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The Assassination Bureau
The Assassination Bureau
Actors: Oliver Reed, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas, Curd Jürgens, Philippe Noiret
Director: Basil Dearden
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Comedy, Mystery & Suspense
PG     2004     1hr 50min


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Movie Details

Actors: Oliver Reed, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas, Curd Jürgens, Philippe Noiret
Director: Basil Dearden
Creators: Geoffrey Unsworth, Charles Orme, Michael Relph, Jack London, Robert L. Fish, Wolf Mankowitz
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Comedy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Crime, Espionage, Indie & Art House, Comedy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/13/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 50min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 19
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Zeppelins, bombs, and bordellos, oh my...
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 08/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Assassination Bureau (1969), directed by Basil Deardon, is a wonderfully funny dark comedy, full of suave, sophisticated characters, lush settings, and wry humor, the kind we just don't see made anymore as it treats its' audience with intelligence and respect while not being too smart for its' own good, as opposed to many comedies of the present that focus on toilet humor, foul language, and just the general need to try and be a gross as possible, dumbing things down as much as possible for the broadest audience. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to be a film snob as I like most all kinds of movies, but I just wish along with what we have, we could also have more films along the lines of this one.

The film stars a very handsome Oliver Reed and the exceptionally beautiful Diana Rigg as Ivan Dragomiloff and Miss Winter, respectively. The story, set in what seems to be early 20th century, begins with Miss Winter desires to gain employment within a newspaper, one own by Lord Bostwick, played by Telly Savalas (Who loves ya, baby?). Her method for getting her foot in the door comes in the form of information she's uncovered about a mysterious international organization of hitmen, secretly called The Assassination Bureau, Limited, that takes commissions to execute people for money. Bostwick agrees to hire her, and in order to get a better handle on the story, she makes contact with the group, with the purpose to commission them to do a killing for her. She meets Ivan, and requests that he be the target. Ivan, who inherited his position and the company from his father, is of the idealistic sort, and sees this as a real opportunity to not only test his organization, but to strengthen the idealistic principles which his father brought forth when he started the bureau, as Ivan feels the current bureau has become to focused on the monetary gains from their lucrative business. He accepts Miss Winter's commission, and presents it to the board, and soon the challenge begins. Ivan must survive against some of the world's most deadly killers, taking them out before they do him in...with Miss Winters in tow, as she follows the story for her newspaper. Will the bureau be successful? Or will Ivan manage to elude his own murder, one which he accepted a commission for himself? I'm not going to tell, but I will say it's worth watching to find out. There's actually a lot more within the plot that I didn't detail, as I didn't want to give too much away for those who haven't seen the film.

As I said, the movie is a lot of fun and very enjoyable. Reed is especially charming and witty, and the chemistry between him and Diana Rigg's character comes through in nearly every scene they appear. Both actors bring a natural sophistication to their characters that just a real treat to watch. The film has the overall feel of a really well done comedy thriller with plenty of twists and turns to keep the viewer on his/her feet. The supporting cast did an excellent job, and there seemed to be a strong effort to choose suitable actors to fill out the international cast of characters. While the story was complex, yet easy to follow, some of the relationships between the characters seemed a little light, but this was such a minor nitpick to me, given the films strengths. Also, great attention was given to the look and feel of the scenes and the wardrobe, and also the scenes shot on location, as to convey a sense of the time period during which the film takes place. Speaking of place, the film travels from England throughout Europe, visiting countries like Switzerland, Germany, Italy, to name a few, providing a wonderful, lush, adventurous backdrop to an interesting story. One of the things I really liked about the movie that the story sticks to its' plot, offering little in the way of diversions that only cause the viewer to be removed from the film. The pacing may slow a bit at some points, but it does move along at a comfortable, even pace. While some elements may be predictable, I found overall that the story appeared to original and engaging. The special effects in the film will appear extremely obvious, but given when the film was made, this was about the level one could expect. I would say just go along with it, and appreciate the movie as a whole, and forgo focusing too much on these elements. Also, when is the last time you saw a zeppelin in a movie? Okay, maybe that not so entertaining James Bond flick A View to a Kill (1985), but this film is much better.

