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The Persuaders


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#1 chrisno1

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 09:38 AM

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The Persuaders

 

I have recently been watching the repeats of The Persuaders on True Entertainment. This 1972 series from Lew Grade’s ITC stable starred, of course, the recently departed Sir Roger Moore and the late, great Tony Curtis. Following will be my reviews of each of the twenty-four episodes, a body of work which has allowed the show to become a cult TV classic.

 

In order the episodes are:

1 Overture
2 The Gold Napoleon
3 Take Seven
4 Greensleeves
5 Powerswitch
6 The Time and the Place
7 Someone Like Me
8 Anyone Can Play
9 The Old, the New and the Deadly
10 Angie, Angie
11 Chain of Events
12 That’s Me Over There
13 The Long Goodbye
14 The Man in the Middle
15 Element of Risk
16 A Home of One’s Own
17 Five Miles to Midnight
18 Nuisance Value
19 The Morning After
20 Read and Destroy
21 A Death in the Family
22 The Ozerov Inheritance
23 to the Death, Baby
24 Someone Waiting

 

There are also three novelisations written by Frederick E. Smith, simply entitled Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, which feature stories adapted from the series.

 

Book One: Overture & Angie, Angie
Book Two: Five Miles to Midnight & Someone Like Me
Book Three: The Gold Napoleon, Greensleeves & The Old, the New and the Deadly

 

All things being well, the first of my reports will appear tomorrow.

 

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Edited by chrisno1, 16 June 2017 - 09:44 AM.


#2 AMC Hornet

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 04:16 PM

I'm just finishing my DVD set for the second time (didn't know about the novelizations).

I love the fanciful high-flying world of the late sixties as presented in the series. That's the world I wanted to grow up in; what did I get instead? The eighties.

So I've decided that I can live that way now, if I want to. Lots of Bossa Nova playing in my home these days. Also The Persuaders any time I want them.



#3 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 07:43 AM

People may already know this - but THE PERSUADERS was a huge hit in Germany due to a dubbing full of additional jokes.  

And while most of them feel almost embarassingly silly today as a kid I loved this "dubbed" show a lot.  

 

And, yes, recently I gave it another spin on the wonderfully restored blu ray set - and I had a ball.  Just mindless entertainment, with two lead actors who know that this is pure drivel.  Love it!



#4 chrisno1

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 02:07 PM

Thanks, guys.

I'd be interested in your feedback !

:D  :D  :D



#5 chrisno1

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 02:22 PM

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Episode 1: OVERTURE

Director: Basil Dearden
Writer: Brian Clemens

 

The opening episode of the 1970s T.V. series The Persuaders sets in place the characters and much of the tone of the following twenty three. Danny Wilde, a millionaire oil magnate, and Brett Sinclair, an English Lord and millionaire playboy, are each given an invite to a mysterious location in the south of France where they are ‘persuaded’ to help investigate the disappearance of an underworld capu.
 

Their employer is Judge Fulton – an unlikely name for a character I assumed would be French – and he has picked these two layabouts because they share a love of adventure that he identifies as ruthless ambition mixed with sheer cunning. I’m paraphrasing. It doesn’t really matter why they are chosen, for this episode, as pointed out by the metaphorical title, is merely a sign post to the audience, our introduction to Tony Curtis and Roger Moore as the titular Persuaders.
 

The director is Basil Dearden, a name more often associated with smallish British cinematic fare, some of which were quite gritty, like The Blue Lamp, Victim, Sapphire and The League of Gentlemen. He went international in the sixties and made adventures like Masquerade and Khartoum; he’d even directed both Connery (in Woman of Straw) and Moore (The Man who Haunted Himself). He was right at the end of his career here and while the episode shows flashes of cinematic style, he’s clearly not over interested in the narrative.

 

For all that he and editor Derek Chambers do a good job emphasising The Persuaders’ character traits through a series of split screen scenes during a long chase down the Cote d’Azur. The playboy element is heavily reinforced from the outset as each man is introduced surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women and driving flashy, fast cars (a red Ferrari Dino for Danny and a horrific banana coloured Aston Martin DBS for Brett) accompanied by a groovy piece of throwaway pop (“Gotta Get Away”) written and performed by Jackie Trent and Tony Hatch.

