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TOM COURTENAY TURNS ANTAGONIST FOR 'A DANDY IN ASPIC'

Tom Courtenay gels 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 as he... 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 the main motivation involves Laurence Harvey's Eberlin with the real name of Krasnevin: not only a Russian spy but THE Russian that everyone — during the last half of an uneven yet unique espionage thriller — wants to seek out and destroy: Especially scene-stealing Courtenay, playing it so vile, vicious and unlikable that his strict Prisoner-of-War rat from KING RAT is OTLEY (a charming rogue) by comparison. Meanwhile the best scenes don't involve Harvey at all... especially his banal romance with an annoying Farrow, whose dated hippie threads 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 deserving company. 

Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC with Laurence Harvey
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC with Laurence Harvey
Harry Andrews and Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC with Laurence Harvey
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC with Laurence Harvey
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC with cameo comic relief Peter Cook
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC 
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC with Laurence Harvey
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC with Calvin Lockhart
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC with Laurence Harvey
Tom Courtenay in A DANDY IN ASPIC

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