Agent 8 3/4


1h 38m 1965

Brief Synopsis

British Intelligence dupes an unemployed writer into thinking he's an industrial spy.

Film Details

Also Known As
Hot Enough for June, agent zero zero eight and three quarters
Genre
Comedy
Thriller
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Oct 1965
Production Company
Rank Organisation
Distribution Company
Continental Distributing, Inc.
Country
United Kingdom
Location
Padua, Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Night of Wenceslas by Lionel Davidson (London, 1960).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

Young Nicholas Whistler, an out-of-work British writer, is hired as a junior executive to glass manufacturer Colonel Cunliffe. Nicholas accepts the position because the pay is high, but what he does not know is that Cunliffe is actually head of British Intelligence and he will be used as a secret agent. Nicholas, who speaks Czech, is told to go to Prague and pick up from a contact at the State glassworks some vital information. He understands that the mission must be done under cover because open trade with Iron Curtain countries is still impossible. Nicholas' password with his Prague contact is "hot enough for June." He is met at the airport by Vlasta Simenova, his chauffeur, who is actually a counterspy working for her father, head of Czech Intelligence. Nicholas and Vlasta have fallen in love by the time he has acquired the paper from his contact, who informs Nicholas that they are both spies. After eluding the Prague police, Nicholas finds refuge in the British Embassy, and he gains passage back to London when embassy officials exchange him for a British-held spy. He is delighted when he is joined on the return trip by Vlasta, who is being sent to London on a "trade" mission.

Film Details

Also Known As
Hot Enough for June, agent zero zero eight and three quarters
Genre
Comedy
Thriller
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Oct 1965
Production Company
Rank Organisation
Distribution Company
Continental Distributing, Inc.
Country
United Kingdom
Location
Padua, Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Night of Wenceslas by Lionel Davidson (London, 1960).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Articles

Hot Enough for June aka Agent 8 3/4


Not all of the spy thrillers that followed in the wake of the James Bond craze (that began in 1962 with Dr. No) were pale imitations or grade B action-adventure fare. There were exceptions in this burgeoning genre and one of the best was Agent 8 ¾ (1964, aka Hot Enough for June). Instead of relying on high tech gadgetry, special effects and slam bang action sequences, this British import took a droll, tongue-in-cheek approach to the spy genre and had fun parodying the politics of the Cold War era in its tale of an aspiring novelist being used by British Intelligence as a pawn in their spy games with Communist foes in Prague.

The fast-paced satire begins when unemployed writer Nicholas Whistler (Dirk Bogarde) is forced to take the government job he is offered in order to keep his benefits. Colonel Cunliffe (Robert Morley), his new employer, deliberately keeps Whistler in the dark about the nature of his new work as a translator (he speaks fluent Czech) for an international glass company. Sent on assignment to Prague, he quickly learns he is being used as a courier and that his Czech guide book contains top secret information for his anonymous contact behind the Iron Curtain. Once he realizes he is being used as a dispensable dupe by Colonel Cunliffe, he takes matters into his own hands and tries to make his way to the safety of the British Embassy before Simoneva (Leo McKern), head of Czech Intelligence, can capture him. Complications arise when Whistler falls in love with his alluring chauffeur Vlasta (Sylva Koscina), who turns out to be a secret agent and the daughter of Simoneva.

Agent 8 ¾ was a joint collaboration between producer Betty Box and director Ralph Thomas; together they had worked with Dirk Bogarde as their star numerous times before on such films as Doctor at Large (1957), Campbell's Kingdom (1957) and A Tale of Two Cities (1958). After the excellent critical notices he had received for Victim (1961) and The Servant (1963), Bogarde was becoming more particular about his film roles and he didn't want to do Agent 8 ¾. He initially passed on the part and Tom Courtenay agreed to play the lead but then financial obligations made Bogarde change his mind. After the first draft of the screenplay by Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler was rejected by the producers, a new screenplay by Lukas Heller (based on the novel by Lionel Davidson) was approved and production began with Bogarde reporting for work at Pinewood Studios where most of the interiors were shot. The cast and crew also traveled to Padua, Italy for some location shooting - a stand-in for Prague - since the filmmakers were not allowed to shoot in communist-controlled Czechoslovakia.

