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  Spy's Wife, The Only Buggin'
Year: 1972
Director: Gerry O'Hara
Stars: Dorothy Tutin, Ann Lynn, Tom Bell, Vladek Sheybal, Freda Bamford, Glenna Forster-Jones, Janet Waldron, Julian Holloway, Bunny May, Shaun Curry
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tom (Tom Bell) is a British spy, and as he packs his suitcase to sally forth on another mission, his wife Hilda (Dorothy Tutin) strikes up a conversation with him about his work, although he is careful not to say too much as what he gets up to is strictly hush-hush. What does emerge during their chat is that Tom believes their apartment to be bugged, something which Hilda does well to disguise her alarm about, and as she waves Tom goodbye she sets to work in tracking down the elusive listening device...

What The Spy's Wife amounted to was a half hour or so of build up to a middling punchline, not so much a spoof on the James Bond movies as more on the level of a sitcom, only with fewer gags. For much of the time you're not sure if it's supposed to be funny at all, as from this remove you have to take it into account that senses of humour might have changed, or perhaps it wasn't exactly hilarious in the first place. There's almost an anti-glamour to this depiction of a spy's lifestyle that may not be The Ipcress File or John Le Carré, but inadvertantly says more about the year it came out than Diamonds are Forever.

This makes short films like this perfect for nostalgists and social historians as the background and casual details raise the interest: want a look at a typical London high street in the early seventies or how a flat would have been furnished back then? Look no further than this. Plus, as is often the way with such productions, there are a few recognisable faces in the cast, including the father of Sophie Dahl, Julian Holloway, who co-wrote the script with director Gerry O'Hara. The Spy's Wife was designed as filler for a double bill to support a more popular feature, and it's unlikely there would be many who recalled seeing it from the time, but as an item of cinema history it encapsulates its type better than most. Needed a muted trumpet going "wah, wah, wah, waaah!" for the last shot, though.

[This is available with two other shorts on a very reasonably priced DVD from the BFI entitled Kim Newman's Guide to the Flipside of British Cinema, the main feature of which is Mr Newman's knowledgeable musings on the UK films provided by the Flipside line of DVDs and Blu-rays. As an overview, it's really a DVD extra given its own headlining slot, but will be a must for anyone who's interested in these productions and will leave the viewer enthusiastic to see more.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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