 

Later, like schoolboys, they argue over the composition of a cocktail and it appears their love-hate relationship as well as their fate as The Persuaders is sealed. [For the record, Brett is correct: there should be only one olive in a Creole Scream.] The fight itself is played badly for laughs and is repeated again later in the episode with far greater success and humour. In fact there is rather a lot of fist fighting in this story, which is actually rather slight and, when we get there, told with the minimum of fuss.

 

A beautiful girl called Maria Lorenzo is suspected of being the sister of Robert Du Pont (Michael Godfrey), the supposed deceased capu. As Fulton and most of the local police operatives are known to Maria or her bodyguards they can’t get close enough to identify her. The plan is to use Brett and Danny to do just that, authenticating her by a heart shaped birthmark on the small of her back. The wily Judge also plants some incriminating evidence to ensure the boys cooperate to the denouement of the tale, although the delectable Maria seems persuasion enough. They really have little choice: a gaol sentence for affray hangs over them if they fail to follow orders.

 

The external scenes look blissfully exotic, certainly for television c.1971/72. The studio scenes are neat and tidy. Everyone is well groomed. Of the actors, Imogen Hassel as Maria carves a suitable portrait of feminine interest, although I’m certain its Nikki Van Der Zyl dubbing her lines, and Laurence Naismith has a recurring role as Judge Fulton, a half-way M, who authorises the missions and has a few neat lines of pithy dialogue to deliver.

 

Overall I enjoyed the episode, although the physical humour did get tiring. It was well constructed, pleasantly written and presented with much pizzazz. Perhaps too, at this point, the leads are enthusiastic enough to take the shenanigans a tad seriously and that helps, if only to persuade us their acting personas, which really do seem be impersonations of Tony Curtis and Roger Moore, are a touch more genuine.

 

 

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#6 chrisno1

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 09:33 AM

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Episode 2: The Gold Napoleon
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Val Guest

 

When a beautiful blonde artist is shot and injured as she talks to Danny Wilde, the police believe the incident is an attack on his life. The Persuaders prove it otherwise.

 

The girl, played with stunned blankness by Susan George, is the niece of a master forger, a man who has secretly used her moulds to fashion fake coins known as Gold Napoleons. In itself this is not a crime, but the use of undeclared gold to manufacture the pieces and its subsequent export is.

 

And so begins a breezy long winded pursuit along the coast of southern France involving the local Mafia and a hoard of coins. As in the initial episode, Judge Fulton holds much of the intel. This is a workman-like affair stretched possibly ten minutes too long. It has moments of humour and features a lot of action, right from the pre-credit gambit, involving a helicopter pursuit, until the extended car chase to the Italian border. Roy Ward Baker, a steady hand, handles everything most adequately.

 

Generally this is a good and good looking chapter which solidifies much of what we learnt in episode one without ever taxing the audience too much.

 

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Edited by chrisno1, 19 June 2017 - 10:16 AM.


#7 chrisno1

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 10:22 AM

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Episode 3: Take Seven
Director: Sidney Hayes
Writer: Terry Nation

 

A stroppy youth, Mark Lindsey, visits his father’s grave and returns to his ancestral home to claim his birth rite – but all is not as it seems. His sister, Jenny, refuses to believe her brother is back from the dead, yet her behaviour suggests she may have motives of her own.

 

So we have a good-looking stately home, arson at broken-down farmyards, feuding families, dodgy mystery informants and a beautiful femme fatale; so far, so adequate. While the story doesn’t hold many surprises, accepting that the Persuaders themselves have inexplicably relocated to London, it is competently directed and nicely acted, particularly by Sinead Cusack and Christian Roberts as the rival siblings.

 

Terry Nation wrote several stories for The Avengers and this has all those hallmarks. For instance, there’s an odd-ball, know-it-all, informer (‘Farmer’), who insists on meeting in odd-ball places, like The Serpentine Walk in Hyde Park or Alexander Place S.W.17., two of several cinematic moments director Sidney Hayes offers us. Similarly Laurence Naismith’s Judge gives our heroes the low down on the case while having a cut and shave at his traditional barbers.

