim was played by James Villiers, who I knew was in the second movie, and the fact that I knew that the second film involved a villain using female 'robots' to assassinate people involved with a supersonic aircraft project.
However, watching the films back-to-back on You Tube on Christmas Eve, I realised that I was badly mistaken. The scene was from the first film, Deadlier Than The Male. Moreover, the victim was played by Leonard Rossiter, not James Villiers. To be fair to myself, it isn't difficult to get confused - the two films are remarkably similar in many ways - in both the main villain Carl Petersen (plated by Nigel Green in the first, James Villiers in the second) employs a pair of sadistic female assassins as sidekicks and both culminate with Drummond held prisoner in the villain's lair before turning the tables. Anyway, whilst watching the first film, I suddenly came upon another scene I vaguely recognised but had never associated with either movie: Drummond's irritating American nephew is captured by the two deadly women, tied to a table and tortured with lit cigarettes. Pretty strong stuff for a film of that period, which is probably why it stuck in my young mind when I saw the film on TV some when in the early seventies. All of this left me wondering whether I'd ever actually seen the second film. Upon watching it, though, I definitely recalled the whole business with the supersonic airliner and the scene where Villiers dresses as the Duke of Wellington. That said, whilst much camper than the first one, Some Girls Do has fewer truly memorable moments than its predecessor.
So there you are - some more fragments of pop culture memories fall into place for me! I'll be returning to the subject soon.