The Spy With a Cold Nose
Arrow, London, 1967
The blurb on the back:
This story tells how an eminent veterinary surgeon, whose devotion to animals is perhaps exceeded by the attentions he lavishes on their female owners, is blackmailed into co-operating in a crazy scheme involving British intelligence, a bulldog, the Soviet Prime Minister the voluptuously seductive Princess Natasaha Romanova…
Well, it’s a decent enough movie: it’s a James Bond spoof typical of its period (1966), it has a cast list crammed full of great British actors – Laurence Harvey, Eric Sykes, Denholm Elliott, Eric Portman, June Whitfield, Lionel Jeffries – and it has a screenplay by Galton & Simpson. What more could one ask? Well, nothing much if you’re after a pleasant hour-and-a-half on a Sunday afternoon. But as a book? Is it worth reading? Er, no, not really.
Galton & Simpson were at their best writing half-hour sitcoms for Tony Hancock and the Steptoes. Their films, starting with The Rebel, were more patchy but still entertaining. The real problem lay in the fact that, however wonderful they were as writers, they did need actors to bring the words to life. On the page, their style is too stilted, too determined by its dramatic roots, to convince fully. So you end up with a book like this: perfectly okay, just not something you’d want to spend a great deal of time on. So I sha’n’t.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 3/5