Gary Fenn (Roger Moore) is a London advertising executive who this morning has spent the whole night with an attractive young lady but now has to rush away when his watch alarm goes off, much to her chagrin. He manages to reach the office without his boss catching sight of him - Gary was supposed to have been working for hours on his latest campaign - but is nearly foiled when getting into his room. With the help of a window cleaner, he succeeds, and is all ready to put forward his idea of getting a young, non-professional for the campaign - which is where his problems really begin.
If that makes this sound like some kind of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying affair, a lighthearted comedy set in the advertising world in this case, it was actually a thriller which courted comparisons to Alfred Hitchchock and his innocent men on the run suspense pieces, of which there were a few. Not that Crossplot was quite up to the standards of a master such as him, but it was nowhere near as unenjoyable as the reaction it received at the time would have you believe, yes, it was basically a dry run for Moore's tenure as James Bond, but none the worse for that with its bemused backdrop of the time, hippies, protests and all.
What you got here was a mixture of comedy, romance and thrills, and if it had a second hand air the cast did their darnedest to breathe life into it, many times achieving a light, bright and breezy touch, although the close to TV budget befitting the star who had made his name internationally on the small screen as The Saint did show, with many a scene not quite as glossy as you imagine they intended. Nevertheless, there was a degree of charm to this, depending on you tolerance of this sort of spy yarn, that should have made it an ideal candidate for whiling away a wet Sunday afternoon if you were so inclined to spend it with a vintage movie.
Not that the plot of the title was particularly easy to follow, and then when you did have the measure of it, turned out to not be especially important anyway, at least in comparison to how keen the filmmakers were to impress you with the dangerous situations Gary gets into. He's not alone in that, as along for the ride was Claudie Lange, an Italian Sophia Loren lookalike who never made the big time; this was her highest profile role in the English language at any rate. She played Hungarian Marla Kugash, who somehow gets foisted onto Gary's campaign - we find out how later on, but overall the story banks on us not knowing what is really going on much as the lead character does.
When Gary tracks her down to a houseboat, there's a meet cute where she pushes him in the muddy water and they get acquainted under her shower, yet before long he has been implicated in a murder when what he was trying to do was save Marla. The would-be killer is played by Dudley Sutton, and if you were the type of film buff who liked to spot the famous, or recognisable anyway, faces in your oldies then Crossplot was ideal, with Bernard Lee strengthening the Bond connection, though he's not what he seems, Francis Matthews as the main heavy, and some glamour girls of the period such as Veronica Carlson or Gabrielle Drake showing up on the periphery too. It's episodic, it doesn't hang together as a satisfying conspiracy tale, but as it doesn't take itself altogether seriously mainly thanks to the efforts of Sir Rog you might find yourself diverted by its silliness. One thing, though: they said they'd go back for Alexis Kanner, but they never do. Music by Stanley Black.