British critics were not very receptive to Agent 8 ¾ and felt it didn't work as a comedy or an espionage thriller. One writer, commenting on Bogarde's performance, wrote "He is the sort of secret agent who looks as menacing as a pop gun and probably isn't even licensed to kill grouse." Part of the disappointed expectations could be blamed on the film's promotion which boasted the tag lines, "She's an Eye Catcher...He's a Spy Catcher in the Comedy of the Year!" and "He's a Special Kind of Spy...he doesn't know enough to come in from the cold" (an in-joke reference to John le Carre's much more somber espionage tale, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, 1965). Yet Agent 8 ¾ was not a broad comedy at all but a subtle, witty look at East-West relations in the context of a secret agent satire. The cast is first rate with Robert Morley and Leo McKern in superb form and the romance between Bogarde and the sexy and delightful Sylva Koscina draws favorable comparisons to the similar themed Ninotchka (1939) with its capitalist/communist love match in the form of Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas.

In the U.S. where Too Hot for June (a reference to a secret code phrase in the film) was released under the title, Agent 8 ¾, the critics were more complimentary with Variety calling it an "amiable enough spoof of espionage," adding that, "Most of the humor comes from witty prods at the expense of the Foreign Office and the Iron Curtain Party system." Still, the film was no box office smash but it stands out as an intelligent entertainment compared to some of the silly spy parodies that followed and it looks even better now.

Producer: Betty E. Box
Director: Ralph Thomas
Screenplay: Lukas Heller (screenplay); Lionel Davidson (novel)
Cinematography: Ernest Steward
Art Direction: Syd Cain
Music: Angelo Lavagnino
Film Editing: Alfred Roome
Cast: Dirk Bogarde (Nicholas Whistler), Sylva Koscina (Vlasta Simoneva), Robert Morley (Colonel Cunliffe), Leo McKern (Simoneva), Roger Delgado (Josef), Derek Fowlds (Sun Bathing Man), Amanda Grinling (Cunliffe's secretary), Noel Harrison (Johnnie), Philo Hauser (Vlcek).
C-98m.

by Jeff Stafford

SOURCES: Dirk Bogarde: The Authorized Biography by John Coldstream (Phoenix)
IMDB
Hot Enough For June Aka Agent 8 3/4

Hot Enough for June aka Agent 8 3/4

Not all of the spy thrillers that followed in the wake of the James Bond craze (that began in 1962 with Dr. No) were pale imitations or grade B action-adventure fare. There were exceptions in this burgeoning genre and one of the best was Agent 8 ¾ (1964, aka Hot Enough for June). Instead of relying on high tech gadgetry, special effects and slam bang action sequences, this British import took a droll, tongue-in-cheek approach to the spy genre and had fun parodying the politics of the Cold War era in its tale of an aspiring novelist being used by British Intelligence as a pawn in their spy games with Communist foes in Prague. The fast-paced satire begins when unemployed writer Nicholas Whistler (Dirk Bogarde) is forced to take the government job he is offered in order to keep his benefits. Colonel Cunliffe (Robert Morley), his new employer, deliberately keeps Whistler in the dark about the nature of his new work as a translator (he speaks fluent Czech) for an international glass company. Sent on assignment to Prague, he quickly learns he is being used as a courier and that his Czech guide book contains top secret information for his anonymous contact behind the Iron Curtain. Once he realizes he is being used as a dispensable dupe by Colonel Cunliffe, he takes matters into his own hands and tries to make his way to the safety of the British Embassy before Simoneva (Leo McKern), head of Czech Intelligence, can capture him. Complications arise when Whistler falls in love with his alluring chauffeur Vlasta (Sylva Koscina), who turns out to be a secret agent and the daughter of Simoneva. Agent 8 ¾ was a joint collaboration between producer Betty Box and director Ralph Thomas; together they had worked with Dirk Bogarde as their star numerous times before on such films as Doctor at Large (1957), Campbell's Kingdom (1957) and A Tale of Two Cities (1958). After the excellent critical notices he had received for Victim (1961) and The Servant (1963), Bogarde was becoming more particular about his film roles and he didn't want to do Agent 8 ¾. He initially passed on the part and Tom Courtenay agreed to play the lead but then financial obligations made Bogarde change his mind. After the first draft of the screenplay by Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler was rejected by the producers, a new screenplay by Lukas Heller (based on the novel by Lionel Davidson) was approved and production began with Bogarde reporting for work at Pinewood Studios where most of the interiors were shot. The cast and crew also traveled to Padua, Italy for some location shooting - a stand-in for Prague - since the filmmakers were not allowed to shoot in communist-controlled Czechoslovakia. British critics were not very receptive to Agent 8 ¾ and felt it didn't work as a comedy or an espionage thriller. One writer, commenting on Bogarde's performance, wrote "He is the sort of secret agent who looks as menacing as a pop gun and probably isn't even licensed to kill grouse." Part of the disappointed expectations could be blamed on the film's promotion which boasted the tag lines, "She's an Eye Catcher...He's a Spy Catcher in the Comedy of the Year!" and "He's a Special Kind of Spy...he doesn't know enough to come in from the cold" (an in-joke reference to John le Carre's much more somber espionage tale, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, 1965). Yet Agent 8 ¾ was not a broad comedy at all but a subtle, witty look at East-West relations in the context of a secret agent satire. The cast is first rate with Robert Morley and Leo McKern in superb form and the romance between Bogarde and the sexy and delightful Sylva Koscina draws favorable comparisons to the similar themed Ninotchka (1939) with its capitalist/communist love match in the form of Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas. In the U.S. where Too Hot for June (a reference to a secret code phrase in the film) was released under the title, Agent 8 ¾, the critics were more complimentary with Variety calling it an "amiable enough spoof of espionage," adding that, "Most of the humor comes from witty prods at the expense of the Foreign Office and the Iron Curtain Party system." Still, the film was no box office smash but it stands out as an intelligent entertainment compared to some of the silly spy parodies that followed and it looks even better now. Producer: Betty E. Box Director: Ralph Thomas Screenplay: Lukas Heller (screenplay); Lionel Davidson (novel) Cinematography: Ernest Steward Art Direction: Syd Cain Music: Angelo Lavagnino Film Editing: Alfred Roome Cast: Dirk Bogarde (Nicholas Whistler), Sylva Koscina (Vlasta Simoneva), Robert Morley (Colonel Cunliffe), Leo McKern (Simoneva), Roger Delgado (Josef), Derek Fowlds (Sun Bathing Man), Amanda Grinling (Cunliffe's secretary), Noel Harrison (Johnnie), Philo Hauser (Vlcek). C-98m. by Jeff Stafford SOURCES: Dirk Bogarde: The Authorized Biography by John Coldstream (Phoenix) IMDB

