008: Operation Exterminate / A 008, operazione Sterminio (1965)

4.5 out of 5

The plot is wafer thin. This should not really matter too much as the story, which concerns the tracking down of an anti-radar, is little more than a frame on which to hang a series of confrontations with enemy agents set against delightful scenery and involving pistols, gadgets and karate chops. An anti-radar, so it transpires, turns out to be some sort of frosted glass ball that glows and is not dissimilar to the passive alien in Dark Star.

The film, directed by Umberto Lenzi, features a female Bond figure of a lead. 008, armed with a tear gas dispensing lipstick, is played by Ingrid Schoeller and she has a male sidekick. This gender role reversal in itself sets the film apart from so many entries to the genre but the original point of reference and obvious influence is underscored as the camera homes in on a copy of Live and Let Die by Ian Flemming. This is, after all, an exploitation of the the themes of the 007 series of movies.

Mod fashion, breathtaking Egyptian and Alpine vistas and a villain who fires daggers from a prosthetic hand are just some of the delights in store. A couple of frankly crackers head-scratching twist and turns in the final minutes subvert the predictable linear narrative and add further interest to this superior Eurospy outing.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics