Monday 21 June 2010

Something from the picture archive - The IPCRESS File

I've recently acquired a nice original publicity photo from Universal Studio's production of The IPCRESS File in 1965. This black & white still is instantly recognisable: it's an on-location image of Len Deighton demonstrating to Michael Caine - playing the character who became 'Harry Palmer' - the technique for making an omelette.

The omelette in the film becomes part of 'Harry's' seduction technique on his gorgeous fellow agent Jean, played by Sue Lloyd.

The anecdote associated with this image is pretty well known. In the film, the character of Palmer is show preparing the omelette, and a close-up shot is used of him breaking eggs into a bowl using only one hand. In fact - as this picture indicates - Deighton was on set for this cooking scene and it is his hand which deftly cracks the eggs into the bowl. Caine, by all accounts, couldn't do this correctly!

As the blurb on the back of the publicity photos confirms, even this early in his career as a writer Deighton was equally as well known for being a food writer and cookery expert as he was a writer of espionage thrillers: his Action Cook Book came out in 1965 (and was subsequently re-issued in 2009 by Harper Collins).

What is of course fascinating is how archaic the dissemination of publicity information and images in advance of a film's release seems to our modern eyes. In many ways, however, film publicity is still the same - get the trailer out to build anticipation, set up interviews for the stars with key media, generate maximum publicity from the premiere. What was missing back in the sixties was any notion of social networking, word of mouth, viral marketing.

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