Harold Pelham is a steady executive type who drives carefully, wears the same tie everyday and is a thoroughly dependable sort of chap. One day he is driving home when he has a car crash, he is rushed to hospital where his heart stops and he is saved by a medical team. Back at work after recovering he begins to suffer from memory losses – people tell him he played snooker last night but he can’t remember etc. He begins to suspect that someone is impersonating him and is starting to live his life – but that’s crazy, isn’t it?
Moore of the period will always be remembered for being Bond more than any other role he played. The downside of this is that he is seen as the weaker Bond the one who become more about innuendo and jokes than anything else. This film though, shows that Moore is a great actor – one who is capable of lifting a film and making it better than it was on paper. The plot here could easily have spun wildly out of control and indeed, at times, it comes very close to being unintentionally funny. However the film keeps it’s air of mystery well – even when we are sure that there is a doppelganger on the loose the film still won’t let us see more than his back or his hand etc. By doing this it actually makes the scene where the two meet to be quite effective. Of course it’s all nonsense but it’s well played nonsense.
The main reason it works is Moore’s increasingly unhinged performance – as the final hour goes by you can actually see him come apart like he was an old woollen sweater! It is difficult not to buy into the film because he is so convincing. His alter ego is also pretty good but it is the descent into desperation that he undergoes that makes this watchable. As a result I didn’t really notice the input of the support cast – they were all quite solid but it was easily Moore’s film. However, being a man, I did get distracted by Georges-Picot – waltzing around in sexy underwear in several scenes and I also thought Jones’ psychiatrist looked like Dr Strangelove!
Overall this deserves to have a cult following if it doesn’t already, The visual effects are poor and the plot is absurd. Were it not for the brilliant Moore then this film would have been better played for laughs. Happily he carries it and holds the audience in his hand. The only weak point was the ending which, although clever, was a bit of an anticlimax – in fact the final 10 minutes didn’t quite match the suspense that had been created in the build up.