The Internecine Project

Starring: James Coburn, Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry and Lee Grant
Fremantle Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 25 April 2005

An economics professor is offered the chance to extend his power and influence by becoming a presidential adviser, but first he must eliminate the only four people in the world who can attest to his murky past as a secret agent...

The Internecine Project made in 1973 was a late arrival to the genre of cold war films that relied on atmosphere, rather than gadgets, which arguably was at its height in the late sixties early seventies with films such as The Ipcress File in 1965. These films stood in stark contrast to the usual spy fare provided by the James Bond films. In this convention, the audience is rarely spoon fed plot pointers, which leads to a much more satisfying experience. Due to the inclusion of James Coburn, presumably to attract an American audience, it does not have the raw grittiness of a gangster film like Get Carter (1971) or the joyous silliness of a spy film like Billion Dollar Brain (1967). That's not to say that it doesn't have charms of its own.

Directed by Ken Hughes better known for directing Casino Royale and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the direction remains tight and the settings are generally sinister and moody - mostly set in dark claustrophobic rooms. The film is shot in a more realistic, less stylised fashion common of the British and German films of the period. The oddity here is that often these films, unlike their American contemporaries, went straight into the action, giving a modern audience, used to seeing the studio logo and a whole five minute preamble, the feeling that this was a straight to video affair. This could not be further from the truth.

The music, by Roy Budd who also provided the soundtrack for Soldier Blue and Get Carter, is note worthy in an age which was soon to be dominated by the orchestral excesses of Jerry Goldsmith. Its minimalist approach is more akin to European films of a decade earlier, and very reminiscent of Get Carter which he also scored. We can only be thankful that he didn't do Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - that would have been too freaky.

This was an English/German production, which explains the very good choices for the acting roles. Coburn, who plays Robert Elliot, should need little introduction, an accomplished actor whose career has spanned The Magnificent Seven (1960) up to his recent vocal work in Monsters Inc (2001). As you would expect, he does a magnificent job at portraying the callous economics professor.

Lee Grant plays the love interest, but her part is rather superfluous to the rest of the plot and would not have seriously impacted on the film if her character had never existed. The poor unfortunates that Coburn must set up to die are played with great assurance by three great English character actors - Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry and Michael Jayston - whilst the last victim is played by Christiane Krüger, who has had a career mainly in German cinema.

The disc has nothing in the way of extras. The print is not great showing many artefacts and generally being soft in appearance. The mono track works well and, given the soundscape of the film, it's difficult to know how bumping it up to 5.1 would have improved things. For those confused by the title - and I count myself amongst them - Internecine apparently means mutually destructive, so now we know.

Charles Packer

Buy this item online
We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal!
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£9.74 (Amazon.co.uk)
£10.99 (MVC.co.uk)
£8.99 (Powerplaydirect.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.