 

When The Persuaders first meet Jenny their encounter is interrupted by a lone gunman and suddenly the chase is on for the reluctant two-some until, like all good mysteries, they unveil the culprit in the final reel. Overall Take Seven is a good example of the type of episode ITC could throw together with their eyes shut. It is fun, not too violent, although it has action, and is decently written. If it feels a little bit too 1970s in presentation that’s probably due to the costumes – off the peg from Total Look at Debenhams – now that’s something you don’t see nowadays on a television show! Roger Moore, who [unbilled] was an executive producer on the series actually designed his own outfits and those, like his rather long hair, seem remarkably out of step with the rest of the cast’s wardrobe. Indeed as a whole the seventies were a bit out of step and while this story is good, it feels much grounded in its time.

 

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#8 AMC Hornet

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 04:06 PM

Indeed - what other time should it be grounded in?



#9 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 06:15 AM

By the way - I was astonished to see Curtis apparently doing a lot of his own stunts in episode 2.  And they looked pretty dangerous (the climbing through the hall, the jumping on the driving truck) and all the more exciting.



#10 Dustin

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 12:18 PM

I think Curtis was already showing his age a bit - hair thinning and massively grey in some episodes - and also on the circuit from film to TV, while Moore was going in the other direction. Curtis was probably very eager to show his abilities, especially at a time when guys like Belmondo still made it a point to do their own stunts. Curtis wasn't to be outclassed and still ready to give his contemporaries a run for the money. Nearly unthinkable today.

Very astute reviews, chrisno, top job.

#11 chrisno1

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:59 PM

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Episode 4: Greensleeves
Director: David Greene
Writer: Terence Feeley 

 

We are still in England and now there is not even a sign of Laurence Naismith’s canny Judge Fulton. France, it appears, has been forgotten.

 

This episode opens with Danny and Brett breaking into the Sinclair estate, Greensleeves. Someone has authorised repair work to the mansion and Brett wants to discover the perpetrator. In doing so, the Persuaders uncover an attempt at international political blackmail by an obscure splinter group, the target of which is an old friend of Brett’s, the president of the African republic of Zanda, Richard Congoto. To achieve this Andrew Kier’s John Hassocks has deceived Brett’s aged butler and is on the hunt for an actor to successfully personify Lord Sinclair.

 

Given the ridiculousness of his scheme, it’s rather fortunate that Roger Moore should happen to drop by and he enters, disarmingly charming and disdainful as Brett Sinclair disguised as an out of work actor impersonating Brett Sinclair. Also enter Tony Curtis as a hapless American valet who sounds ever so slightly like Cary Grant.

 

So when Brett’s Brett is described as “a superficial performance with no character detail” you really have to chortle. The whole episode is something of an elaborate joke on Moore’s [and indirectly Curtis’] acting. A good cast – beautiful Rosemary Nicols, devious Andrew Kier, strong arm man Tom Adams and Cy Grant as the sophisticated President – offer plenty of whimsy amid the skulduggery, secret handshakes, hidden tunnels beneath pubs, secret doors in stately homes and general mayhem. They give their all to a worthwhile plot which isn’t developed anywhere close to its possibilities.

 

The climax does have an unexpected twist or two and the realistic fight choreography is welcome, yet while I’d give the episode a thumbs up for entertainment, it is in all honesty simply an exercise in splendid daft fun.

 

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#12 chrisno1

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 11:12 PM

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Episode 5: Powerswitch
Director: Basil Dearden
Writer: John Kruse

 

Suddenly back in France, The Persuaders discover a dead body during a water skiing excursion. The girl in question was a dancer at a local club and this allows director Basil Dearden to give us some good old-fashioned ‘60s misogyny as a troupe of go-go dancers strut their stuff to wildly crass hippy music, all for Tony Curtis’ benefit. They dance as bad as that sounds. Lionel Blair has a neat cameo choreographing their awfulness.

 

In fairness, this episode isn’t all bad. It starts off in exotic holiday fashion and these scenes (along with several from Overture) form the base of the majority of the excellent credit sequence which opens every chapter of The Persuaders lives. This time the heroine is Pico Raine (Annette Andre) who believes her friend was murdered. So do Brett and Danny. The police appear both ignorant and negligent, although the Inspector seems to be working under the influence of Judge Fulton, so we know it’s a deliberate deception.

