Thursday, September 10, 2009

Review: OPERATION KID BROTHER

After years of reading about it, I finally got a chance to watch Operation Kid Brother (a/k/a OK Connery, Operation Double 007) the infamous Eurospy film starring Neil Connery, the younger brother of 007 himself, Sean Connery. The film also stars 007 film veterans Adolfo Celi, Daniela Bianchi, and Anthony Dawson, as well as (much to the annoyance of Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli) series regulars Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell.

Directed by Alberto De Martino, Operation Kid Brother is an amusing novelty of a movie. Neil Connery plays, uh, Doctor Neil Connery, the younger brother of England's top secret agent. Doctor Neil is not a spy – but he is a plastic surgeon, master hypnotist, lip reader, expert archer, and probably hell of a croquet player. He looks a bit like his brother, but sports a neatly-trimmed van dyke beard and utterly expressionless eyes – which is regrettable since we get so many close-ups of those vacant orbs. When his sibling is unavailable for a mission, a Commander Cunningham (Lee) and Miss Maxwell (Maxwell) recruit the multi-talented civilian.

It seems that an evil organization called THANATOS (actually, that's a pretty cool name) is out to conquer the world with a magnetic device that will cause all machinery to stop working. The man in charge of the operation is Mr. Thai (Celi), and he's aided by the lovely Maya (Bianchi). Fortunately, defeating Thai and THANATOS specifically requires a lip-reading plastic surgeon with hypnotic powers – and, let's not forget, master bowman – so everything works out all right in the end.

Actually, there's a lot of fun stuff in this flick. Lois Maxwell gets to do a lot more here than she ever did as Miss Moneypenny, even toting a machine gun and participating in a commando raid. The climax, in which a group of Dr. Neil's archery buddies invade Thai's underground lair and perforate his leather-clad guards with arrows, is entertainingly surreal. Bianchi's costumes are delightfully over-the-top, and the score, by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai is bouncy and upbeat.

Neil's just awful, though. Calling him a block of wood is an insult to trees. As I mentioned above, his eyes are lifeless, which, combined with his nearly immobile face, is somewhat disturbing. When a young woman – one of his patients, mind you – is shot in front of him while passing on secret information under hypnosis, he shows no emotion at all. Occasionally he manages to look irritated, so I guess that's something. It doesn't help that his voice is dubbed by someone with a flat, American accent. Assuming his own line readings were unusable, couldn't they at least found someone with a Scottish accent?

Anyway, I've finally seen it, and I'm glad I did. I also watched the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of the film this week, and that was fun, too. The movie inspired some particularly funny commentary from Joel and the 'bots, and their Connery-inspired comedy sketches were great.

• Interestingly, the movie poster art above was the work of the legendary Bob Peak, who also painted the poster for 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me and some ultimately unused promotional art for 1989's Licence To Kill.

2 comments:

Tanner said...

Yeah, that Peak poster's a classic! I love it. More akin to his Sixties stuff like Modesty Blaise than that later (and also great) Bond stuff you mention.

I'm glad you liked the movie! It IS a lot of fun, isn't it? Much better than its reputation suggests. But you make very good points about Neil's performance. And by "better" I mean that it's fun to watch, not that it's anything brilliant. While I think the MST3K version of Diabolik is an offense against a wonderful film, I have no compunction about what they do to Operation Kid Brother! It's another way to enjoy the movie, and they're very funny.

Kevin Collette said...

Invited Alberto Di Martino to attend a Film Festival with an Hommage to Italian Genre Cinema in France a couple of years back . We couldn't find a decent 35mm copy of Kid Brother though !
Guy is geat , and still has wonderful memories about the film ( apparently Neil Connery was a bit difficult to direct . And his brother tried everything he could to have the production stopped...But in vain ) .
Kevin