A Dandy in Aspic

Last updated

A Dandy in Aspic
French DVD cover
Directed by Anthony Mann
Laurence Harvey (uncredited)
Written by Derek Marlowe
Based onA Dandy in Aspic
1966 novel
by Derek Marlowe
Produced byAnthony Mann
Starring Laurence Harvey
Tom Courtenay
Mia Farrow
Peter Cook
Harry Andrews
Cinematography Christopher Challis
Austin Dempster
Edited by Thelma Connell
Music by Quincy Jones
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
April 1968 (UK)
2 April 1968
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

A Dandy in Aspic is a 1968 neo-noir [1] Technicolor and Panavision British spy film, directed by Anthony Mann, based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Derek Marlowe and starring Laurence Harvey, Tom Courtenay, and Mia Farrow. Costumes by Pierre Cardin. It was Mann's final film.


Set against the backdrop of 1960s Cold War Europe, it is the story of a spy known to his superiors in British Intelligence by his code name, "Eberlin" (Laurence Harvey).


Eberlin (Laurence Harvey), a Cold-War British intelligence operative, has a problem. His superiors have ordered him to find and assassinate a KGB agent named Krasnevin, believed to be responsible for the recent murders of British agents. Summoned to a meeting at a country estate, he is presented with film footage of the suspected Krasnevin. He turns out to be Eberlin's go-between with Russian double agents.

To accomplish his assignment, Eberlin is partnered with a ruthless, cynical, and sociopathic British agent, Gatiss (Tom Courtenay), who openly distrusts and dislikes him. Mia Farrow plays a London-based photographer with whom Eberlin has an affair. Much of the film takes place in West Berlin, where Eberlin, as part of his mission, attempts to cross the Berlin Wall to the East. His attempts are frustrated by his partnership with Gatiss and by the Soviet authorities, who are keen to retain the identity of the assassin.



Largely filmed on location in London and Berlin, this was Anthony Mann's final film; he died of a heart attack before it was finished. Its direction was completed by Harvey. The film also features Peter Cook, at a time when his TV career was at a peak, in a minor role as the foppish but libidinous British agent Prentiss.




Reviews of the film were largely unfavourable. The New York Times described it as "a very wobbly spy movie...slow, blank, decorous and completely devoid of suspense." [4] Variety dismissed the film as a "routine, poorly-titled espionage meller loaded with uninteresting, cardboard characters." [5] Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide rates the film 2 out of 4 stars and describes it as a "wooden spy melodrama in which principals keep switching sides so rapidly it becomes impossible to follow." [6] Among the more positive reviews, Time Out says "the film is strong on Cold War atmospherics and notable for its superior cast." [7]

Home media

A Dandy in Aspic was released to DVD on 1 August 2011 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as a DVD-on-demand title available through Amazon. A limited edition blu-ray disc with extensive bonus materials was released in the United Kingdom on 25 March 2019. In 2020, it became available for streaming on The Criterion Channel.

Related Research Articles

<i>Darling</i> (1965 film) 1965 film by John Schlesinger

Darling is a 1965 British romantic drama film directed by John Schlesinger from a screenplay written by Frederic Raphael. It stars Julie Christie as Diana Scott, a young successful model and actress in Swinging London, toying with the affections of two older men, played by Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Harvey. The film was shot on-location in London, Paris, Rome and Shepperton Studios by cinematographer Kenneth Higgins, with a musical score composed by Sir John Dankworth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Laurence Harvey</span> Lithuanian-British actor (1928–1973)

Laurence Harvey was a Lithuanian-born British actor and film director. He was born to Lithuanian Jewish parents and emigrated to South Africa at an early age, before later settling in the United Kingdom after World War II. In a career that spanned a quarter of a century, Harvey appeared in stage, film and television productions primarily in the United Kingdom and the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tom Courtenay</span> British actor

Sir Thomas Daniel Courtenay is an English actor. After studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Courtenay achieved prominence in the 1960s with a series of acclaimed film roles, including The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)⁠, for which he received the BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles⁠, and Doctor Zhivago (1965), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Other notable film roles during this period include Billy Liar (1963), King and Country (1964), for which he was awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival, King Rat (1965), and The Night of the Generals (1967). More recently, he received critical acclaim for his performance in Andrew Haigh's film 45 Years (2015).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mia Farrow</span> American actress

Maria de Lourdes Villiers "Mia" Farrow is an American actress. She first gained notice for her role as Allison MacKenzie in the television soap opera Peyton Place and gained further recognition for her subsequent short-lived marriage to Frank Sinatra. An early film role, as Rosemary in Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968), saw her nominated for a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. She went on to appear in several films throughout the 1970s, such as Follow Me! (1972), The Great Gatsby (1974), and Death on the Nile (1978). Her younger sister is Prudence Farrow.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anthony Mann</span> American film director

Anthony Mann was an American film director and stage actor.

<i>Gotcha!</i> (film) 1985 comedy-action film by Jeff Kanew

Gotcha! is a 1985 American action comedy film, starring Anthony Edwards and Linda Fiorentino and directed by Jeff Kanew, who also directed Edwards in Revenge of the Nerds in 1984.

<i>T-Men</i> 1947 film by Anthony Mann

T-Men is a 1947 semidocumentary and police procedural style film noir about United States Treasury agents. The film was directed by Anthony Mann and shot by noted noir cameraman John Alton. The production features Dennis O'Keefe, Mary Meade, Alfred Ryder, Wallace Ford, June Lockhart and Charles McGraw. A year later, director Mann used the film's male lead, Dennis O'Keefe, in Raw Deal.

