Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Adventurer (1972) episode 11: Has Anyone Here Seen Kelly

Those mischievous makers of The Adventurer are at it again, pulling the same trick they did in Episode One by beginning with an action packed scene, only to then reveal it to be just part of a movie that Gene is shooting. The filming of the latest Gene Bradley epic ‘Countdown’ isn’t going so smoothly due to Gene’s scatter-brained female co-star who accidentally hits him with a fake chair during an action scene. “Honey, you’re supposed to hit him with the chair not me”. Take two goes no better when she very nearly hits Gene with a real chair this time. Gene and the film’s director however take it all in their stride, the director calls her ‘doll face’ and Gene kisses her on the forehead then knowingly refers to her as the director’s ‘protégé’.

Can you imagine though if an actress had actually hit Gene with a chair during the making of The Adventurer? For one I can’t imagine it would have been by accident, and my suspicions are that he wouldn’t have been quite as forgiving about it in real life. In fact according to an actress who had a small role in another Adventurer episode Gene wouldn’t even speak to her on the set, as extras and minor actors weren’t ‘important’ enough for the great Gene to engage in conversation.

Lessons we therefore can learn from Gene’s onscreen and offscreen behaviour then are that women are good for calling ‘doll face’ and kissing on the forehead but don’t let those dames near anything ‘manly’ like action scenes, otherwise they’ll pose a danger to themselves and others. We can also learn that minor actresses aren’t worth talking to, and if they have larger roles in movies its likely due to them putting out to film directors.

Having sufficiently offended every actress working at the time, this episode then gets down to the business of the missing ‘Kelly’ of the title. Namely, Mike Kelly (Rio Fanning) a pal of Gene’s who has failed to keep an appointment with him whilst Gene is shooting his latest movie in Switzerland. Further attempts to get in touch with Kelly come to nothing and Gene is so concerned that he decides to take a break from making the movie and wanders off to Geneva to find Kelly. A turn of events that surprisingly doesn’t appear to bother the director of the movie, who is suddenly without his lead actor. Then again I suppose he can always pass the time by hitting up his ‘protégé’ for further sexual favours, so that might explain his rather blasé attitude to this situation.

Gene is rather jet-lagged and confused looking in this episode. At one point he spills some ice all over a drink’s cabinet, while in another scene he accidentally kicks over a bucket and then picks up two telephone receivers at the same time, despite the fact that neither phone is actually ringing. Admittedly some of this- such as the bucket scene- looks scripted, but at other times it just feels like director Val Guest was playing Dr ‘Frankenstein’ Logan to Gene’s Bub and letting him play around with all these props to see how he would respond to them.

“Say hello to your Aunt Alicia”

While Gene isn’t at the top of his game here, the supporting cast are your typical Val Guest ensemble of veteran actors playing comedy bit parts (Norman Chappell, Eric Pohlmann), young actors getting some screen exposure as villains (Sandor Eles, Christopher Sandford) and of course it wouldn’t be a Val Guest episode without some female glamour to hand. This week’s ‘guest totty’ being Anouska Hempel, playing a mystery woman who has taken up residence in Mike Kelly’s apartment yet claims to have never heard of the man. On a roll this week when it comes to patronising women, Gene insists on slowly spelling out his friend’s name to her “K-E-double L-Y” because y’know women sometimes have difficulty understanding long, complicated words like ‘Kelly’. Gene soon redeems himself though by throwing together a cocktail in her honour. The name of this concoction being ‘The Wet Lady’, which sounds for all the world like a John Lindsay loop, but is so named because she’d just gotten out of the shower when she answered the door to him.

Anouska Hempel was one of three people whose appearance in The Adventurer was preceded by a role in the 1972 movie industry comedy ‘Go for a Take’ (the others being Dennis Price and Debbie Russ). Having gone from playing Norman Rossington’s love interest in Go for a Take to playing Gene’s love interest here, I think it is fair to say that Anouska’s career was definitely on the up. Go For A Take’s portrayal of the British film industry as this tiny hub of activity, with movies being shot side by side, overworked extras being frogmarched from set to set and actors constantly running into each other at movie studios doesn’t feel too detached from reality when you consider that The Adventurer shares three cast members with Go For A Take, at least four cast members and a director with Au Pair Girls, and that soon after appearing in this episode Anouska and Eric Pohlmann would –for their sins- be reunited on screen in Tiffany Jones. The British film industry of 1972 sure looks to have been an extremely small world indeed, and Catherine Schell’s uber-masculine stunt double in episode one of The Adventurer sure validates Go For A Take’s belief that even men who looked like Norman Rossington and Reg Varney could still find work in the industry as stunt doubles for women.

I’m unsure of how tall Anouska Hempel actual is, but I’m guessing not very much, considering that Gene towers over here, even when she is wearing really large shoes. More problematic though was 5’10’’ Sandor Eles, who joins the ever growing ranks of actors who were prevented from standing up when they were sharing the screen with Gene. Which is a little unfortunate considering that Eles plays the main villain of this episode, Gerard Laroche. An arms dealer, Laroche is blackmailing Kelly into piloting a plane to some politically unstable African republic, and is doing his best to prevent Gene from learning about this excursion to Africa. Since Eles, like John Savident before him, is prevented from any physical confrontations with Gene due to his height, the ‘hands on’ villainary is mainly deputised to Christopher Sandford who pursues Gene via helicopter. For some reason this series is quite hung-up on characters using helicopters. Granted, not as much as Chevrolet cars, but enough to make you query whether ITC might have been taking backhanders from a helicopter company in return for all this onscreen promotion, if not they sure missed a trick there.

The manner in which Christopher Sandford gets his ass handed to him by Gene is undoubtedly this episode’s highlight. Gene stops his car in a tunnel, forcing Sandford out of the helicopter and into the tunnel. There Gene hides under the car, then when Sandford is nearby Gene grabs one of his legs which seems to cause Sandford’s entire body to go into a tailspin. At which point Gene charges into Sandford’s midsection like an enraged bull, after which its curtains for Sandford!!

‘Has Anyone Here Seen Kelly’ might well be the booziest episode of The Adventurer on record. Anouska Hempel’s hotel room comes complete with a bar so extensive that even Brandon the Butler would have difficulty finishing it off. Whilst a reunion between Gene and his old Italian drinking buddy Luigi (Eric Pohlmann) feels like an excuse for the two characters to refer to every alcoholic beverage they can think of, with lager, whisky, scorpion cocktails and vodka all receiving name checks. Perhaps the question Gene should be asking is “Has anyone here seen sobriety”. While an unkind soul might suggest that just about every episode of The Adventurer could drive a person to drink, anyone with drinking problems would be wise to skip this particular Gene Bradley outing. What with all the drinks and references to drinking in it, it would be sure to drive them back to the bottle, or at the very least result in them rushing off to mix themselves a ‘Wet Lady’.

Wet Ladies seem to be the last thing on Gene’s mind at the end of this episode though, which sees him skip a booze-up with Luigi and a reunion with Anouska Hempel in favour of cold calling Mr Parminter in the middle of the night and indulging in what could easily be misinterpreted as dirty talk. “Oh Parminter, freshen your whiskers will you, I can’t stand it when you’re messy”. The mental images evoked by that line may well be the worst thing Val Guest ever inflicted on the British public outside of The Boys in Blue.

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