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LAURENCE HARVEY VS TOM COURTENAY FOR 'A DANDY IN ASPIC'

Title: A DANDY IN ASPIC Year: 1968 Rates: ***1/2

"I do believe that you two would have got on well together," Tom Courtenay as a stuffy, cautious and paranoid, cold-blooded British agent named Gaitiss tells Mia Farrow's flaky model Caroline after she beds Laurence Harvey, a far more sympathetic agent that we think is named Alexander Eberlin. "You haven't got a past, and he hasn't got a future."

Sadly, either did veteran director Anthony Mann, who started with Film Noir using creative camera angles before turning to traditional Westerns, making A DANDY IN ASPIC a kind of halfway visual comeback...

Mia Farrow and Laurence Harvey in A DANDY IN ASPIC

Supposedly, Mann... before dying on set... is behind everything during the first forty-minutes in England — following the assassination of a top spy— before moving to Germany where Laurence took over direction, sustaining that era's zoom shots and surreal perspectives...

But mainly, Laurence Harvey's Eberlin has the real name  of Krasnevin: not only is he a Russian spy but is THE Russian that everyone — during the last half of an uneven yet unique espionage thriller — wants to seek out and destroy...

Tom Courtenay and Laurence Harvey in A DANDY IN ASPIC

Especially Courtenay, playing it so unlikable he makes his DR ZHIVAGO communist seem charming and affable. Meanwhile, the best scenes don't involve Harvey at all... especially his banal romance with an annoying Farrow, whose dated hippie garb clash against the more timeless grey/gritty Cold War aesthetic...

It's the two suspenseful meetings between Courtenay (while sticking to Harvey like glue) and Russian Lionel Stander that really stand out: Reminding both the audience and the secretly hunted anti-hero of an impending fate which, in this case, might have some deserving company.

Laurence Harvey in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Barbara Murray and Laurence Harvey in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Mia Farrow and Laurence Harvey in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Laurence Harvey in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Peter Cook in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Tom Courtenay and Laurence Harvey in A DANDY IN ASPIC with Lionel Stander

Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC 
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC with Laurence Harvey
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Per Oscarsson and Laurence Harvey in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Mia Farrow and Laurence Harvey in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Blu Ray for A DANDY IN ASPIC

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