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I've been watching a very old TV series called Espionage (ITC 1963/4) (as I've mentioned a few times lately). It is an anthology series about spies, so each episode is a different story. I'm not sure what to make of it, to be honest, but I am enjoying watching it. It's an odd mix - ITC pretty and stellar casting, coupled with dollops of sentimentality, and occasional hackneyed dialogue, but with some interesting storylines and - which I think is its saving grace for me - a rather surprising cynicism and disapproval of espionage, war, and violence - and it's very critical about 'necessary' sacrifices - most episodes seem to conclude the cost is too high for both those who die and those required to be responsible for such decisions. With 1960s b&w pretty and amazing casts. So, I can't complain too much, even if for the first few episodes everyone cried so much it was bordering on overwrought.

So far I've watched about 9 episodes and have 13 more to go, so I reserve the right to change my mind.

Here are some not too long (and, as ever, not terribly serious) picspams for Alfred Burke in "Covenant With Death", James Maxwell in "The Final Question" and also some of "Light of a Friendly Star".

"Covenant With Death" is set in two time frames - a trial of two former (young) Resistance members in 1947 for an incident that happened in 1942, with flashbacks. They killed two Jewish refugees they were trying to get to Sweden and are being tried for murder and theft. As the trial progresses, the court find their actions more excusable, but the pair themselves become finally convinced of their guilt (that they didn't in fact 'have' to do it, as they believed, and so they are murderers) even as the court finds them not guilty. Which is quite clever (it's just ITC. I have a complex. Help.)

However, I knew from the internet that Alfred Burke looked like this:

So I had assumed he was a villain, probably a Nazi. I was wrong! He was not in it for very long, but it was a decent part, and he turned out to be a hero of the Norwegian Resistance. It was his youngest brother who was on trial. (I am a little curious about what sort of Norwegian family manages to have an oldest son with a slight Cockney accent and a youngest son who's American. It does make you wonder what sort of accent the middle brother we never get to meet had.)

1947 Alfred Burke, or Gustave Kolstrom. He comes in to give his testimony about halfway through. Clearly terrible things happened to him when imprisoned by the Nazis, because...

...in 1942, he looked like this. (It's set in Norway, so everybody has natty knitwear, though I omitted to picspam it all for you, but rest assured there is even a nice woolly hat involved.)

Two terrible cliches people need help. (He's such a nice guy. So frowny at little brother when he gets angry with them.)

Alfred Burke doesn't pose in doorways as much as some people, but he does occasionally like to hug them. (Also stepladders.)

Or possibly he's just propping his cabin up?

The Gestapo turns up at the door. Everyone else hides. Alfred Burke decides to start taking his clothes off instead.

This is obviously so he can tell the soldiers that he was asleep and he saw nothing, honest, guv, of course (but it was a bit random while watching when everyone was running about and he suddenly threw off his jumper). This gets him arrested and dragged off, but it saves the others.

Then he gets angry at everybody for putting his little brother on trial after everything they've been through.

The jury give him Looks for making such a fuss. Tut, tut, not the thing, in court...

The prosecutor tells him off because everybody else suffered, too, but didn't go round murdering people, thanks.

And, with that, he is gone.

"The Final Question" was a contemporary episode about an American man who is diagnosed by his doctor as having only three months left to live. The secret service want him to use his limited time left to him by getting assassinated so that someone else can escape from somewhere in Eastern Europe. He's very reluctant, but eventually agrees... only to find that the person he's trying to help isn't actually all that keen to be sent to the US. (I am a bad person: I found this one the funniest so far because a] James Maxwell in 1960s dorky mode and b] MAGIC TALKING PAPER.)

Anyway... ITC were a very transatlantic TV outfit and this was an international-themed show. Somehow it still failed to occur to me that somebody might actually want James Maxwell to be American for a change. (I forget! He does an impeccable RP accent while all about him British actors are doing the dodgiest accents of all kinds. Sometimes even American ones. I think directors probably forgot about James Maxwell being American, too. I'm pretty sure some of them looked at his name and assumed he must be Scottish. Which he wasn't.) Anyway, he may have been using his real accent. Or possibly it was a different fake one. It's hard to tell. At least he was allowed to wear his glasses for a change.

He's a secret agent called Smith and nobody in this episode is ever happy to see him. Which is because he's kind of sinister and annoying and wants people to volunteer for assassination, so fair enough really.

Here is one person's reaction to getting a visit from James Maxwell.

Here he is creeping up on somebody else...

... who's not especially pleased to see him either. This is Martin Balsam as Mr Carey. The doctor just told him he has three months to live max. Which you'd think would be bad enough, but now he has sinister James Maxwell jumping out on him with an unlikely tale of knowing a specialist who might be able to cure him.

So James Maxwell whisks him away to his boss's office on false pretences.

