Pod 9 From Outer Space: Secret Agent Fireball

Nick: It’s another episode of Pod 9 From Outer Space

Liz: Cue the music!

*opening music*

L: So you chose today didn’t you?

N: I did

L: So what did we watch?

N: Well, we were going to watch James Tont, which we ended up feeling wasn’t appropriate because it was more of a spy spoof

L: And it was also just bad-bad not good-bad

N: Yeah. The thing was, um, ’cause we exclude anything that’s supposed to be bad, as opposed to the phoned-in or accidental trainwreck. So instead I went for a different eurospy film, which was called…Secret…Agent…Fireball…

L: What I like about the title is that the actual – so this was a French/Italian co-production, and the French and Italian titles are basically just kind of “Our Man in Belgium” that kind of just fairly standard spy film title. Apparently that wasn’t good enough for the US release…

N: No…they want more balls

L: They did though! Because the reason that they changed the name to something…ball-y was because its release was at a similar time to the James Bond film “Thunderball“, so they were trying to like cash in on that

N: Oh, you mean British James Tont?

L: (laughing) I do

N: That is…that is beautiful, absolutely beautiful. So, what you end up with is this frankly very poor knock-off of, of James Bond with just a tenth of the budget, so you get mostly, um, you got, you got a bit of helicopter action

L: I think they had all the beats

N: Yeah

L: There was, what, there was the secret rendezvous

N: There was

L: There was here’s your gadgets

N: Mm

L: There was a car chase, there was sexual harassment

N: So much sexual harassment in the workplace

L: All the beats

N: Yeah

L: So, the, the guy who played the star, whose surname was Fleming which I actually quite liked

N: Yes

L: The main character was Richard Harrison, not to be confused with Richard Harris

N: No

L: A man who turned down “Fistful of Dollars“. He was in the first spaghetti western that Morriccone scored, but I guess that he didn’t want to do that, and said “hey you should hire this guy, Eastwood”

N: Well, he had no idea they were going to turn out to be good

L: I suppose not, but even so… Um, yeah, apparently he liked to say that recommending Eastwood was his greatest contribution to the cinema

N: Hard to argue

L: Yeah having seen his IMDb I’m inclined to agree

N: Richard Harris was also, also got involved in Italian cinema but decided to work with Antonioni instead

L: He did the good stuff

N: Yeah, in Red Desert, which is markedly different. So if you – if you’re stuck between watching – there’s only two films on your shelf and one is Secret Agent Fireball and the other’s Red Desert, probably go with Red Desert. Less happens, but it means more

L: Yeah

N: Anywho, what…

L: Oh yeah, he’s also Agent 0-double-7

N: Oh yes! I love agent 0-double-7

L: Yeah, like, and also there was an agent who’d been killed on the same mission called James Clark, I just…very obvious they were just trying to cash in on Bond

N: They are, there were lots of films in, made by the Italian film industry, properly churned out in the 60s like with actual double-0-7’s attached

L: Well yeah it has it’s own genre name doesn’t it, “eurospy” like, *singing a little* we’re gonna do Bond but not Bond but look, it might be Bond

N: Yeah, United Artists and Eon had to step in at one point and say “you know copyright law actually exists? It’s not a vague suggestion that you might like to go with, don’t use double-0-7 again, we have that, that’s our thing! We know you’ve seen the films!

L: Although to be fair they took that from Elizabeth I’s spy master, who used double-0-7, ’cause he was very sort of, Tudor version of astrology was like his big thing

N: Mm

L: So he chose 7 because of angels, and then just stuck two zeroes in front of it, basically, and that’s why James Bond is double-0-7

N: So the only reason that Eon, the Fleming estate, United Artists avoid a, avoided a lawsuit themselves, is because Mercury was in retrograde and John Dee, hiding out in a cave somewhere, decided against it

L: I have heard that

N: Yeah. Fun bit of film trivia for you. So there isn’t honestly, I couldn’t find that much interesting trivia about this one. The music is definitely interesting, it’s a guy who, guy who worked with some of the, some of the greats. Like, he worked with Morriccone and Nino Rota, to name, name the two most, most prominent ones, as well as working on, with Fellini on Amarcord

L: So he was like, the sound of Italian cinema, basically

N: Yeah, he’s been connected to all sorts, really, he did some, some work as a kind of musical, like, director I guess, picking some tracks and things like that in Godfather I believe, which is impressive

