Mister Jerico (1970)

Mister Jerico

mister-jerico-movie-poster-1970-1020363566

Following the conclusion of The Avengers in 1969, a number of the cast and crew decided it was a good idea to take themselves off to the sea and sand and make a movie. The result was Mister Jerico, intended as a TV pilot that never got off the ground. It was released theatrically in the United Kingdom, and then as a TV movie in the U.S.

Patrick Macnee is Dudley Jerico – whose theme song leaves a little to be desired – a thief/con-man (with scruples) out to con a nasty millionaire Russo (played by the always nasty, always enjoyable Herbert Lom) out of a few million dollars. Jerico’s pal Wally (Marty Allen) helps with the endeavor – and there is of course the lovely Susan Grey (Connie Stevens), Russo’s secretary and Dudley’s love interest. Things get complicated when a mysterious French woman pops up trying to pull the same caper, involving the theft and sale of a rare diamond.

Mister Jerico is one of those charming and fluffy capers that the 1960s did well, quite similar to the higher- budgeted Gambit or How to Steal a Million. The palette is sun-soaked, the plot buoyant and just this side of ridiculous. The second half of the film in particular moves along at a nice pace, complicating matters without making anything seem too serious. If you think too deeply about the story, it will all appear very nonsensical, but this is a stylized caper film not intended for deeper scrutiny. It’s a surface film and as such it’s quite enjoyable.

macnee-stevens-jerico

Patrick Macnee is a likable screen presence and good light comedian, playing Jerico with the same dash of wit and energy that he possessed as John Steed. He’s a somewhat limited actor, but works within those limitations to create a charming, erudite con man.  His wardrobe is also nothing short of spectacular – if that’s the word for it – with bright prints, flashy trousers, and a blue velvet fedora that Superfly would be proud of. Herbert Lom is an excellent counterpoint: a sharp, venal heavy, who fully deserves anything the cons can throw at him.

Connie Stevens meanwhile seems a touch out of place as Susan. While she and Macnee have heat, her somewhat breathy line delivery and slight air-headedness don’t quite gel with her role, which becomes more complex  as the film goes on. Still, she’s not an uninteresting leading lady, though I could name about ten actresses that might have played the light part with a bit more depth.

Mister Jerico is the height of 1960s silliness, and as long as one expects nothing more it makes for a diverting few hours. While I understand why it was never picked up as a pilot, it’s no less ridiculous than The PrisonerThe Persuaders, or any other stylized TV show from the same period. I have a soft spot for stylized films – all the more so if they happen to feature actors and actresses I enjoy. While not quite high camp, Mister Jerico is a lot of fun.

Author: Lauren

Lauren Humphries-Brooks is a writer, editor, and media journalist. She holds a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from New York University, and in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. She regularly contributes to film and pop culture websites, and has written extensively on Classical Hollywood, British horror films, and the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres. She currently works as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader.

Argue With Me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s