As a lifelong Bond fan, I thought I had seen all the OO7 rip offs from sixties cinema. Yes, I’m talking about you Matt Helm and Derek Flint. But before both of those film series launched, 1965 saw THE LIQUIDATOR hit theatres.
Rod Taylor (Hotel, The Time Machine) stars as Boysie Oakes, a clumsy soldier who manages to save Colonel Mostyn (a dashing Trevor Howard) from attackers. Boysie can’t seem to fight or shoot, but he does save Mostyn’s life in a style more befitting Inspector Clouseau than OO7.
The film then moves forward to 60’s London, where the Colonel is looking for a new type of agent, a Liquidator to take out any enemy of the state upon command. Talk about a license to kill!
He approaches Boise and lulls him into the job with a London bachelor pad to rival Austin Powers’ loft. Dig that groovy bar that pops out of the furniture, baby! And how about all those gorgeous birds that float in and out of the apartment. This is a time capsule of a very different time. The costumes, music and photography are terrific and at times, hilarious.
After botching his first assignment, Boysie hires another hitman to do all his assigned jobs, which turns out to be a hell of a plan, leaving Boysie plenty of time for amorous conquests of all those stunning young ladies.
It also earns him a reputation as one of Her Majesty’s most effective killers, which is bound to backfire globally in enjoyable ways.
Jill St John is Mostyn’s secretary Iris, forbidden fruit for Boysie that he can’t resist chasing. Six years before she’d play Tiffany Case against Connery in “Diamonds Are Forever”, St. John is a blast, even if her English accent falls off as often as her mini skirt.
Wilfrid Hyde-White is great as The Chief, David Tomlinson (Mary Poppins) is the perfect spy foil against Taylor and the parade of beautiful London ladies rivals any Bond lineup.
Rod Taylor is effortlessly effective as Boysie, but he’s a lot more believable as the lethal agent he becomes than the bumbling soldier he is as the film opens. The final twenty minutes at a military base, complete with battles around and on a massive plane are very reminiscent of “The Living Daylights”.
It’s also a lot of fun to see a younger Trevor Howard, sporting some outrageously cool clothes and oozing unique sixties style. Howard made plenty of legendary films like “The Third Man”, “Ryan’s Daughter” and “Superman” but I’ve never seen him like this.
I wasn’t sure about this spy spoof at the start, but after Shirley Bassey belts out “The LiquidatoOOOORRRRRRRR!” title theme with the same breathless power she did with “Goldfinger” the year before and Boysie settled into his pad, THE LIQUIDATOR kicked into gear and had me laughing and enjoying its 60’s spy movie vibes for the rest of the ride.
I’ll give it a nostalgic B+.
After bombing at the box office, the next two planned films in the series never got made. What a shame! Even Dean Martin’s Matt Helm got three turns on the big screen between 1966 and 1968! Maybe Boysie was just a little ahead of his time.