L: But, to go back to this actual film

N: Mm

L: There have been a lot of very good closing lines

N: Yes

L: In films. I’m thinking particularly of Clue, the movie

N: Yes. I was think Casablanca but…

L: Casablanca also. Like, you need a good closing line on your film

N: You do

L: and this one is no exception: “you make a perfect radio transmitter darling”

N: Yep

L: And then they kiss

N: Then they kiss

L: *laughs* There’s just so much, wacky hijinks compared with “this is a very serious spy movie”, like at one point he distracts some guards by – somehow he got a string onto the handbrake handle of this car, I don’t know how he would have done that without being seen by the guards

N: Hmm

L: But then he hides in the bushes and pulls the string, and the car rolls away and they have to chase it

N: It does it’s

L: It’s very goofy

N: Incredibly goofy, it’s a goofy movie

L: No Goofy Movie was better

N: It was, had better songs. Um, yeah this one had a fairly, you know it did the right spy movie musical things but you’re right about the tonal shift, because while hitting a lot of the Bond things, the kind of presentation of a lot of it didn’t necessarily feel hugely Bond-y

L: Oh god no

N: Because Bond is, like

L: He’s smooth

N: Yeah and there’s a lot more kind of “I’m sneaking around this very unrealistic supervillain base” and stuff like that, but this felt, yeah much more low-key, much more actually “here’s the Soviets, here’s everything there”

L: Yeah because they were hiding out in an abandoned villa which looked very, like if you’ve ever seen something like Medici

N: Mm

L: It’s very, like I think since it was filmed in Italy it probably actually is an abandoned villa

N: Yeah

L: But that’s, that is also the location of one of my favourite quips

N: Mm

L: ’cause *laughing* Mr 0-double-7 is asked whether he cares about his skin, as in, you know, your life, not his skin-skin. He says “of course, but I’m renting it to my country”, which is such a powerful line! I just, I dunno, I wasn’t that into the film and just, that one line I was like “ok you get some points for that”

N: Yeah, ’cause on the whole the dialogue is not good

L: No, and I don’t think it’s just because of the. sort of, language barrier thing, because it seems to have been done in English, and Harrison, English is his first language

N: There’s some definite flubs, some flubbers shall we say?

L: Some flubbers? Like what?

N: Like people talking, starting a conversation like “yes I will stop talking”

L: Yes! He actually comes, it’s not just that he actually comes into the room and says “I will join this conversation now”

N: Yup, normal

L: Perfectly normal way of introducing yourself

N: My theory: that guy, who I’m just calling That Guy because I can’t remember his name

L: I don’t think he got a name, he’s just a henchman

N: Mr Hench. I have a theory he’s wearing a wire the whole time and he’s so nervous, so he’s just forgotten how people talk

L: It just wasn’t relevant to Harry’s journey

N: It was not relevant to 0-double-7’s journey, and the more I say 0-double-7 it sounds like some sort of helpline like…

L: Talk to Frank

N: Talk to Frank or the butterball headline, except you’re kidnapped by Russians (Liz laughs) and you don’t want your turkey to get burnt so you ring them up and say “hey, y’know, come over, I need you to turn down the oven, stick in some more spuds…

L: “baste”

N: “baste, and maybe call the police, because I’d like to get out”

L: Please

N: Please. Butterball was of course the unauthorised sequel to Thunderball

L: Problem is they left in the oven and it became a fireball

N: yeah it’s a real issue. they had a killer tagline to go with it – they stuck a fork in him but he’s not done.

L: [dies laughing] oh yeah, the nuclear thing. the fact we learn very near to the end that this microfilm they’ve been after is code to help build a nuclear bomb? and the russians and the french… i think it’s the french who have been helping the americans against the russians both want to get hold of it no idea where it’s come from in the first place.

N: Santa

L: and the last scene where it’s “bt the way we’re taking this back from China because we don’t want to change the balance of powers”… cause i feel like at this point china would habv been firmly on the russians side, but in this reality they’ve gonna go up againsxt russia and the US, so we’ve got to stop them gertting HY bombsa.

N: yeah while there’s been sino-soviet tensions over that part of the 20th century this has been an inaccurate look at geopolitics. shame on you secret agewnt fireball shame on you.