TCM Remembers - Leo McKern


TCM REMEMBERS LEO MCKERN, 1920-2002

The recent death of Leo McKern, 82, marked the passing of one of Britain's finest and most respected character actors. He was suffering from ill health in recent years and was moved to a nursing home a few weeks before his death on July 23 2002 in Bath, England. An actor of commanding presence with a deep-throated voice, the portly, bulbous-nosed McKern had a long, distinguished career spanning more than half a century, earning numerous plaudits along the way in all major mediums: theatre, film and television.

Born Reginald McKern on March 16, 1920 in Sydney, Australia; he served with the Australian Army during World War II and worked in regional theatre in his native Sydney before immigrating to England in 1946. It was a slow start, but after a three-year apprenticeship of painting scenery, stage-managing and acting, McKern eventually joined the celebrated Old Vic theatrical company in 1949 and proved one of the more versatile actors in the troupe tackling diverse roles in comedy, the classics and serious contemporary parts.

His film debut came in Murder in the Cathedral (1952) but it took a few years before he made his mark in cinema. Some of his best film work included roles as Peter Sellers' comic henchman in the classic satire The Mouse That Roared (1959); a bungling train robber in the charming Disney film The Horse Without a Head (1963); a nefarious professor who kills off his colleagues for amusement in the brilliant black comedy A Jolly Bad Fellow (1964); Clang, a cartoonish villain in the Beatles' pop film Help! (1965); Cromwell, the persecutor of Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (1966) and as Thomas Ryan in the David Lean drama, Ryan's Daughter (1970).

Yet despite all the accolades McKern earned in theatre and films, it was television where he foundinternational fame as the wily, irascible barrister Horace P. Rumpole in John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey in 1975. Infusing the character with beguiling skill and energy, McKern made the acerbic, wine swilling, Tennyson-quoting Rumpole a much loved figure that was adored by critics, audiences and even its creator Mortimer. Perhaps Mortimer offered the most fitting tribute when he once referred to McKern - "His acting exists where I always hope my writing will be: about two feet above the ground, a little larger than life, but always taking off from reality." Enough said.

