20 November 2015

EFSP's Dazzling Dozen: the Eurospy Craze

During the 1960s, the hugely successful James Bond film series initiated a new European film genre, the Eurospy film. In 1964, two years after the release of the first James Bond film, Dr. No (1962), and the same year of the release of Goldfinger (1964), a large wave of espionage films was released. These European international co-productions imitated and/or parodied the 007 films.

Sean Connery
British postcard by Klasik Kards, London, no. 1543. Photos: publicity stills for From Russia with Love (Terence Young, 1963) with Sean Connery as James Bond, Daniela Bianchi and Martine Beswick. Scottish superstar Sean Connery (1930) played the original secret agent 007 in seven James Bond films between 1962 and 1983 - all were big box-office hits.

Ursula Andress
Serbian postcard by Cik Razolednica. Photo: publicity still for Dr. No (1962). Stunning Swiss sex symbol, starlet and jet-setter Ursula Andress (1936) will always be remembered as the first and quintessential Bond girl. In Dr. No (1962) she made film history when she spectacularly rises out of the Caribbean Sea in a white bikini.

Gert Fröbe and Sean Connery in Goldfinger (1964)
Dutch postcard. Sent by mail in 1966. Publicity still for Goldfinger (1964) with Sean Connery as James Bond and Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger.

A spy wave

Dr. No (Terence Young, 1962) and especially Goldfinger (Guy Hamilton, 1964) - the third and quintessential episode of the James Bond series - created a large wave of Eurospy films.

Michael Caine became the cool special agent Harry Palmer, and Richard Johnson played agent Bulldog Drummond.

There were popular Eurospy films from France (a series around Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, aka OSS 117) and Germany (the Kommissar X and the Jerry Cotton series), but most of the Eurospy films were produced in Italy.

There, the Eurospy trend replaced the Peplum films, the declining sword and sandal genre. The heroes of these films were secret agents who were often given a name similar to James Bond (Charles Bind, Charles Vine or James Tont), or a code name matching, or similar to, James Bond's '007'.

Many films featured former Hollywood B-stars like George Nader, Gordon Scott, Lex Barker and Jacques Bergerac. And British TV followed the trend with such delightful sixties series as The Saint, Danger Man and especially The Avengers.

George Nader as Jerry Cotton
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg, no. 4250. Photo: Constantin / Studio Hamburg / Allianz / Astoria / Winterstein. Publicity still for Schüsse aus dem Geigenkasten/Operation Hurricane: Friday Noon (Fritz Umgelter, 1965) with George Nader as Jerry Cotton. Ruggedly handsome American actor George Nader (1921-2002) was a Universal star of second features in the 1950s. During the 1960s, Nader’s career had a second life in the European cinema as secret agent Jerry Cotton.

George Nader as Jerry Cotton
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Der Tod im Roten Jaguar/Death in the Red Jaguar (Harald Reinl, 1968) with George Nader as Jerry Cotton.

Michael Caine
British postcard by Boomerang. Photo: Everett Collection. Michael Caine (1930) became an unusual but ultra-cool star of the British cinema of the 1960s with his role as the spy Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File (Sidney J. Furie, 1965) and its four sequels.

Jacques Bergerac (1927-2014)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: Publicity still for the Italian-French-Spanish Eurospy film Missione speciale Lady Chaplin/Operation Lady Chaplin (Alberto De Martino, Sergio Grieco, 1966) with Daniela Bianchi and Jacques Bergerac. The film was a part of the Secret Agent 077 trilogy and starred Ken Clark. Italian actress Daniela Bianchi (1942) also played luscious Soviet cypher clerk Tatiana Romanova in From Russia with Love (1963). One of her otherEurospy films was Operation Kid Brother/OK Connery (Alberto de Martino, 1967), a James Bond spoof starring Sean Connery's younger brother, Neil Connery.

The Avengers, Diana Rigg, Patrick MacNee
French postcard by Universal Collections, 2002. Photo: Canal+ Image UK Ltd. The Avengers (1961-1969) is a delicious, quirky Spy-Fi television series set in cold war Britain. In one-hour episodes, The Avengers focused on the adventures of eccentric, suave British agent John Steed (Patrick Macnee) working for the 'Ministry'. His most popular investigative partner was Diana Rigg's Emma Peel, who combined self-assuredness with superior fighting skills, intelligence, and a contemporary fashion sense.

Richard Johnson (1927-2015)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Deadlier than the Male (Ralph Thomas, 1967) with Richard Johnson as Bulldog Drummond and Suzanna Leigh. Johnson was considered for the role of James Bond in the first Bond film, Dr. No (1962). He declined the part as he did not favour a lengthy contract. He then played a modern-day Bulldog Drummond (reimagined as a 007-type hero) in Deadlier Than the Male (Ralph Thomas, 1967) and its less satisfactory sequel, Some Girls Do (Ralph Thomas, 1969).

Christopher Lee and Roger Moore in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Dutch postcard by Loeb Uitgevers BV, Amsterdam, no. 5992109, 1985. Photo: Eon Productions / Gilrose Publications / Danjaq S.A. Publicity still for The Man with the Golden Gun (Guy Hamilton, 1974) with Christopher Lee and Roger Moore as James Bond. In 1973 Moore replaced Sean Connery as 007 and till 1983 Moore starred in seven Bond films.

Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights
British postcard by Danjaq A.S. / United Artists, 1987. Photo: publicity still for The Living Daylights (John Glen, 1987). Timothy Dalton (1944) played James Bond in The Living Daylights (John Glen, 1987) and Licence to Kill (John Glen, 1989). His first outing as Bond, The Living Daylights (1987), was critically successful and grossed more than the previous two Bond films with Roger Moore.

Jason Connery
British postcard by Santoro Graphics, London, no. BW 136. Photo: Paul Cox / Idols. British actor Jason Connery (1963) is the son of Sean Connery. Jason portrayed author Ian Fleming in the television drama Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (Ferdinand Fairfax, 1990). Fleming was the creator of the James Bond character, which made father Sean into an icon and started the Eurospy craze.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

This post was last updated on 19 May 2023.

No comments: