In 1962 Terence Young had the opportunity to direct a little film called Doctor No. He'd return to the franchise in '63 with From Russia with Love, and once again in '65 with Thunderball. The franchise had treated him well.
There was only one problem.
Sean Connery was not Bond, at least not for Terence Young.
James Bond to Terence was a man named Richard Johnson, and they were going to show the world the gospel truth.
So lacking the rights to make a James Bond film, they acquired the rights to Bulldog Drummond, a popular character of the time written by H.C. McNeile.
And they were going to out-Bond Bond.
The film opens with a set piece, involving air hostesses, exploding cigars, parachutes, harpoons and bathing suits before introducing to us to good old Bulldog Drummond in the most sixties judotastic way possible.
It's a lot of fun.
Bond was a lot of fun too, but there was always an undercurrent of disturbing misogyny which ran deep and intrinsic to the franchise. One could argue Deadlier than the Male trips up on some of the same issues, but I would have to disagree.
Firstly Drummond is not a womaniser, or at least not in the same way as Bond is. One telling scene involving Brenda (Virginia North just off Romeo and Juliet) Drummond's nephew's young squeeze. She, obviously attracted to the older Drummond tries to manipulate him into going to bed with her. Drummond plays along until the last moment and then scarpers off mischievously. He uses a similar tactic towards the end in a similar situation with Irma, one of the female assassins.
Secondly, those assassins. They really drive the whole narrative, and they don't need a man to do it. Yes there is Weston/Carl Petersen, who apparently is pulling all the strings, but he's hardly a fearful villain. Rather these sexy and terrifying ladies are the real villainous pull.
The men rarely have the power in this film, even if they think they do, and that's why this film out-Bond's Bond.
Believe me or not, this is a better Bond film than most Bond films. Especially the newer Drab-iel Craig outings. Give it a go, I promise, it's at least fun.