Michael Caine stars as subordinate British agent Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File, the first of the three films he made in the role between 1965 and 1967.
Adapted from the Len Deighton novel of the same name; Palmer is assigned to find who is behind the disappearance and brainwashing of a number of leading scientists. Is there a sinister reason why Palmer has been selected for this mission? He certainly begins to suspect so.
A complex plot, shot well with tension and suspense throughout, Caine puts in a performance that reminds us why he was becoming such a star at the time. The impressive soundtrack is provided by the legendary John Barry who’s subtle, moody tones set the scene from the outset.
The name ‘Harry Palmer’ was only assigned to Caine’s character at the start of filming as Len Deighton wrote all three books in the first person and without reference to the lead.
Also starring in the film are Sue Lloyd, Nigel Green and Gary Doleman. There is also a part for Gordon Jackson who would later play Bodie and Doyle’s governor Cowley in the Professionals.
At the time Harry Palmer was being touted as the next James Bond, he was in truth a much more likely secret agent. Without being flash and having the use of gadgets anti-hero Palmer got the job done using no more than his brain, a Colt 32 and good old fashioned hard work.
The Ipcress File set the precedent in tense spy thrillers that proved to be a hard act to follow.