I don't give a damn for Germany, or for England either. Why should I? What have they done for me lately?
Terence Young, riding high off triple Bonds, takes on movie-perfect source material; safe-cracker Eddie Chapman takes a holiday in Jersey following his latest big job, only to be arrested and incarcerated. Luckily for him, then the Germans invade. Not lacking in the confidence department, Chapman offers his services as a spy to the occupying forces. And when he is sent on a mission to England, he does the same for the British.
Plummer embraces this relatively rare chance to play the (anti-) hero, and the screen Chapman is appealingly rakish, and amoral, mostly running rings around his masters on both sides. Strong supporting turns are provided by Gert Froebe (who was not in a Bond directed by Young) and Yul Brunner, and there are some vague attempts to define honorable Germans as opposed to Nazis, with Froebe’s character a policeman first (he informs Chapman that whoever wins the war, there will be a need for police). Claudine Auger (Domino in Thunderball) also appears.
The big problem is Young; this plays more like the flabby and indulgent Thunderball than the tight, economical From Russia With Love. A fire eventually begins to smolder under the proceedings during the last third, in which Chapman is back with the Germans at the behest of the British and the scrutinizing of his activities is on the increase, but by then it’s all a bit late. Young knew the real-life Chapman, the only Briton to be awarded the Iron Cross, but for whatever reason the end result displays no passion for the material. There’s even a sub-Bond theme song played out over the credits.
It can’t be too long before a resourceful producer options Chapman’s story again, though. According to Plummer, Chapman was prevented from being technical advisor on the film because the French authorities wanted to talk to him about an alleged plan to kidnap the Sultan of Morocco.