Basically, they want him to get assassinated to help them out. Carey doesn't feel inclined to give up even a week of his little time left, thanks. He goes off to party in all the night clubs in New York for a week and have fun.

James Maxwell follows him to all the nightclubs and doesn't have fun.

He does take Carey home at the end of the week and look after him.

The show decided at this point that an extreme close-up of James Maxwell in glasses was needed.

He makes him coffee.

And... er... um... There was probably a reason for this. (♥)

Carey would really rather he'd go away.

James Maxwell chats nicely about how meaningless life is, how Carey has just spent all his money, how depressing the view is etc. etc. You know, just casual talk without an agenda...

"And when you're ready to die, just give me a call."

"Get stuffed."

Obviously, Carey does agree after that (or else there wouldn't be much of a story) and then there was no need for James Maxwell to stalk him any more, sadly.

Ann Lynch and Alan Gifford as the two agents who helped him go through with the assassination. One of them also fell in love with him. (Guess which one?)

Except do you know what you don't want to do at your climactic emotional tragic moment?


As a bonus, Richard Marner (aka Colonel von Strohm from Allo Allo) turned up briefly as the Russian Ambassador:

As I said in my other post, "The Light of a Friendly Star" was a terrible tale of a freelance spy who is forced to abduct the ten year old daughter of the British Ambassador, but the whole thing embodies a trope I have a weakness for, so i loved it. Besides, the small cast was good and the precocious child was at least meant to be precocious, so that worked out.

Kit Morley (Loretta Parry) is the daughter of the British Ambassador in West Germany. They have a pretty close relationship, but he's very busy and important. She gets left sitting around in his study reading his history books instead of spending time with him, just before she has to go back to boarding school.

However, in the meantime, a freelance agent called Leo (Carl Schell) blags his way into the Embassy and later on creeps into the study to photograph top secret documents.

Kit is still in the study & he winds up taking her with him and escaping in the car that's been sent for to drive her to school.

Kit thinks Leo is like some sort of combination of Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole and Robert Mitchum and also that she wanted a really exciting thing to tell her schoolfriends, so she's reasonably okay with being kidnapped. It's better than boarding school and her Aunt Margaret.

When he tries to put her on a bus back to her father, she sabotages his car & it's also at that point that he realises she understands German (and French and Italian) and knows the top secret address he's going to, so he has to keep her with him till he's passed on the info. (Which is apparently worthless anyway, because the British ambassador doesn't keep important things in that desk. Apart from a gun.)

With the car out of action, they have to walk through the rain, then hide in a barn for the night, steal apples and have a sentimental conversation.

In the morning, he lets her phone her Father so he'll know she's all right. (Her father has been telling Wilson from British Intelligence that it's not a mystery why a spy with no history of such things has kidnapped her. "You don't know my daughter...")

Donald Pickering is Wilson. (I'm assuming he's British Intelligence, because otherwise I don't know who he is or what he's doing running about trying to find Kit. He's just in it for the hugs perhaps, about which more anon.)

Naturally, dragging a ten year old girl to your top secret spy meeting tends to cause trouble and Leo gets shot trying to protect her from George Pravda.

She doesn't want him to die, especially not when she thinks a lot of it is her fault.

Leo doesn't mind. He's thinking about converting to sentimentality if he survives. (He does. Donald Pickering turns up in time you'll be glad to learn.)

Smug ten year old pwns the world.

Despite apparently not knowing Kit, Donald Pickering seems to want to hug her a lot.

You see what I mean?

Hugging her Father, of course, is perfectly reasonable.

Wilson & Morley: "Gosh, wouldn't it be terrible if she helped Leo escape from the hospital?" *exchange amused knowing looks* (Which was when I went WTH? and wrote fic. As you can see, this was not my fault.)

(I'll try and picspam some of the others too. Definitely the Patrick Troughton, anyway. But probably others, because ITC is so pretty.)

Crossposted from Dreamwidth -- Comments there: comment count unavailable


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 29th, 2014 11:09 pm (UTC)
Donald Pickering wanting to hug people? Not strangle them? Are we sure that this is the same Donald Pickering?!

...(but it was a bit random while watching when everyone was running about and he suddenly threw off his jumper). This gets him arrested and dragged off...

Blimey, arrested for taking off his jumper. I knew the Nazis were totalitarian, but I didn't know they had a dress code... The accent muddle made me smile. It reminded me of one of my favourite shows from the nineties, "Poltergeist: The Legacy". It's an American show, but the hero is played by a Dutchman. I'm never entirely sure if we're supposed to notice. His mother's English, his father's Canadian, he apparently went to school in San Francisco. When his sister turned up, they got her to fake a bad German accent, possibly in the hope that this would somehow help explain something. I'm not sure quite what. Accents always add to the fun.