L: i mean i think that’s right anyway i’m mostly remembering the project i did on trumanism when i was 15.

N: if only the creatorts of secret agent fireball had read that or anything.

L: to be fair i think they’ve read at least one james bond.

N: yeah they read one James Bond and half of Tinker Tailor. the back half.

L: which does explain why they’re terrible at setup and then things just start getting good.

N:L not especially great setup.

L; we did learn a lesson from this film because we do like to learn lessons – like if you shoot someone in the leg and leave them for dead they’re probably going to get you.

N: yeah this isn’t the civil war people have medicine – like i’ve gangrened him, he’s gone.

L: don’t shoot someone and leave them for dead unless you’ve checked they actually are dead at which point you[‘re just leaving a body. that’s the message a lot of action films.

N: yeah, like, family’s important.

L: rescue the ladies.

N: rescue ALL THE ladies.

L: he rescues about 3 ladies.

and they all have trhe same haircut cause it’s 1965.

N: and don’t leave people for dead those are the things we’ve learned.

L; and if you drive into a fuel tank, it will go boom

N: it do go boom

L: although considering tropes it’s possible the car would have exploded regardless. though if there’s a fuel tank in the middle of the road maybe question something don’t just drive into it

N:L i’m sure they questioned a lot in their final moments.

L: mosatly why am i on fire.

N: yeah. it does feel like it’s the kind of situation where if you hit some soap a pile of leaves, some crickets, an egg, it’s gonna explode

L: to be fair if you run over an egg it will explode just not in a fireball.

N; are you sure?

L: i maen i’ve never run over an egg

N; well then

L; but i have thrown them.

N: it’s a different situation isn’t it?

L: is it? it’s all blunt force. or is it the compression between the tire and the road that’s the issue?

N: it’s the compression. you must compress if ytou want the truth.

L: what?
N: i thought it sounded good.

L: to be fair it could have been a line from this film.

N: there is an interrogation scene.

L: true but they mostly involve tying someone to a chair and hitting them so hard their wig visibly shifts. that was a weird moment. i thought it was her real hair until it wasn’t

N: or it was her real hair but it got hit so hard it flew off.

L: it didn’t fly off!

N: it’s not ready to leave the nest.

L; it’s a fledgling.

N:it needs some worms.

L: so what was your favourite gadgetr? I know mine.

N: i really liked the – this assassin’s in a cafe and has a pipe and then brought a little thing out of it and it was like a pipe dart shooter. THE PIPE GUN!

L: it was also my favourite it was incredibly daft but it was also the most bond thing in the whole film.

N: i thought that’s fun it was a little radio transmitter which seemed like the kind of thing spies would actually use but no it was a pipe gun. cause they mostly worked out how to fit cameras and recording devices into stuff. it was all about efficient packing fdor them. if espionage doesn’t work out they could always do removals.

LK: at this poit we’re creeping up on tetris.

N: we’re always creeping up on tetris.

L: or tetris is creeping up on us. so where do you think this film goes on the camp scale?

N: i’d say it’s pretty damn camp. where does our scale go up to?

L: it goes up to Glastonbury cause there’s nothing camper than a field of tents.

N: i was thinking hidehi

L: that was pretty camp as a show. i don’t think it’s hi-de-hi levels.

N: maybe it’s half of that de-hi

L: hide. just hide. hide from this film

N: hide because the spies will get you.

L: with their tiny blowpipes

N: their tiny pipes in pipes

L: the pipe pipe!¬

N: the pipe pipe! beware or it shall be your undoing!

L: if you like us teaching you about the pipe pipe… you can support as at…. i’m going to double check what that is.. you can edit that, right?

N: no.

L: computer’s being slow.

L: oih no.

L: yeah, fi you appreciate learning about the pipe pipep and the dangers of eggs you can support us at ko-fi.com/pod9 help us buy a pipe pipe

N: with the money we raise we can get a pipe pipe and learn what happens when you compress an egg… no what are you doing with the pipe pipe? no i’ve been hit wi th a pipe pipe… what you don’t know is up my sleeve is a pipepipe pipe. i’ve got as many as i need … and more. oh oh no it’s made another one of itself

L: it’s pipes all the way down!

N: it’s the pipe continuum! help me help! the pipe!

fades out

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