 

We visit a series of mansions and villas along the Cote d’Azur before we learn that wealthy Matthew Koestler’s inheritance is up for grabs and his wife wants it – except the dead girl once knew Koestler and had realised he is, in fact, a doppelganger. There’s considerably less action to this story and more intrigue. The threads of the plot take a while to untangle and when they eventually do it’s with a satisfying resolution.

 

At journey’s end we get to see Curtis and Moore throw a few dodgy dance moves of their own at Lionel’s club. Very ‘dad-at-your-wedding’. This is a likeable entry to the canon, improved by Dearden’s impulsive directing and a half-way decent script.

 

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And for those of you not familiar with the famous theme tune and credit sequence:

 

 

Tune in, turn up and enjoy !

 



#13 chrisno1

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Posted 22 June 2017 - 10:28 PM

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Episode 6: The Time and the Place
Director: Roger Moore
Writer: Michael Pertwee 

 

A dead body in the woods drags The Persuaders into a deadly game of coup d’état perfected by the affable, yet fascist, Lord John Croxley, played with just the right amount of despicable authority by Ian Hendry.

 

We’re back in England, of course, and in the realms of treason as typified by a conversation held beside Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London, where Brett Sinclair is warned by Anna Palk’s fetching Marie to stay out of the affair for the good of the country. 

 

Meanwhile Tony Curtis does his Cary Grant impersonation again and is kidnapped by two fake policemen. Escape comes via a spectacular car chase which ends in an expensive looking [for ITC] explosion. 

 

The action moves swiftly and is well orchestrated and directed. Roger Moore really proves his worth here with some nice creative touches from behind the lens – excellent use of foregrounds, good framing shots and a particularly fine piece of choreographed symmetrical movement. If the ending falls a little flat it’s hardly his fault and more to do with the writing which struggles to maintain itself for a full fifty minutes.

 

As always the minor coda is played for laughs but, from my point of view, it was only interesting as it afforded a view of Downing Street before they imposed those huge iron gates on us.

 

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#14 chrisno1

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 09:57 AM

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Episode 7: Someone Like Me
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Terry Nation 

 

Curiously there are no guest stars listed for this episode, which is written by regular ITC contributor Terry Nation and has a slightly sci-fi plot involving memory loss, assassination, kidnap, brainwashing and trigger words. Perhaps, once they saw the end the result, the actors all rather fancied anonymity.

 

The story involves a Brett Sinclair doppelganger primed to murder his old pal Sam Milford, played by Bernard Lee. [Given that in just a few years Lee, of course, will be playing M opposite Roger Moore's 007 in The Man with the Golden Gun, the novel of which features an attempt by Bond to kill his boss, you do wonder just how that movie might have turned out...] 

 

This chapter proceeds quite nicely through its scenario which includes a bluff to both the characters and the audience. Roger Moore and Tony Curtis are very good in this one, playing respectively a befuddled victim and a concerned friend. There’s an early scene of great mystery when Brett – or not Brett – wakes up in a hospital bed, only to discover he’s really residing in an eerie deserted dilapidated mansion; Roger Moore is suitably agitated. Tony Curtis’ Danny meanwhile remains convincingly perplexed throughout by the actions of his friend – or foe. 

 

Unfortunately while Someone Like Me has all the necessities of a Cold War thriller, the actual reason for Brett’s predicament seems remarkably bland and you feel an hour has been wasted on a crime of passion. The central performances deserve better.

 

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#15 chrisno1

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 09:38 AM

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Episode 8: Anyone Can Play
Director: Leslie Norman
Writer: Tony Williamson

 

The English Riviera, a casino in Brighton, Danny Wilde makes a small fortune at the roulette table, but his luck has unexpected results when his winning streak gets him mistaken for a Soviet spy. While the premise of the story has some merit, it is constructed with too many implausibles:

 

1 – a hopelessly convoluted password

2 – a suddenly, miraculously drunken Brett Sinclair
3 – a selection of helpless hoods
4 – a bumbling Tony Curtis mistaken for a manipulative agent
5 – a climax of extreme ridiculousness set on a rickety studio designed train carriage
6 – the world’s worst break-in
7 – a Soviet spy who is as useless at his job as Danny Wilde is at impersonating him
8 – a host of heavy accents
9 – caricature supporting roles
10 – a series of excruciatingly badly executed fight scenes
11 – a happy-go-Charlie-cheerful music score
12 – unimaginative direction
13 – a lethargic script

 

This really is one of those episodes which explains why The Persuaders was dubbed ‘the best worst T.V. show of the seventies.’

