Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Black Windmill

I have watched two other films over past couple of days staying up longer that I needed or wanted to do so. The first was the 1974 thriller (!) with Michael Caine called The Black Windmill. I have a family interest in Windmills and the work of Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings in this respect.

Michael Caine plays Michael Caine as an individualistic law unto himself MI6 operative working to uncover an international arms syndicate known to be providing terrorists with weapons in Northern Ireland. His contact is a woman who is believed to be associated with the head of the organization. Caine is required by his boss, played by Donald Pleasance, to attend a meeting of the intelligence committee at the county house home of the head of service Sir Edward Julyan to give a progress report on his mission. While there he is contacted by his wife from whom he is separated to say that their son is missing from school with another boy and she is has been contacted by someone who will wring back that afternoon and expressed a wish to have phone contact with him.

The film has commenced with the two boys flying a model plane given by Caine as a present. The location is an abandoned base when they are taken into custody by two men in RAF uniform. When the kidnapper contacts, under the name of Drable the presence of Caine’s immediate boss is requested and in the subsequent conversation the kidnapper shows knowledge of the acquisition of half a million pounds of uncut diamonds which is demanded as ransom for release of the son. This information known only to Pleasance and other members of the Intelligence committee indicates inside information and the service understandably suspects Caine, a major flaw in the story because in the film Caine only learns of the purchase of the diamonds when attending the meeting at which he is notified of the disappearance of his son.

He subsequently contacted and told to take the diamonds to Paris and wait at a café where he will be contacted. He is also contacted when Pleasance is present and although Caine is again told to take the diamonds to Paris the location is a different one. This does not make any difference because the head of service has already told Pleasance that the government will not allow the diamonds to be used in this way. Pleasance then appears to allow Caine to obtain the deposit key from his office during lunchtime and Caine imitates the voice of his boss to get the bank to give him access to the box at the bank. In the meantime Caine has been framed for the kidnapping with false passports and a photograph of the woman contact of her naked on the bed of his bachelor flat.

In Paris he is met by the same woman who demands that he hands over the diamonds and tells him that when he has done the boy will be released from the Black Windmill location in England. Caine manages to get the woman to return to where her boss is waiting but his plan to force the first release his son backfires literally. Earlier Pleasance, with Bond films in mind, is seen at the special weapons development centre with a leather brief case which contains a once firing weapon without affecting any contents. Caine takes one of these cases from the office of his boss to transport the diamonds to Paris and to force the kidnap boss to reveal his son but the plan is thwarted and the boss escapes leaving Caine unconscious and to wake up in the same room as the murdered female contact who has served her purpose. Pleasance goes to Paris with other British security and Police to bring Caine back to the UK but the vehicle is hijacked with an attempt made to kill Caine, who escapes, returns to the UK and makes contact with his wife meeting up at the Dominion Theatre in the Tottenham Court Road where he arranges for her to try and locate the whereabouts of the Black Windmill, hence the visit to the offices of SPAB. Having done this, Caine contacts all the members of the Intelligence Committee, pretending to be Drable, announcing that he has escaped and on his way to the Windmill. Caine lies in wait and finds that the traitor is the head of the service who is retiring on official pension and with a wife with expensive tastes, cooked up the kidnap plot to add to his retirement fund. Caine rescues his son and make his way to wife with whom he has become reconciled. His wife is played by the actor Janet Suzman. As with several Caine films of this era it never rises above that of a B picture.

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