19 MARCH 1965, Page 21



The Iperess File. (Leicester Square Theatre; 'A' certificate.) T. HERE'S a noseyness in most of us that makes the hard facts of other people's lives im- mensely interesting, and by facts I naturally mean artefacts as well. Sidney Furie is very good on the objects of present-day life and his vividly shown 'things' are something of a screen equivalent to 'brand-name' fiction, in which State Express (say) is used as an adjective intensely (though narrowly) evocative, to describe a love affair. The hero of The Iperess File is first shown getting up in the morning and we peer with nosey Conviction at the way he crunches his coffee beans UP beside the Len Deighton cookstrip on the kitchen wall. Len Deighton being the author of the book the film is based on, there's not sur- prisingly a lot of photogenic cookery around.

The Iperess File is a thriller set in a recog- nisable London where espionage is a seedy business conducted, not by impregnable Bonds, but by men as scared and venal as anyone else. The hero is a dapper, bespectacled Cockney with the current bachelor neatness and a passion for cooking; he has been blackmailed into spying With the threat of gaol for some shady post-war business in Germany; his colleagues are unnotice- able men in raincoats and his two bosses have raised nastiness to almost unimaginable heights. There are forms to fill in after every adventure. Sleuthing in the Science Museum, fights near the Albert Hall, rendezvous feeding the ducks in St. James's Park—Mr. Furie's bright, topo- graphically-minded, atmospheric eye makes it all both Londonish and exotic, just as he makes the office routine of form and chit and allowance and pay-rise (to pay, of course, for an infra-red grill) seem piquantly absurd considering the lives and risks and far-fetched mysteries involved.

. Thrillers Are hard to keep balanced between 'act and fantasy, lightness and solemnity, cruelty and jokes. Dealing as they do with life, death and the basic loyalties, they seem to invite por- I,entousness. Mr. Furie has been deft enough to 'iceep The 1peress File light but not silly, credible but not painful, and above all to keep the tension ttn. Where I think he fails is in being too explicit 'bout the techniques of brain-washing, in making 4 watch the disintegration of personality through "hat, 1 thought at first was electric shocks and !nrneone else assured me was merely optical Illusions. Which of us was right I still don't know, but I know Mr. Furie was wrong to arouse such 'fluxional and aesthetic confusion. But that's a small thing beside the neat, amusing, unpreten- ftusly satisfactory rest of it.