The wide screen print provided on this DVD looks exceptional, providing a clear and crisp image that really shows of the vibrant and beautiful colors throughout the film, especially highlighting the finer details of the costuming (I don't usually notice the costuming within a film, unless it's really off base or the film is a presenting a certain period in time. This particular period just happened to include colorful, elaborate, and intricate costumes, which were, at least in my opinion, really well done). There is a noticeable absence of special features, even lacking the customary theatrical trailer, but there are English subtitles available, which I found handy at times as the accents within the film sometimes were a bit thick and not easily understood. I would have enjoyed a little more in the way of special features, but I really can't complain, as the film looks excellent.

The Assassination Bureau, Limited
laddie5 | 06/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I loved this movie as a boy thirty years ago and approached the video with some fear: would it be as enjoyable as I remembered it? No need to worry. The adult cringed a little at the pan-and-scan print, the crude editing, the overdone '60s shenanigans, and the incessant theme music. But the boy was as happy as ever. "The Assassination Bureau" is clever and witty, and the actors are clearly having a great time. Oliver Reed, normally a bit of a sourpuss, actually performs with humor and style for once. But the movie's greatest asset is Diana Rigg, the first actress I ever had a crush on. Maybe if you're a Baby Boomer like me, she'll always be the one for you. In this movie, as in the great neglected James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," she is droll and sexy and somehow very moving, and in both she has a particularly funny rapport with villain Telly Savalas, barely containing her disgust for him. All in all, highly recommended."
Michael Butts | Martinsburg, WV USA | 09/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"1969 was a good year for the inimitable Diana Rigg and the ubiquitous at that time Telly Savalas. They appeared together in the essential James Bond "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and in this little-seen but wonderfully done "Assassination Bureau."
Dame Diana was an icon of the late sixties, having charmed us for three years as Emma Peel in the exquisite AVENGERS TV series. After leaving the series, Rigg appeared in these two movies and also in George C. Scott's "The Hospital" and Vincent Price's "Theater of Blood." Cooly beautiful, unassumedly British and elegant, Diana Rigg became one of our most underappreciated screen presences.
Her buoyant performance as the feminist Sarah Winters in this film is delightful; never has she appeared so coy and kittenish as in this role. The also underappreciated Oliver Reed is dashing as the hero/villain, and of course, Savalas is triumphant as the quinessential villain. Add Curt Jurgens in a delightfully daffy role as a crazy German and you have a delightful drawing room black comedy. The special effects for a late sixties movie are predictably shoddy, but this is like watching one of those delightful Jules Verne movies---it doesn't matter, the cast is so good. Definitely a minor classic."
Fun, offbeat caper picture...
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 07/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

""The Assassination Bureau (Limited)" is a fine example of a late sixties comedy. Diana Rigg and Oliver Reed are joined by Telly Savalas in this turn-of-the-century romp through Europe.

Reed plays the chairman of a group of hitmen, set up along the same lines as a business concern. Reporter Rigg decides to take out a contract with Reed on the head of his own orginization; namely himself! Undaunted, Reed accepts in order to settle a philosophical debate that has plagued the board of directors. Reed believes in taking contracts only upon those who deserve it; other board members believe the ABL is a tool only for political power and monetary profit. By accepting the contract upon himself, Reed becomes a target for the board and at the same time the other board members become fair game for him!

The film is a bit slow-paced, but with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The film makes a semi-parody of political tensions just before the outbreak of the First World War, as the ABL board (sans Reed) longs to be the power behind the thrones of Europe.

Reed is excellent, as always, and Rigg does a variation of her famous Emma Peel character with pleasing results. Savalas is his usual menacing self, and Curt Jurgens is fun as a crazed German officer and ABL board member. There is also a great zeppelin sequence and zeppelin set, but the early chromakey matting for the special effects is only marginally effective.

Fun, offbeat picture that is worth viewing at least once.