 

Plus points – yes, there are some – include an attractive female accomplice played by Cyd Harman and Richard Vernon’s English gent version of Judge Fulton, an intelligence head of some description, who seems to spend his working days playing the slots on Brighton pier. All in all, this tale has too much humour, too thin a plot and too many inexcusable inexplicables to be taken remotely seriously.

 

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Edited by chrisno1, 26 June 2017 - 12:29 PM.


#16 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 12:35 PM

Fabulous work, chrisno1.  

 

You are certainly aware that the forums are moving?  So please, as soon as you get your invite, start this thread there again and post your reviews there.  This thread is too good to lose, IMO.



#17 ggl

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 08:46 PM

Fabulous work, chrisno1.  

 

You are certainly aware that the forums are moving?  So please, as soon as you get your invite, start this thread there again and post your reviews there.  This thread is too good to lose, IMO.

Moving where?? Is cb closing??



#18 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 04:26 AM

 

Fabulous work, chrisno1.  

 

You are certainly aware that the forums are moving?  So please, as soon as you get your invite, start this thread there again and post your reviews there.  This thread is too good to lose, IMO.

Moving where?? Is cb closing??

 

 

 

Far from it:  http://debrief.comma...-cbn-is-moving/



#19 chrisno1

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 11:23 AM

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Episode 9: The Old, the New and the Deadly

Director: Leslie Norman
Writer: Brian Clemens

 

The Old, the New and the Deadly opens with a wizened old man listening to audio recordings of Hitler’s greatest speeches; so we know immediately that Le Marceau [played with some crazed malevolence by Patrick Troughton out to break his mould as Doctor Who] is a bit of a lunatic and must have Nazi sympathies. This means we are spared a lot of pointless explanations. Only one question remains: why is he out to kill Danny Wilde? 

 

Turns out, the father of Danny’s ex-girlfriend Suzy – a woman handily staying in the same Parisian hotel – was framed and hung for wartime crimes and Danny has inadvertently revealed a clue to the real culprit.  While unravelling the plot, a lot of good natured fun is had in and around Paris, some of it shot on location, some of it the ITC studio’s idea of swinging Paris: for instance Roger Moore gets to jive with two young dolly birds at a nightclub called Naturist, their expressions so far out the two girls look as if they really were on drugs during the filming. Cool, baby! 

 

At other times there’s some farcical goings on involving Darren Nesbit’s straight faced aloof hit man Grosky. These moments allow Grosky to become a genuine threat; he’s cold, calculating, careful, a very, very effective villain. Elsewhere Tony Curtis, forever the court jester, gets to utter a couple of classic ripostes which for once don’t seem out of step with the proceedings: when answering the telephone he says: “No, this is not Mr Schultz!” [his real name, of course] and after another attempt on his life fails he quips: “I’m gonna have to take out more insurance!” 

 

A gold statue holds the key and the affair is wrapped up neatly in time for Suzy (a baffled looking Anna Gael) to explain the mix up to her irate and punching prone husband. 

 

It’s a good enough episode, structured along traditional lines with a smooth blend of humour and excitement but without the over emphasis on fisticuffs which has already begun to mar the series. The moment where Grosky realises he is working for a nutcase and with idiots was a particular stand out; this methodical villain deserved more screen time. 

 

Overall, a thumbs up.

 

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#20 chrisno1

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 10:32 AM

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Episode 10: Angie, Angie
Director: Val Guest
Writer: Milton S. Gelman 

 

As with the previous two episodes, Angie, Angie revolves primarily around Tony Curtis’ character Danny Wilde. During the Cannes Film Festival Danny meets an old acquaintance, Angie, who Judge Fulton suspects of being a ruthless hit man for hire. Meanwhile, at the casino, Brett has foiled an attempt on the life of a union informant. His suspicions are aroused when he realises Angie’s girlfriend was also at the casino that night. 

