Agent For H.A.R.M. (1966) August 01, 2016 08:00
Sometimes campy get's a bad rap. Obviously it seems there's a fine line between satisfying and over indulgent, and when it comes to how much it takes to cross that line seemingly depends on the person. Or maybe B-movies and international knock-offs have finally brain washed me into losing my mind. Whichever it may be I must say I was shocked to learn that my latest foray into the filmography of the lovely Barbara Bouchet, Agent for H.A.R.M., had received a measly 1.9 rating on IMDb.com and a lot of poor reviews. As for me this film was not only the most entertaining of the early Bouchet films I've watched thus far, but also one of the most enjoyable American campy spy films and mildly reminiscent of the international Euro-spy genre.
Peter Mark Richman is H.A.R.M secret agent Adam Chance (think an aging version of Maroon 5 front-man Adam Levine with a little dab of grey in the front, a la reverse Jay Leno). He's all set for a hot night out on the town when he's called in on an emergency mission. Word has gotten out that a defected Russian, Professor Stefanik, has developed a bacteria spore that literally consumes the body, and he's developed a gun that fires it! Its also come to their attention that the scientist is in the process of creating an antidote to protect those who might use the weapon on the United States from the effects of the spore. If this technology falls into the hands of the enemy it could be the end of the United States!
There's no getting around the fact that Agent for H.A.R.M. is awfully campy, there isn't anything about the film that isn't, and that's probably why the film received the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. But for me it all works because the level of camp is consistent, it's not overwhelming, and it's really nothing worse than what you'd see in most of the popular TV shows of the 60's like Get Smart or Man From U.N.C.L.E. In fact Agent for H.A.R.M. was originally put together as a pilot for a TV series, things obviously didn't pan out in terms of that becoming a reality so it was turned into a movie.
Of course if it hadn't been for the lovely Barbara Bouchet, I never would had hunted down this rare gem. Bouchet has her first real large co-starring role here as Ava Vestok, the supposed long lost niece of Professor Stefanik whom Adam Chance has been sent to protect to prevent his spore from landing into enemy hands. Up to this point Bouchet has been limited to non-credited extra work and a very brief part in the opening of In Harm's Way where her character is quickly killed off.
Here Bouchet gets a modest co-starring role as a lovely Russian girl with a secret agenda, multiple bikini clad moments and a few archery scenes. Bouchet in a bikini, shooting a bow and arrow, come on, that should warrant a 5.0 rating on IMDb.com alone! Agent for H.A.R.M. also kick starts her spy genre roles, soon after she has a guest appearance on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (which was obviously some inspiration to this film), the James Bond film spoof of Casino Royale, and Danger Route.
Overall, Agent for H.A.R.M. is the quintessential film for any fan of the early career of Barbara Bouchet and an extremely underrated one in the genre of knock-off James Bond films. If you can enjoy its overly quirky cornball quality, its style and the era it was made in, Agent for H.A.R.M. can be a thoroughly enjoyable film. One that's enjoyable on it's own merit and not with the help of some wise cracking robots.