<i>Infinity</i> (film) 1996 American film

Infinity is a 1996 American biographical drama film about the romantic life of physicist Richard Feynman. Feynman was played by Matthew Broderick, who also directed and co-produced the film. Broderick's mother, Patricia Broderick, wrote the screenplay, which was based on the books Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?, both written by Feynman and Ralph Leighton. It is the only film Broderick has ever directed.

<i>Otley</i> (film) 1969 British film

Otley is a 1968 British comedy thriller film, starring Tom Courtenay and Romy Schneider. It was adapted by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais from a book by Martin Waddell, and released by Columbia Pictures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Derek Marlowe</span> English author, playwright, screenwriter (1938–1996)

Derek William Mario Marlowe was an English playwright, novelist, screenwriter and painter.

<i>The Spy Who Came In from the Cold</i> (film) 1965 film by Martin Ritt, Paul Dehn, Guy Trosper

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is a 1965 British Cold War spy film based on the 1963 novel of the same name by John le Carré. The film stars Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, and Oskar Werner. It was directed by Martin Ritt, and the screenplay was written by Paul Dehn and Guy Trosper.

<i>Avalanche Express</i> 1979 film

Avalanche Express is a 1979 Cold War adventure thriller film starring Lee Marvin, Robert Shaw, Maximilian Schell, and Linda Evans and produced and directed by Mark Robson. The plot is about the struggle over a defecting Soviet general. The screenplay by Abraham Polonsky was based on a 1977 novel by Colin Forbes. It was the last film for both Shaw and Robson, who each died in 1978.

<i>The Two-Headed Spy</i> 1958 film by André de Toth

The Two-Headed Spy is a 1958 British spy thriller film directed by Andre DeToth and starring Jack Hawkins, Gia Scala, Erik Schumann and Alexander Knox. The film, which has elements of film noir and is set in the Second World War, was based on a story by J. Alvin Kugelmass called Britain's Two-Headed Spy and is notable for having been scripted by blacklisted writers.

<i>The Nightcomers</i> 1971 British film

The Nightcomers is a 1971 British horror film directed by Michael Winner and starring Marlon Brando, Stephanie Beacham, Thora Hird, Harry Andrews and Anna Palk. It is a prequel to Henry James' 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw, which had already been adapted into the 1961 film The Innocents. The manor house in the film is Sawston Hall, a 16th-century Tudor manor house in Sawston, Cambridgeshire.

<i>The Spy with a Cold Nose</i> 1966 British film

The Spy with a Cold Nose is a 1966 British comedy film directed by Daniel Petrie and starring Laurence Harvey, Daliah Lavi, Lionel Jeffries, Denholm Elliott, and Colin Blakely. The film was nominated for Golden Globe Awards in the Best English-Language Foreign Film and Lionel Jeffries in the Best Performance in a Comedy or Musical category.

<i>The Scarlet Hour</i> 1956 film by Michael Curtiz

The Scarlet Hour is a 1956 American film noir crime film directed and produced by Michael Curtiz, previously director of such noted films as Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy and White Christmas.

<i>The Executioner</i> (1970 film) 1970 British film directed by Sam Wanamaker

The Executioner is a 1970 British cold war neo noir spy thriller film directed by Sam Wanamaker in Panavision and starring George Peppard as secret agent John Shay who suspects his colleague Adam Booth, played by Keith Michell, is a double agent. In the film, Peppard's character tries to prove the double role of his colleague to his spy-masters and when he fails to do so he kills him. It was produced by Charles H. Schneer for Columbia Pictures and filmed in Panavision and Eastmancolor.

<i>Bridge of Spies</i> (film) 2015 film by Steven Spielberg

Bridge of Spies is a 2015 historical drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, written by Matt Charman and the Coen brothers, and starring Tom Hanks in the lead role, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda. Set during the Cold War, the film tells the story of lawyer James B. Donovan, who is entrusted with negotiating the release of Francis Gary Powers—a U.S. Air Force convicted pilot whose U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960—in exchange for Rudolf Abel, a convicted Soviet KGB spy held by the United States, whom Donovan represented at trial. The name of the film refers to the Glienicke Bridge, which connects Potsdam with Berlin, where the prisoner exchange took place. The film was an international co-production of the United States and Germany.

<i>Homer</i> (film) 1970 film

Homer is a 1970 Canadian-American drama film directed by John Trent and starring Don Scardino, Tisa Farrow and Alex Nicol.

<i>Apprentice to Murder</i> 1988 film

Apprentice to Murder is a 1988 thriller film directed by Ralph L. Thomas and starring Donald Sutherland, Chad Lowe and Mia Sara.


  1. Spicer, Andrew (2010). Historical Dictionary of Film Noir. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. p. 427. ISBN   978-0-8108-5960-9.
  2. "A Dandy In Aspic". Library of Congress.
  3. "A Dandy In Aspic". Library of Congress.
  4. Adler, Renata. "Screen: Harvey Plays a Deadpan 'Dandy in Aspic'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  5. Variety staff. "A Dandy in Aspic". Variety. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  6. Maltin, Leonard (2015). Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide (2015 ed.). New York: Penguin Random House. p. 316. ISBN   9780451468499.
  7. "A Dandy in Aspic". Time Out. Retrieved 3 April 2020.