 

This story benefits from some location shooting and the clever use of flashbacks to emphasise Danny and Angie’s long friendship. The editing hook overplays itself a little when Brett remembers the casino hit, but generally it’s a neat creative contrivance that the series could have done with a little more of.

 

The series could also have coped with more of this type of acting from Tony Curtis, who performs the injured party brilliantly. His defiant rants at Roger Moore’s steadfast Brett bring to mind those great performances he gave in a selection of late fifties movie roles rather than the endless comedies he was cast in during the sixties. Larry Storch is an equally good foil as the killer pal, a confused, fidgety character who seems uncomfortable in suits and fancy nightclubs and would rather be on the streets kicking stones. Swedish model Kirsten Lindholm has a decorative, mute role as the girl. Roger Moore too has his moments of class, trying to uncover the truth and beset at each turn by an angry Curtis or a baffled Laurence Naismith (the Judge). Val Guest, always an assured hand, is on top form as director controlling all these acting egos.

 

Unfortunately the finale is uneven. The villain has the audacity to term the showdown a game of “cowboys and Indians” and he isn’t far wrong. It plays very successfully as a western showdown; there’s death and heartbreak, redemption and sunsets.

 

This chapter is well worth an individual look. It’s always a good sign when writers decide to offer more than surface value to their characters and the background Milton S. Gelman gives to Danny reinforces and resonates with the behaviours we have already come to identify in him. Angie, Angie draws out Danny Wilde’s story in an effective, taut and affecting manner.

 

Very good indeed.

 

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Edited by chrisno1, 29 June 2017 - 11:49 AM.


#21 AMC Hornet

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 04:26 PM

Fine review, but Larry Storch played Angie.



#22 chrisno1

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 11:49 AM

Fine review, but Larry Storch played Angie.

 

My mistake. Proof reading your own work is a nightmare. Dutifully corrected. 



#23 chrisno1

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 11:57 AM

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Episode 11: Chain of Events
Director: Peter Hunt
Writer: Terry Nation 

 

A plane lands in Eastern Europe, its pilot charged with escorting a covert agent, Baxter, and his briefcase full of secrets to the UK. But Baxter is killed and a double agent replaces him, handcuffing the case to his wrist.

 

Meanwhile Danny Wilde is attempting to get back to nature and has persuaded [you see what I did there!] Brett Sinclair to accompany him on a camping expedition. Brett’s idea of back to nature is distinctly upper-class and his enormous tent has all the trappings of home, including chilled champagne and a gas cooker. Danny meanwhile goes in search of freshly caught wild river trout. He actually discovers the body of a dying man who appears to have parachuted fatally through the forest, but is clutching a briefcase. Before he expires, the dying double agent affixes the case and its security chain to Danny’s wrist thus setting in motion a series of actions with high stakes and even higher consequences.

 

As usual most of the opening scenes are full of gentle humour. Roger Moore enjoys himself tremendously enacting the gent out of town and out of his comfort zone while Tony Curtis’ Danny seems to genuinely enjoy slumming it. More interesting however is the excellent direction by Bond devotee Peter Hunt and his snappy violent editing. Taut suspense is injected into the initial forest-bound chase, with Curtis particularly good demonstrating Danny’s vicious streak.

 

In a manner of speaking Curtis is reprising his stand out movie role from 1958’s The Defiant Ones with Sidney Poitier replaced by the cumbersome briefcase. He’s pursued by the British constabulary, the Secret Intelligence Service (represented by George Baker and a fetching Susanna Leigh) and the Russians. Here Peter Vaughn’s Schubert is a low-key master spy with a nasty, emphatic logical mind set; his performance is good and adds necessary dexterity to an action packed story, the only low point perhaps being his unnecessary and rather daft sounding Eastern European accent. It would have made more sense for him to remain English; he is after all operating undercover in Britain.

 

For all that, writer Terry Nation gives Vaughn all the best dialogue, which he delivers in those wonderful solemnness tones; “I’ll be as happy to take the case from a dead man as a live one” makes Danny demonstratively angry, to which the suave Schubert replies: “Anger is a futile and exhausting emotion. If you want to waste energy on an escape attempt, please go ahead.”  You sense Nation, as writer, has brought some of his classic motifs to the proceedings. Things are never quite as they appear, helped by the excellent photography. Freed from the blinding glare of the Riviera sun, Tony Spratling gives us those deep, dark Hammer Horror-looking greens, golds and blacks, often shot in atmospheric day-for-night. It is of cinematic standard.

