Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
"Quiller" Hardly a Killer-Diller
Cleveland Press February 2, 1967
"The Quiller Memorandum" is an old-fashioned espionage movie without gimmicks, secret weapons, super organizations about to take over the world or any of the paraphernalia of the James Bond-inspired motion pictures.
This is not to say, however, that it is a good old-fashioned espionage film. It isn't; it is only fair.
As it leans over backwards to avoid being sensational it too often tumbles into the pit of dullness.
George Segal, obviously American, is secret-agent Quiller of British Intelligence in Berlin. He has been assigned to uncover a neo-Nazi organization that threatens to take over Germany.
HE GOES HIS STUBBORN, LONELY WAY; refuses a bodyguard that has been assigned to him; gets himself drugged, slugged and almost murdered; always manages to walk away from his captors.
Along the way he meets the inevitable beautiful girl (Senta Berger), who is about as friendly as girls are in spy movies these days, which is very friendly indeed.
ALEC GUINNESS is the British Intelligence leader in Berlin, a bloodless, cool, witty type. George Sanders and Robert Flemyng appear in a couple of brief London sequences as highly placed officials who speak casually of agents dying and of difficulties in Berlin. The attempt is too studied to be successful.
Harold Pinter, a playwright of great repute, has adapted the Adam Hall best-seller for the screen. The dialog is sparse and economical.
SEEING PINTER'S NAME in the credits, one is tempted to find hidden meaning in his low key dialog. Now and then there certainly is something meaningful or sinister in the very ordinary sounding speech. More often it is simply ordinary sounding speech.
The movie boasts one good suspense sequence as Nazi agents, without attempting to hide, follow Segal closely as time begins to run out on him.
Segal's characterization is something of a puzzle. It is not consistent, is full of mannerisms and is seldom believable. His method-acting spy gives the impression of fuzzy thinking, results in the conclusion that his success is due more to dumb luck than skill.