Deadlier Than the Male  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Deadlier Than the Male is a 1967 British action film featuring the character of Bulldog Drummond. It is one of the many take-offs of James Bond produced during the 1960s but based on an established detective fiction hero. Richard Johnson (Terence Young's original preference to play James Bond) stars as Hugh 'Bulldog' Drummond, updated to a suave Korean War veteran now an insurance investigator trailing a pair of sexy assassins (Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina) who kill for sport and profit. Drummond's American nephew, Robert Drummond (Steve Carlson then a Universal Pictures contract star), becomes involved in the intrigue when he comes to visit.

The title is a reference to the 1911 Rudyard Kipling poem "The Female of the Species," which includes the line "The female of the species must be deadlier than the male", and also refers to Sapper's earlier Drummond book The Female of the Species.

The movie poster is slightly misleading; although three other female assassins are featured briefly in the finale, the brunette, Kitty Swan, has a less prominent role in the film but is as prominent as the two leads on poster. Publicity announced the film in December 1964 but it wasn't filmed until 1966.

The film was followed by a sequel Some Girls Do in 1969.


When a top oil executive dies mysteriously aboard his private jet, the company's board suspects foul play and hires Drummond to investigate. Attempts on his own life lead him to believe two lovely females are "hit men" for an international crime syndicate.

Drummond pursues them from foggy London to the sunny Mediterranean, but finds himself trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a diabolical mastermind. It is revealed that Carl Petersen (Nigel Green) is the evil genius behind the assassinations (masquerading as an executive) and that his own assassination was faked. Using two female assassins, Irma (Elke Sommer) and Penelope (Sylva Koscina), Petersen kills anyone who either attempt to uncover his alter ego or block his attempts at making money.

The finale of the movie involves Petersen's attempt at killing King Fedra, who refuses to sell his oil fields. Grace, who unknowingly reveals to Peterson that she is disillusioned with Peterson while talking to Drummond, is unwittingly used to carry a plastic explosive onto the King's yacht. While playing against Petersen in a game of chess that uses giant motorized pieces, Drummond attempts to escape from Petersen's castle where he is a prisoner. In the process, Drummond kills Petersen's bodyguard Chang (Milton Reid) and presumably kills Petersen himself by dropping him down an exploding hole in the chessboard (a different actor portrays the character in the 1969 sequel).

Irma and Penelope, forced to be near Grace on King Fedra's yacht while Drummond tries to find the bomb, escape when one of King Fedra's guard is distracted by Grace's off-screen nudity while Drummond is searching her. After a seemingly successful escape, Irma comments to the other that the bomb was in Grace's hairclip. Penelope is shocked, for she envied Grace's hairclip and replaced it with her own (having been envious of other women's belongings throughout the entire film, using them to the increasing consternation of others). The two assassins are killed instantly when the hairclip explodes, destroying their motorboat.

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