 

More narrative intrigue and performance fun is provided when Curtis is hobbled in a shower by Emily Major (Miss Leigh) who turns all Emma Peel and begins to dispatch the bad guys with much aplomb. It is no surprise that Roger Moore arrives in the nick of time to help save the day – and his best friend – from a potential exploding bomb. 

 

If the time line stretches credulity too far and the eventual outcome is a trifle damp, I can forgive this because at last The Persuaders has provided fifty minutes of classic adventure.

 

Very good television indeed.

 

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#24 chrisno1

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 09:23 AM

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Episode 12: That’s Me Over There
Director: Leslie Norman
Writer: Brian Clemens

 

Laurence Naismith’s Judge Fulton makes a welcome return for the twelfth episode of The Persuaders. It’s disappointing he’s been ferried over to London because this story would provide a great excuse to photograph some of that ravishing French countryside. Well, nonetheless… a whistle blower has been offering information piece meal to an intrigued Brett Sinclair, information exposing mega-industrialist Thaddeus Krane as a vicious criminal. 

 

Writer Brian Clemens always constructs good action orientated tales and this is no exception: a daring safe crack, a rooftop chase across London, kidnapping, torture, mistaken identity and murder. All the ingredients for a fast paced story are there and the good cast play the game for all it’s worth. Particular praise must go to Geoffrey Keen who is excellent as the shifty Thaddeus Krane, but work-a-day stalwarts such as Alan Cuthbertson, Patrick Newell, Suzan Farmer and Terence Edmond don’t let the standards drop for a second. 

 

Latterly the action moves to an English country mansion and there’s some sparkling fun at an art auction where Tony Curtis’ Danny Wilde impersonates Roger Moore’s Brett Sinclair and vice versa, confusing the villains, the good guys, themselves and Brett’s sometime squeeze Prue (sexy Juliet Harmer). To climax the piece there is a chaotic three car chase through the rather less exotic English landscapes [oh, to be in France!]. For once the story makes sense and is presented in a fashion which matches its players’ strengths as well as the fifty minute format. The story moves speedily from one set piece to the next with hardly a pause for breath. Leslie Norman directs with some authority, proving his consistency after his two previous outings showed vastly differing results. There is an occasional duff note struck (usually via the humour) but this is more a sign of the series’ times, not ours. 

 

Overall this is one of the best episodes yet and I’d congratulate Mr Clemens on crafting a consummate story which finally allows the stars and their support to shine.

 

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#25 Pierceuhhh

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 12:06 PM

No mention of the scene where Curtis and Moore lie comfortably with each other on a couch in The Old The New And The Deadly? Hilarious and fun show - not as bold and surreal (or occasionally frightening) as The Avengers, but pacier, so easier to watch when you're in the mood for some COOL BRITTANIA!

Came for the Moore, stayed for the Curtis - a truly uplifting feelgood character!

#26 chrisno1

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 03:33 PM

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Episode 13: The Long Goodbye
Director: Roger Moore
Writer: Michael Pertwee 

 

Writer Michael Pertwee teams up with director Roger Moore for a second time in the series but the results are not quite as successful as in the earlier The Time and the Place. Opening in Scotland but soon transferring to London, this is a well-dressed, attractive adventure with a stellar cast packed full of talent: Nicola Paget as heroine Carla Wilks; Madeleine Smith and Anouska Hemple as her dual impersonators; Glyn Edwards, Leo Genn and Peter Sallis turn up as villains vying for industrial secrets; and Valerie Leon is sexy sales woman the Space Queen. 

 

At stake is the future of the world’s energy supplies. The Persuaders have taken hold of a secret formula, thought lost in an air crash. This low-cost high-grade fuel could change the whole world, but several businessmen want to use it for devious and destructive purposes. The daughter of the murdered scientist Professor Wilks has a difficult decision resting on her pretty shoulders. 

 

In the turmoil, most of which appears to have been shot around the environs of Brixton and Stockwell [Roger Moore’s home streets], Danny is once again kidnapped and Brett performs a rescue act, utilizing the Space Queen’s visual talents.

