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Puppet on a Chain

Little seen in the US, but often compared to "Bullitt" and "The French Connection" thanks to its climactic boat chase, PUPPET ON A CHAIN is a decent thriller from the mind of Alistair MacLean.

MacLean wrote "Ice Station Zebra" & "Where Eagles Dare" and adapted his own novel for the screen for this 1971 thriller.

Sven-Bertil Taube stars as American agent Paul Sherman, who arrives in Amsterdam just in time to witness an airport assassination. Working with an uncooperative police force, Sherman tries to track down a thriving heroin ring operating at full tilt.

Barbara Parkins (Valley of the Dolls) is Sherman's beautiful undercover agent, who works with him to uncover an elaborate (and arguably ridiculously complicated) drug distribution ring involving a priest names Meegeran, played at full volume by Vladek Sheybal of "From Russia With Love" fame.

When Sherman visits nightclubs to track the drug ring, the music is hilariously dated and flirts with Austin Powers territory in its early 70's psychedelic madness.

The filmmakers aren't playing with a big budget, but deliver with some great action sequences, including the 15 minute boat chase finale that echoes a similar sequence in 007's "Live and Let Die" that would debut two years later.

The music score is classic late sixties spy genre, Parkins is great and Taube is a serviceable, if somewhat wooden hero.

If you can overlook some major holes in the plot (if any of the agents would just talk to each other, they'd solve the mystery in about 30 minutes) and just enjoy the action, there's retro European-Spy fun to be had.

It gets a groovy B-.

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