The Ipcress File (1965)
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The Ipcress File is a 1965 procedural spy thriller starring Michael Caine as Harry Palmer, the unnamed protagonist from Len Deighton's spy novels. Caine's Palmer is slightly insubordinate and cool as ice, something that's true of the film's style as well, where the messiness of every day life is always present - creating a rich, textured world - in contrast with the direction's slick and sometimes surprising angles and sound design. And despite the crux of the story being about a new brainwashing technique that almost feels like science-fiction, the procedural is very much steeped in realism. The legwork, the office politics, even the action scenes, all seem very real and fairly unglamorous. So there's an artistic tension between the various elements, as well as the thriller's own natural tension. Caine would play this character several times more, as we will see over the course of this month.
This might be the most British spy movie ever, a lot of stiff upper lip. The John Barry score is lively, if a bit repetitive (as a side note, was the Dexter theme song inspired by this? Compare: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2Jw6_Xgszk vs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZQrkLhSgpY). The visuals are pretty stylized, very heavy on the dutch angles. Michael Caine is charming as a Bond-esque roguish ladies man. Definitely a good pick of the 1960s British Crime/Spy genre.
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In 4 official lists
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This movie ranks #59 in BFI 100
This movie ranks #429 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
This movie ranks #449 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #468 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life