David Niven is Dr Jason Love, an English country doctor whose passion for vintage cars gets him dragooned into helping the security services (as represented by a dry John Le Mesurier) into doing some spy work for them abroad – in Beirut, Lebanon to be exact, a 60s playground then. He is meant to be helping out local agent Nigel Davenport, but when Nigel ends up dead Dr Love realises he is out of his depth as goons with guns chase him all over the place.
One of our favourites, Francoise Dorleac is the very 60s model on a fashion shoot at the airport who turns out to be his local contact, but is she a double agent? A plane exploding after take-off is nicely suggested as the bodies and thrills pile up. Director Val Guest keeps it briskly moving and of course it turns out the Russians are behind it all. The climax is good as a Russian plane has to be tricked into making an emergency landing. Dorleac is lovely as ever and Niven is ideal here before he got too old for this kind of thing. It was meant to be the first of a series, from novels by James Leasor, but there were no more…. Jazzman Jimmy Smith did a recording of the theme tune, which teenage me bought at the time. I’ve still got it!
Next: It was 50 years ago: 1966!