Monday, April 30, 2012

i SPY EUROSPY: Hot Enough for June

Hot Enough for June
Director: Ralph Thomas
Year 1964

Hot Enough for June, AKA Agent 8 ¾, is a fun comedy/spy hybrid that features an excellent cast and a story that allows the viewer to get lost within this entertainingly slick espionage romp. Many Eurospy films have delved into comedic waters, and Hot Enough for June is one of those efforts that comes out the other side resulting in a thrilling and funny experience. With its beautiful visuals and equally eye catching cast, Agent 8 ¾ is a cinematic wonder that never fails to put a smile on your face and an emphasis on intrigue.

The film follows a down and out writer named Nicholas Whistler, who reluctantly takes a job for an international glass manufacturing company when his benefits run their course. Unknown to Nicholas, the company is actually a front for British Intelligence and because of Whistler’s fluency in Czech, he is sent off to a glass factory in Prague to make contact with another fellow agent there who is in possession of some sensitive information. Thinking that this theatrical display is all at the expense of industrial espionage, Nicholas plays along, until he begins to realize that this line of work is far more dangerous then he was first led to believe. With a warrant out for his arrest and the full force of the Czech police hunting him down, Whistler finds safety with the most unlikely person imaginable, a beautiful young Czech agent named Vlasta Simoneva, who is also the daughter of the chief of police. Constantly on the move and evading the Czech police force at every turn, Nicholas is determined to make it to the British Embassy and leave this action packed super spy lifestyle in the dust. Hot Enough for June is a spy spoof that is a real treat for fans of the genre.

Dirk Bogarde plays the role of Nicholas Whistler, the clueless Czech speaking writer that finds himself in hot water and unfamiliar territory. Bogarde does an amazing job with the character, which at first comes off as forgettable, but as the film progresses along becomes an endearing centerpiece that ultimately drives the movie forward at a tremendous pace. The overwhelming situation that the character of Whistler finds himself in provides such a sympathizing scenario for the audience to latch itself onto, that Bogarde milks it for all it’s worth. Dirk slowly reveals the character’s charisma so to gradually make us feel comfortable with him and ultimately get to know him as the story moves along. It is this technique that eventually pays off in full when Whistler finds himself a wanted man, painfully struggling to get to the safety of the British Embassy. We root for him all the way, hoping against hope that he makes it and comes out victorious over the insurmountable odds. The character of Nicholas Whistler is unlike any that we’ve seen in either traditional Eurospy films or the comedic centric efforts that sprung from the genre, and in that respect Bogarde was able to bring us an unexpectedly brilliant turn as a mistaken secret agent without turning the role into a cartoon-like farce filled with pratfalls and slapstick humor.
Taking on the role of Vlasta Simoneva the exquisitely beautiful Czech agent is the breathtaking Yugoslavian born actress, Sylva Koscina. In Hot Enough for June, Sylva has never looked better and her character is so likable that you can’t help but fall in love with her right alongside Nicholas Whistler. Whenever she appears onscreen, the film just pops to life allowing for some outstanding visual moments that both showcase her physical beauty as well as her more tender and timid sides. The chemistry between both herself and Dirk Bogarde is ever present went the two are shown together, and that connection perfectly establishes their relationship throughout the movie. This is a good thing to, because Sylva’s Vlasta Simoneva is essential to the progression of the story, seeing that she provides the only friendly face for the fish out of water character of Whistler. The trust between this cinematic couple is exceptional and it contrasts to great extent the metaphorical overtone of mistrust that their two countries possess in the film. Sylva Koscina’s presence in this movie only adds to the appeal and longevity of this fun little espionage gem.

What can mostly be said about the atmosphere in Hot Enough for June is that it is succinct in balancing both the edge of your seat thrills with the whimsical nature of the cinema world that it creates for itself. For a Cold War era story, the movie is rather light hearted and free, but at the same time it has a sense of dread splashed here and there as the story progresses into more dire territory. When Whistler is being hunted by the police, we get a taste of the alienation that he feels and the loneliness that he deals with while trying to gather his bearings within a culture drastically unlike his own. These moments are unsettling and highly effective in capturing that paranoid mind set of a person on the run and with nowhere to turn. Hot Enough for June nails this difficult balance of both traditional espionage elements and comedy driven narratives, making for an interesting combination that looks absolutely mesmerizing.
The visuals are a real treat in this production, showcasing the tremendously retro style of the time period. We get glimpses of colorful restaurants, historic cityscapes, ritzy hotels, and gloriously groovy water parks, all shot with a cinematic sheen that begs for repeated viewings. The cinematography of Hot Enough for June is also commendable, providing so many well lit and beautifully composed shots that you’d be hard pressed to find a more pleasing presentation of a Eurospy spoof. With its attractive chemistry-filled cast, its balancing act of the serious and the silly, and its overall brilliant visual style, Hot Enough for June is an espionage tale that seems to perfectly capture the inspiring elements that make this niche genre so damn enjoyable.

Hot Enough for June is a remarkably fun film, which manages to roll with the tried and true formula of placing an ordinary man in extraordinary situations just to watch him squirm, yet the filmmakers do it in such a manner that it feels fresh and new. The enjoyability factor of this movie is through the roof, fantastically displayed so that our eyeballs threaten to burst from our skull.
With a cast as spectacularly presented and hand picked as this one, you’d be kidding yourself if you didn’t find something to hold your attention. Dirk Bogarde is the perfect everyman, bringing the sensibilities that are needed in order to convince the audience of his hapless nature and inevitable destiny to overcome any obstacle no matter how insurmountable. Sylva Koscina just scorches up the scenery, looking as ravishing as she ever has in her long line of cinema roles. I’d be lying to myself if I said I wasn’t as smitten with her as our dear old Nicholas Whistler. The film, simply put, is just plain old fun providing all of the aspects of a spy spoof that you’d come to expect from the genre, yet amping up the fun factor of it all a hundred fold. There’s a magic to this simple film that catches me off guard every time I view it and I’m willing to bet that it will sweep you up just the same. If that doesn’t float your boat then what can I say, this flick was…..

Don't they have any Playboy mags on this flight?

Keep your dollar sir. I'm not a whore!

Get out of my dreams, get into my car.

Dirk is struck dumb by Sylva's sexiness.

Hubba Hubba!

What's this pervert looking at?

Cheer up Charlie.

Too sexy! TOO SEXY!

Dirk... you badass.

Take that you stupid spine. Try selling that on Amazon now you bastards!

Sir, I believe you have my Mr. Snuggles stuffy.

Have you seen this dickhead?

Damn I hate fat gingerhead kids. Shit... there's one right behind me isn't there?

Way to blend in asshole.

Let me get this straight. You're a milkman and your last name is Milk? Uncanny!

God you're sick.

Look! It's the happiest guy on the planet!

What did I tell you about this book learnin shit.

1 comment:

  1. Gonna check this movie out! Never heard of it!

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