Plot takes too long to get moving, and when it does it is quite incredible and hard to follow. Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) is instructed by an electronic voice over the phone to take a package containing mysterious eggs to Finland, and meets up with a former American CIA man, Ed Newbigin (Karl Malden), whose life he has saved in the past.
Palmer, whose mission is known to his previous MI5 employers, pretends to join the organization, which turns out to be controlled by a crazy American General (Ed Begley) with a Senator McCarthy attitude re Commies and a determination to defeat them by fomenting revolution in satellite countries and attacking with his own private army.
It doesn’t matter so much that the storyline offends belief – so do the Bond gambols – but it is deployed by director Ken Russell with such abrupt speed that it doesn’t make immediate sense in its own frivolous terms.
Malden and Begley, always reliable, do what they can with roles conceived as stereotypes of greed and fanaticism respectively, and Francoise Dorleac introduces a touch of glamor as an agent who might be working for anybody.