“Deadlier Than Male” of 1967 is a stylish and highly amusing spy/adventure flick that was clearly inspired by the popularity of the 60s James Bond films. None other than Quentin Tarantino is reported to love this film, and if that rumor is true, I can see why. My personal main-reason to watch the film was the ravishing Elke Sommer, of whom I’ve been a fan ever since I saw her in Mario Bava’s brilliant Gothic flicks “Lisa And The Devil” and “Baron Blood”. And while Elke Sommer, and fellow eye-candy Silvia Koschina (“Lisa And The Devil”, “La Mala Ordina”,…) as well as the rest of the sexy female cast are not the only reason to see this film, they are definitely the most convincing one. Bikini-clad babes, Bondish villains and a great, macabre sense of humor – this is what “Deadlier Tan Male” is all about. A promising premise, in my opinion.
While this film is clearly a Bond-knockoff it re-invented a detective character of earlier decades. The character of Hugh ‘Bulldog’ Drummond was popularized in the 20s and 30s and a kind of English pendant to the private eyes in American hard-boiled detective novels and films. I have not seen any of the old Bulldog Drummond films so far, but I sure am going to. The Bulldog Drummond in this film is a very James Bond-ish rich playboy and spy. He is played by Richard Johnson, who was once intended to play the role of Bond in “Dr. No”. After several people are killed by sexy female assassins, and by rather unusual methods, Drummond investigates in order to find the one who pulls the strings behind these murders. The film’s most ravishing quality are Elke Sommer and Sylva Koschina, who play the constantly quarreling duo of sexy female assassins Irma (Sommer) and Penelope (Koschina). The cast furthermore includes Nigel Green (“The Masque Of The Red Death”, “The Face Of Fu Manchu”,…), and Milton Reid (“Dr Phibes Rises Again”). The relationship between Bulldog Drummond and his slightly annoying nephew is only remotely funny, but the constant dark humor, especially when people are being assassinated, is hilarious. Overall “Deadlier Than Male” is no must-see, but definitely a highly amusing flick that cult-cinema fans should enjoy.