 

The plot is as thin as paper, but it is well acted if a trifle hammy, and there’s plenty of fun without any real sense of danger. The fifty minutes passes time solidly and doesn’t stretch anyone’s muscles too far. The writing and production is of standard televisual quality. All this makes for an okay adventure saved by the enthusiasm of a bright cast.

 

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#27 chrisno1

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:07 PM

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Episode 14: The Man in the Middle
Director: Leslie Norman
Writer: Donald Jones 

 

This time the mistaken identity plot involves Brett Sinclair masquerading as a British double agent at the behest of Judge Fulton, who no longer appears to be quite as retired as everyone once thought. Into the standard mix are thrown Suzy Kendall as Kay, a British security agent, and Terry Thomas as Archie, the Sinclair family black-sheep.

 

Nominally set in Rome, but lacking anything more than scenic postcard vistas and a few seconds of Brett’s Aston Martin sidling past the Coliseum, this episode has a genuine espionage grounding. However it is slightly skewed by the overt humour provided by Thomas’ bumbling down-at-heel aristocrat. Sadly his part is so broadly written and his interpretation so unsubtle it overpowers whatever seriousness there ought to be. He’s so prominent they could have retitled this chapter “Archie... Archie.”

 

Much of the action takes place in a posh Italian hotel or in and around the Russian Embassy. Both are very tired looking studio sets and the only moment of true genius is a brief scene where the unflappable Roger Moore is interrogated by Geraldine Moffat’s gorgeous KGB aide. Elsewhere there’s very little tension, not much excitement and a lot of harmless hokum.

 

Not one for the record.

 

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#28 chrisno1

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 12:45 PM

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Episode 15: Element of Risk
Director: Gerald Mayer
Writer: Roy Barwick

 

Mistaken identity again! Danny Wilde is the inadvertent recipient of an engraved suitcase belonging to master criminal Harry Lomax. Lomax’s associates, who have handily never actually met him, assume Danny really is their man, which, once Tony Curtis starts over-acting, becomes more and more unbelievable…

 

The supporting roles are fairly substantial. June Ritchie makes a fetching distraction for Danny and there are returns for Laurence Naismith (I can’t remember why – which should tell you something) and Victor Platt as the mysterious underworld informer The Farmer. For the opposition, Peter Bowles plays Mitchell with debonair callousness and Shane Rimmer does a nice turn as the genuine Lomax; between them they’ve plotted a bullion robbery. The narrative is fairly bright with a nice increase in tension as the band of desperados infiltrates a US Air Force base to hijack a cargo plane packed full of gold. The raid itself is ingenious in a sort of cheap and cheerful television fashion. That it is foiled comes as no surprise. Roger Moore – impersonating a pilot – is there no end to Brett Sinclair’s talents? – speeds to the rescue just in time.

 

Sadly the remainder of the piece barely passes muster. London is featured prominently during a taxi ride to aid our orientation, but the indoor stages are bland and the set for the Trocadero looks nothing like the Trcoadero ever looked. There’s a neat on-going gag featuring twin dates for Brett and Danny, but even that fizzles out to a predictable end.

 

Perhaps the best moment is at the end when, identity revealed, Brett confronts the villainous Mitchell who says, aghast: “Sinclair? Weren’t we at school together? Some snotty nosed kid…” Moore merely smiles; well, he is the star isn’t he?

 

For me the undoubted star is John Barry's theme tune which sends a tiny thrill down one's spine everytime you hear it. A great pity the music isn't utilised to any effect during the actual action [ a copyright issue I assume ] as the incidental soundtracks to most of the episodes are uniformly average. Ken Thorne is the major contributor, a composer of film scores which while never bad were never particulalrly memorable either. The same I'm afraid holds true of the jokey style he employed for The Persuaders.

 

Below is the front and reverse of a 1972 album featuring music by John Barry and entitled : Theme from the Persuaders! good selection of tracks, I think. It's interesting to note he wrote other television themes too. The older I get, the more gaps seem to appear in my knowledge !!!

 

 

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#29 Dustin

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 05:44 PM

Very fond memories...

Thank you for these fine reviews, chrisno!

#30 Major Tallon

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 08:00 PM

I'll second that!






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