Another British spy spoof made on the back of the success of the first two James Bond films Dr No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963) was the Rank Organisations Hot Enough for June released in 1964 and produced by Betty E Box and directed by Ralph Thomas. The film starred Dirk Bogarde who reverted back to his matinee idol image so loved by Rank.
As well as Bogarde this comedy thriller starred Robert Morley and in her English film debut Yugoslavian actress Sylva Koscina who went on to play Danica in the Yugoslavian partisan film Battle of Neretva (1969) and incidentally was considered for the role of Tatiana Romanova in From Russia with Love.
Based on the 1960 novel The Night of Wenceslas by Lionel Davidson, Bogarde plays the unemployed writer Nicolas Whistler who when he turns up at the Labour exchange is sent for an interview as a trainee executive at a glass company. Prior to this we witness Roger Allsop (John Le Mesurier) handing in the belongings of a deceased agent code name 007 and at a meeting with his superior Colonel Cunliffe (Morley) he discusses the need to send someone behind the Iron Curtain to collect some “secret” information. There’s a knock on the door and in walks Nicolas Whistler ready for his interview for the executive job he knows he is not at all suitable for! When Cunliffe finds out that his interviewee can speak Czech he offers him £40 per week plus expenses if he will go to Prague and collect some data. The naïve Whistler believes he is collecting information for a new type of safety glass. Still unaware of his real purpose even when he discovers that his driver and guide is the beautiful uniformed Communist Vlasta (Koscina). But his suspicions grow when he suddenly realises that his life could be in danger?
Another of these British movies made at Pinewood, where if your of a certain age will recognise some very familiar character actors including Leo McKern as the Communist intelligence officer, with John Standing, Derek Nimmo and John Junkin in smaller roles. Not well received by the reviewers at the time of release including the Daily Worker’s critic who wrote an open letter to Betty Box accusing her of stirring up the ‘Cold War’! A return to a somewhat witty and bright role for Bogarde after winning a BAFTA for Best Actor in The Servant (1963) as the sinister Hugo Barrett, and although a little lightweight, an enjoyable movie all the same. The film was cut by twenty minutes and retitled Agent 8¾ for the US release.