“ Genre: Crime & Thriller / Theatrical Release: 1967 / Parental Guidance / Director: Ken Russell / Actors: Michael Caine, Karl Malden, Oscar Homolka, Francoise Dorleac, Ed Begley ... / DVD released 2004-09-06 at MGM Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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Billion Dollar Brain was the third adaption of one of Len Deighton's Harry Palmer novels of the same name, and though it's not as good as the first two and at times is a bit daft in the second half, it's still a very entertaining film that does very nicely for a rainy day when you can't do anything else.
Michael Caine reprises his role as Harry Pamler, Guy Doleman is back as Colonel Ross and Oskar Homolka has a welcome return as Colonel Stock. It also has three other notable co stars in Karl Maldon, Ed Belgely and Donald Sutherland as the voice of the 'Brain'.
Harry Palmer has quit the SIS and is now working for himself as a very unsuccessful Private Investigator in London. However, one evening a man comes into his office. The man starts to search through the office. At that moment, Harry returns and switches on the light. The man is Colonel Ross, who tells Harry that he needs him and that he will give him the small pay rise he wants. Harry declines, and as he does a man brings a package to him. Colonel Ross leaves. At that moment the phone rings, and Harry finds himself speaking to a machine that gives him instructions. He has to take the package to Helskinki.
Once in Helsinki, Harry the trail an old friend called Leo Newbiggin (Karl Malden), who tells Harry that he can get him a job. They go to an office, where Harry meets pat of 'The Brain', a huge computer system that connects around the word and has its HQ in Texas. Leo and Harry get their new orders, and are required to assassinate someone . However, Leo can't go through with the assassination, and lies to the Brain.
From that moment, Harry suspects that Leo is involved in something even deeper, and after a murder and being forced to work for Colonel Ross again, he becomes convinced, leading to an over the top, but fun climax.
This isn't as good as the first two films at all. It's good enough in terms of entertainment, but does suffer from a loose plot.
In fairness, the first half of the film is brilliant. There are some wonderful moments between Harry and Colonel Ross, Leo Newbiggin and Colonel Stock (always a wonderful character). There are some really good espionage moments, and what you watch is believable.
But when Harry goes to the USA to meet Genereal Midwinter, the film does lose its tension and the plot trails off a bit. However, it's still entertaining and has plenty of action in it. The acting is as good as ever, and Michael Caine does brilliantly with an average screenplay, as do the support cast. Oskar Homolka as Colonel Stock steals the scenes again. And the action is always constant, even if at the end it's a bit unbelievable. Well worth watching.