That's the little girl from "Hand In Hand". Rather a sweet little film. I think you'd like it.
Aug. 30th, 2014 06:35 am (UTC)
Are we sure that this is the same Donald Pickering?!

It looked like him, but you never know. ;-) I haven't ever seen him strangling people. He's usually just being so posh he could probably be arrested for it.

You're very mean. Bits in brackets in a paragraph are separate from other bits not in brackets. But then again, I don't know why the Nazis arrested him. It might as well have been for having his shirt undone as for anything else.

That's the little girl from "Hand In Hand". Rather a sweet little film. I think you'd like it.

I'll investigate. :-)
Aug. 30th, 2014 08:51 am (UTC)
You're very mean.

See, I keep pointing this out to people, but they never believe me.

But then again, I don't know why the Nazis arrested him.

Well, by definition, they are evil. They don't tend to have Nazis on TV now, do they? (I don't know why I'm asking that of someone who watches as little modern TV as I do, if not less!) Up until roughly the end of the sixties, if you wanted a properly sinister bad guy, they were a Nazi. A quick shorthand for evil. ITC was very fond of using them. Played directly into the experiences of the audience of the time, I suppose.
Aug. 30th, 2014 11:19 am (UTC)
I suppose in the 1960s, the relative plausibility of your latest villain being an (ex)Nazi was greater than it is now. You tend to have to be watching a war drama, or SF with Nazis-in-disguise. I don't know.

I do watch some modern TV!!

Except, of course, yesterday I watched more Espionage - Julian Glover and Mark Eden were two thirds of a WWII crack team of saboteurs comprised of a Russian, a Brit and an American. (The American was Donald Madden.) It didn't end well, let's say. It was terrible for Julian Glover. He was definitely stuffed by the end and he felt so badly about having to kill the other two, poor thing. :lol:
Aug. 30th, 2014 12:19 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, poor Julian Glover! He always makes television better for being in it. It should be far nicer to him in return.
Aug. 30th, 2014 12:47 pm (UTC)
Well, it is often his fault for being villainous, you have to admit. You can't go round being Nazis/stormtroopers/scarred people with dodgy accents/weird aliens and not expect some dashing hero to try and put a spoke in your wheel. In this case, though, it was unfair, as it was only because he was Russian and not very keen on people blowing up the world with atom bombs. It was all the fault of an evil Nazi scientist coming between the three of them.
Aug. 30th, 2014 02:23 pm (UTC)
Step ladders are tarts;p

Boo to Mr Smith ruining a perfectly good hurt/comfort picspam and dumping Carey once he got what he wanted. I had to take my glasses off and wipe my eyes after viewing the magic paper pic:D Ah well, it was the psychedelic era.

Ha, ha Leo is the worst spy ever. How did he pass the interview? Kit to rule the future world. Oh noes George Pravda was mean? He was such a sweetheart in 'Strangers', Bulman will be gutted.
Aug. 30th, 2014 07:57 pm (UTC)
Stepladders will sleep with anyone. ;-)

I don't think Leo had an interview; he just nicked info for whoever would pay him this time. I'm going to be kind and assume it was a bad day and he was slightly distracted by having to tow a cute ten year old around with him. George Pravda often is mean; it's the penalty of having a *gasp* actual foreign accent, poor thing.
Sep. 5th, 2014 11:27 pm (UTC)
I love your picspam. Seriously. They just make me laugh. ::sighs happily::

also that she wanted a really exciting thing to tell her schoolfriends, so she's reasonably okay with being kidnapped. It's better than boarding school and her Aunt Margaret.

Now there's a girl who's up for adventure! No wonder you've had to write fic. :oD

Poor Alfred Burke. It was inevitable that his ruse would fail, but his jumper looked rather nice. It's a shame you didn't include the woolly hat.

And talking of Mr. Burke, your screencaps of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) are done. There are um...56 pages of them. AB is in the episode a lot, though it's a shame he plays a bad guy.

The first page is here, it's public, but you have to make sure to view the pics by file name order. The first 5 pictures are from the episode gallery, but after that it's screencaps all the way.

Do you know the episode at all? If you don't, I'll do a picspam of the ep to give you an idea of how it goes. Let me know if you want me to.
Sep. 6th, 2014 07:54 am (UTC)
Aw, I'm glad you enjoy them! :-)

And thank you for the screencaps! I'd forgotten, so that was an unexpectedly nice thing! I've been flicking through them (they're very nice indeed! \o/) but if you wanted to do a picspam of the episode, that would be wonderful, because, yes, I'm baffled. Why is he making people's tables float? Why does he seem to be dressing as an Edwardian in the 60s? Yrs, completely puzzled of LJ. I'm sure the reason is probably just because 1960s TV, so why not have evil devices to float people's tables?

But thank you!! ♥ They are rather lovely pics.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


spooks - Harry/Ruth/Bench = ♥

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