Secret agents get a bad rap most of the time. The nature of their business requires them to engage in all manner of morally questionable conduct. From the good old fashioned lies they have to tell even their loved ones to the random women they have to bed to maintain their cover as an international playboy to the nonstop murders they must commit in order to bring down whatever colorful evil mastermind is threatening American hegemony that week, it’s easy to lump them in with other terrible people such as bankers, politicians and soccer fans.
So when one of them demonstrates the humanity of a Ghandi or Dali Lama we should salute them. So I tip my cap to you Agent 3S3 for confirming that the woman you were assigned to screw information out of was not underage!
But don’t let 3S3’s concern for international statutory rape law make you believe for one second that this is some sort of goody two shoes spy who spends his time carding his conquests and ordering Shirley Temples. When presented with incontrovertible evidence that a woman is old enough to show her who the real man with the golden gun is, 3S3 isn’t going to let an ongoing investigation into an international terror organization get in the way of some prime 1960s tail.
The woman whose house he ducked into to hide from his pursuers during one particularly heated battle? Banged her as soon as they left! And then got dressed in her husband’s clothes and took her husband’s speedboat! The name’s Schlong. James Schlong.
Agent 3S3 (his name is Walter Ross so obviously I’ll be referring to him as Agent 3S3) gets the most important assignment of his career! An assignment so urgent even the Soviets provided a little info because this isn’t one of these Cold War East vs. West deals. If only it were that simple!
No, this is one of our own gone bad! The best spy we ever had, Mr. A. has opened up his own shop called… The Organization! And he and his crew do spy-for-hire gigs or are trying to get rich or take over the world. (I never figured out what they were up to – they spent the whole movie completely flummoxed by a horny guy named Walter.)
The Organization did start off strong by killing a girl for some microfilm, but really tailed off the rest of the way, using its vast powers and resources to launch increasingly moronic schemes to eliminate Agent 3S3 before he could find Mr. A. There was the time they tried killing 3S3 by running his embarrassingly beat up VW Bug off a snow covered road, but 3S3 bailed out in the nick of time. Then there was the painfully convoluted plan to use Mr. A.’s daughter Jasmine to kill both him and her which resulted not only in the deaths of a number of Organization members, but also the movie’s funniest moment.
While staking out Jasmine’s house waiting for 3S3 to show up for his date, one of the bad guys whines about 3S3 being late before he finally arrives in a cab. Yeah, he’s late because he doesn’t have a car anymore thanks to you! This is Bond on a budget. He has exactly one lame gadget – an ugly broach with a tracking device that he can track using a large pair of sunglasses. There sure as hell aren’t any extra Aston Martins in the 3S3 garage.
Agent 3S3: Passport to Hell is one of many Eurospy films made in the early to mid 1960s following the success of the first few Bond movies and it does a decent job of presenting a stripped down version of those films. There are locations that at least appear exotic to American audiences (Austria and Beirut), but the villains are forgettably bland and the action generally involves guys chasing and fighting each other. 3S3 also has a local intelligence officer he teams up with and there’s even a big henchman who is obviously an uninspired nod to Oddjob.
The story doesn’t attempt much beyond 3S3’s pursuit of Mr. A. though there is a nice twist near the end of the film that would have been more effective if it hadn’t been needlessly telegraphed by a character earlier. This twist does at least explain why the death of Jasmine was ordered which seemed completely absurd at the time.
George Ardisson is fine as your proxy Bond, bringing his high energy brand of judo to various brawls he gets mixed up throughout the film. While I can’t say the I was ever moved enough by his acting or character to actually root for him, he at least didn’t do anything to make me dislike him. No one else (including the sexy good woman and the sexy evil woman) does anything memorable. Still it was a time when competent knock offs of popular movies were needed to fill drive-ins and TV slots around the world and so it isn’t too surprising that Sergio Sollima’s well-paced effort found itself with a sequel in next year’s Agent 3S3: Massacre in the Sun which smartly dialed up the goofy spy insanity a bit.
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