Rod Taylor plays Boysie Oakes in this James Bond parody. (In fact, it's
based on a novel by John Gardner, who later continued the Bond series of
ON THE SCREEN
During V-E Day celebrations in Paris, Boysie inadvertently saves the
life of Intelligence Major Mostyn (Trevor Howard). Years later, when Mostyn
needs a hatchet man, he signs Oakes into the Secret Service, thinking the
young man is a killing machine.
Boysie's assignment is to liquidate security risks among British intelligence
-- a job that requires a ruthless assassin who can stare calmly into the
face of death.
But Boysie is a mild-mannered fun-seeker who is terrified of airplanes
and couldn't hurt a fly. He winds up hiring a professional killer to do
the dirty work while he zeroes in on his desired target -- Miss MacIntosh
(Jill St. John), Mostyn's personal assistant. They jet down to the Riviera
for a secret romp, but when they arrive in Nice, foreign and friendly agents
plunge Boysie into intrigue.
Forced by circumstances to perform unaccustomed feats of valor -- including
foiling a hijacking -- Boysie, to his own surprise, justifies the expectations
of his benefactor.
Variety magazine summed up "The Liquidator" thusly:
The vulnerable Oakes is played with plenty of charm and
guts by Taylor, though he hardly suggests a character with such fundamental
failings and frailties as Boysie.
Indeed, watching Taylor is a joy. He's not afraid to look foolish, but
his pratfalls are soon followed by demonstration of skill: Strapped into
a contraption that turns him every which way while target-shooting, he manages
to fire a perfect shot (with paint, not bullet) into the back of Mostyn's
skull. Later, an "escape" starts out comically, but it turns serious
soon enough as he teeters on the edge of a cliff, fighting off a bad guy.
Through it all, he maintains something of a bemused demeanor. He's thrust
into a circumstance way above his head, prevails through sly smarts or physical
prowess, only to continue on his seemingly single-minded pursuit of the
BEHIND THE SCENES
Rod's right-hand man during much of the 1960s, Marco Lopez, described
one key scene from "The Liquidator" in which Taylor fights a villain
while his car teeters over the edge of a cliff:
Rod insisted on doing his own stunt fights. This sequence
was shot about six or more times. During the shooting, it began to drizzle,
and Rod was half-way through the scene. He is knocked over the windshield
and is scarcely able to grab a hold of the car. With him doing this stunt
several times and the car beginning to get slippery wet, we became quite
worried because in actuality the car was teetering over a 400-foot fall.
Rod was soon tiring, but luck was with us and we soon had the final shot
-- Rod-Lore fan newsletter, October 1965
A fan contributed another glimpse behind the scenes, this time of the
tense moments as Boysie Oakes realizes he must land a hijacked airplane.
A huge screen was hoisted up beside the plane to give
a background effect of sky. ... Rod took his place at the controls of the
plane, and Jack Cardiff went through the scene with him. ... Two things
surprised me. ... One, the fact that the "plane" would not BE
rocked and Rod would have to act in such a way as to give the impression
that the was being rocked about. And two, there was no strict adherence
to the script and Rod was told to ad lib. It showed what a fine actor Rod
is that he mastered the situation perfectly.
When the director called for silence and the take was
announced, Rod went into action. He conveyed the feeling of panic when
he found he had lost control of the plane. His voice and desperate movements
were in keeping with the reactions of a man in a lurching plane.