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A spy thriller spoof made when James Bond was the rage among Cold War heroes, Where the Spies Are (1966) casts David Niven as Dr. Love, a mild-mannered, middle-aged British country doctor who is persuaded to become a secret agent. The good doctor is obviously referring to 007 when he protests, "I hope you realize I'm not a super-spy or an agent in black." Ironically, Niven would play Bond himself the following year in Casino Royale (1967), another spy spoof from the same director (Val Guest).
Dr. Love, a fancier of vintage automobiles, is talked into a dangerous assignment with the promise of a 1937 Chrysler LeBaron to replace his 1937 Cord Phaeton. Sent to Lebanon to investigate the murder of a colleague (Nigel Davenport), he encounters a beautiful double agent (Francoise Dorleac) who helps him uncover a plot by Russian agents to assassinate a pro-British Middle Eastern prince.
The Cord Phaeton driven by Niven had to be restored from a collection of rusty parts in just a matter of months to meet the start of filming. According to the Internet Movie Database, the mechanic who restored the car claimed that Niven could not master its "idiosyncratic gearbox" and drove it in a low gear that resulted in overheating. A scene showing the steaming auto was hastily rewritten to work around the problem.
The radiant and talented Dorleac was the older sister of Catherine Deneuve and a rising star whose fame helped her younger sibling attract notice when they costarred together in three films including the very popular The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967). The year of that film's release, Dorleac was killed at age 25 when her sports car crashed and burned in Nice, France.
Producer: Steven Pallos, Val Guest, F. Sherwin Green (associate)
Director: Val Guest
Screenplay: Wolf Mankowitz, Val Guest, James Leasor, from Leasor's novel Passport to Oblivion
Cinematography: Arthur Grant
Art Direction: John Howell
Original Music: Mario Nascimbene
Editing: Bill Lenny
Cast: David Niven (Dr. Jason Love), Francoise Dorleac (Vikki), John Le Mesurier (MacGillivray), Cyril Cusack (Rosser), Eric Pohlmann (Farouk).
by Roger Fristoe