Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In short: Fuller Report (1968)

Original title: Rapporto Fuller, base Stoccolma

Thanks to his galaxy-sized ego and his peanut-sized brain, testosterone-driven monstrosity/professional racing driver Dick Worth (Ken Clark) stumbles into an espionage conspiracy and becomes a murder suspect while he's visiting Stockholm with his manager.

Soon, Dick finds himself hounded by US agents, Soviet agents and people of undisclosed allegiance. All of them think Dick has something to do with what is known as the Fuller Report, so chasing him, kidnapping him and being involved in shoot-outs with him is the natural way to find out what that damn report actually is. Once the Americans have ascertained that Dick does in fact not have a clue about anything except driving cars and trying horrible pick-up lines on women, they decide to press him into service as their worthless, know-nothing professional bear bait, a position he is just too qualified to take, especially since he has somehow made a good impression on ballerina Svetlana Golyadkin (Beba Loncar), an escapee from the Soviet Union and the daughter of a former higher official there. Somehow, Svetlana is involved in the whole Fuller Report affair too, but how, nobody is really sure. Ironically, Dick just might be in a position to find out.

Sergio Grieco's Fuller Report is a fun little example of the Eurospy movie that does not partake in too much of the crack headed madness of large parts of its subgenre (its improbable hero and improbable plot are minor compared to what I'm used to from these films), and doesn't really feature much globe-trotting, yet still includes many of the other elements fun about the sub-genre.

The film makes itself at home in its audience's brains with many silly yet fun twists in its silly yet fun plot, clearly not giving a damn about plausibility when it can spend its time more profitably giving a damn about variety. There's also some lip service towards the concept of the spy game being dark and somewhat immoral, but the film is clearly more interested in involving its amateur spy jerk hero in outrageous yet budget-conscious adventures than in exploring anything more serious for long. That's of course an approach perfectly okay with me as long as a film does provide in the spy action department. Fuller Report certainly does that, for there's hardly a minute when its thematically appropriately named hero is not involved in one pretty exciting situation or the other: shoot-outs, car chases, kidnappings and a bit of torture are all there and provided for, and better, they're all filmed with verve and a sense of excitement.

Ken Clark, at that point already a veteran in Italian genre films, is not exactly a great thespian, but has enough screen presence to keep the frequently dickish Worth something of a charming jerk, and is certainly throwing himself into any and all action sequences with the sort of conviction that makes a cheap yet clever fight when a lackluster performance could have broken it.


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