Billion Dollar Brain

Film

Thrillers

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

One of Russell's most enjoyable movies, completely free of the pretentious bombast that has become his trademark, so that its meaning is embodied in the narrative rather than imposed on it with a directorial sledgehammer. This was the third and last of Caine's appearances as Len Deighton's Harry Palmer, dominated by Russell's skill and visual flair. The plot is a particularly good one about a fascist Texan general called Midwinter (Begley) who plans the invasion of Russia with the aid of a computer and his own private army (the computer has a screen personality almost as distinctive and pleasing as Hal's in 2001). In an excellent supporting cast, Homolka is outstanding as the Russian general who collaborates with Palmer to prevent the war, and Russell ingeniously constructs the invasion as a parody of the famous ice-breaking sequence in Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky.
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Release details

UK release:

1967

Duration:

111 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Ken Russell

Cast:

Guy Doleman, Ed Begley, Oscar Homolka, Françoise Dorléac, Karl Malden, Michael Caine, Milo Sperber

Music:

Richard Rodney Bennett

Production Designer:

Syd Cain

Editor:

Alan Osbiston

Cinematography:

Billy Williams

Screenwriter:

John McGrath

Producer:

Harry Saltzman

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Nick Pontt

Guys, I love Michael Caine too. But this is an unmitigated turkey; meandering, poorly shot, amateur offal that serves only as a record of the collective madness of the writer, director and producer. How anyone could possibly rate this steaming dump as anything other than steaming dump is beyond reckoning. One of the worst films in history. A film for idiots, by idiots. I am mortified that TimeOut requires me to over praise it with a cursory star in order to post this review.

godfrey hamilton

No, john, much as you felt moved to make your point three times, the tankers were not "Dinky" toys at all, and apart from one brief shot of a miniature (certainly a lot larger than the beloved Dinky Toys of our childhood), the tankers were made to real size and involved the stunt team in some rather hazardous studio tank work. And it's a smashing, film, a totally surreal take on the 1960s' spy cycle, featuring some breathtaking camera work, sumptuous set design and some typically Ken-esque visual flourishes. The only thing I would disagree with is the TO review (by "DP" - David Pirie?); although written literally decades ago, the critical contempt for Russell -"pretentious" being the favoured epithet - continues to this day. KR was a genius who possessed a completely personal and unique vision, and remained loyal to that vision throughout his life. Given that "pretension" actually means to aspire and fall short of the intention, I have loudly to declare that I'm all for a good bit of pretension. In fact we could all do with a lot more of it.

godfrey hamilton

No, john, much as you felt moved to make your point three times, the tankers were not "Dinky" toys at all, and apart from one brief shot of a miniature (certainly a lot larger than the beloved Dinky Toys of our childhood), the tankers were made to real size and involved the stunt team in some rather hazardous studio tank work. And it's a smashing, film, a totally surreal take on the 1960s' spy cycle, featuring some breathtaking camera work, sumptuous set design and some typically Ken-esque visual flourishes. The only thing I would disagree with is the TO review (by "DP" - David Pirie?); although written literally decades ago, the critical contempt for Russell -"pretentious" being the favoured epithet - continues to this day. KR was a genius who possessed a completely personal and unique vision, and remained loyal to that vision throughout his life. Given that "pretension" actually means to aspire and fall short of the intention, I have loudly to declare that I'm all for a good bit of pretension. In fact we could all do with a lot more of it.