By Michael T. Toole KATY JURADO, 1924 - 2002

Katy Jurado, an Oscar nominee and major actress in Westerns, died July 5th at the age of 78. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico on January 16th 1924 as Maria Cristina Estella Marcela Jurado Garcia, daughter of a cattle rancher and an opera singer. Jurado started to appear in Mexican films in 1943. After 15 films in her native country, director Budd Boetticher saw Jurado attending a bullfight (Jurado wrote about the subject for Mexican newspapers) and cast her in his Bullfighter and the Lady (1952), her Hollywood debut. For much of her career Jurado alternated between the two film industries. In the US, she was memorable for the sensual energy she brought to roles in High Noon (1952), One-Eyed Jacks (1961) which was directed by Marlon Brando, Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and John Huston's Under the Volcano (1984). She was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for Broken Lance (1954). Jurado's Mexican films were in a broader range of genres and included Luis Bunuel's El Bruto (1952), Ismael Rodriguez's We the Poor and Miguel Littin's The Widow Montiel (1979). She won three Ariel Awards (Mexican equivalent to the Oscars) and one special award. She was married to Ernest Borgnine from the end of 1959 to summer 1963. One of her final films was The Hi-Lo Country (1998), a contemporary Western directed by Stephen Frears and co-starring Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup and Penelope Cruz.

by Lang Thompson

DOLORES GRAY, 1924 - 2002

Broadway and nightclub star Dolores Gray died June 26th at the age of 78. Her movie career was brief but consisted of high-profile MGM musicals which guaranteed her a place in film history. Gray was born in Chicago on June 7th, 1924 (and where, according to a common story, she was accidentally shot by a gangster as a child and had a bullet in her lung her entire life). As a teenager she began singing in California until Rudy Vallee featured her on his radio show. Gray moved to Broadway in 1944 and then to the London stage in 1947, solidifying her reputation as a singer/actress while constantly giving the gossip columnists plenty to write about. She had two small singing roles in Lady for a Night (1941) and Mr. Skeffington (1944) but didn't really light up the big screen until It's Always Fair Weather (1955) even though Gray reportedly didn't much care for the role. Her rendition of "Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks," which has her gunning down a slew of male dancers on-stage and kicking them through trap doors, is a genuine showstopper. Three more unforgettable musical roles quickly followed: Kismet (1955), The Opposite Sex (1956, which Gray turned down Funny Face to do) and Designing Women (1957). That was it for Gray's film career. She kept busy with TV appearances (mostly singing though she did one 1988 episode of the cult show Dr. Who) and a busy recording and nightclub schedule. In 1987, she appeared in a British production of Follies at Stephen Sondheim's request.

by Lang Thompson

TCM Remembers - Leo McKern

TCM REMEMBERS LEO MCKERN, 1920-2002 The recent death of Leo McKern, 82, marked the passing of one of Britain's finest and most respected character actors. He was suffering from ill health in recent years and was moved to a nursing home a few weeks before his death on July 23 2002 in Bath, England. An actor of commanding presence with a deep-throated voice, the portly, bulbous-nosed McKern had a long, distinguished career spanning more than half a century, earning numerous plaudits along the way in all major mediums: theatre, film and television. Born Reginald McKern on March 16, 1920 in Sydney, Australia; he served with the Australian Army during World War II and worked in regional theatre in his native Sydney before immigrating to England in 1946. It was a slow start, but after a three-year apprenticeship of painting scenery, stage-managing and acting, McKern eventually joined the celebrated Old Vic theatrical company in 1949 and proved one of the more versatile actors in the troupe tackling diverse roles in comedy, the classics and serious contemporary parts. His film debut came in Murder in the Cathedral (1952) but it took a few years before he made his mark in cinema. Some of his best film work included roles as Peter Sellers' comic henchman in the classic satire The Mouse That Roared (1959); a bungling train robber in the charming Disney film The Horse Without a Head (1963); a nefarious professor who kills off his colleagues for amusement in the brilliant black comedy A Jolly Bad Fellow (1964); Clang, a cartoonish villain in the Beatles' pop film Help! (1965); Cromwell, the persecutor of Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (1966) and as Thomas Ryan in the David Lean drama, Ryan's Daughter (1970). Yet despite all the accolades McKern earned in theatre and films, it was television where he foundinternational fame as the wily, irascible barrister Horace P. Rumpole in John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey in 1975. Infusing the character with beguiling skill and energy, McKern made the acerbic, wine swilling, Tennyson-quoting Rumpole a much loved figure that was adored by critics, audiences and even its creator Mortimer. Perhaps Mortimer offered the most fitting tribute when he once referred to McKern - "His acting exists where I always hope my writing will be: about two feet above the ground, a little larger than life, but always taking off from reality." Enough said. By Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Prague location scenes filmed in Padua. Released in Great Britain in 1964 as Hot Enough for June. Also reviewed as Agent 008 3/4.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 13, 1965

Released in United States Fall October 13, 1965