A ffolkes hero has the situation all sewn up…
A cat loving, whisky drinking, bearded misogynist and his frogmen take on some terrorists in a North Sea oil rig.
North Sea Hijack (A.K.A. Ffolkes U.S.) 1980-HD Converted Trailer, TheOriginalCamo , http://www.youtube.com
For my third of my 11 part Cinema Shame Movies posts this year, I’ve chosen to review the film North Sea Hijack (1980). This film is also known as ffolkes outside the UK and Assault Force on TV in the United States. The choice of film was decided for me after rewatching this Roger Moore classic 1980s film with Darlin Husband, and us both remembering Moore’s wonderfully eccentric character, Rufus Excalibur ffolkes (small letters intended). As one of the three male acting leads, Moore makes it a must watch movie with dream casting as this bearded, misogynist, counter terrorism expert, Anthony Perkins as a kinda Psycho type terrorist and James Mason as a distinguished English Admiral. And this drama unfolding in the North Sea.
Darlin Husband can impersonate 2 of these 3 fantastic actors, and I’m hoping he’s secretly working on the third. Which makes his ad libbing extra fun, especially for this movie with him parodying Moore one moment and Mason, the next. He had recommended this film to me to review ages ago, yet for some bizarre reason I didn’t add it to my tribute on Moore last year or review it eariler. It’s easily one of Moore’s best not Bond appearances.
Brits of a certain age may recognise it as a firm favourite for Sunday afternoons on British telly in the eighties. In the now halcyon days before the Eastenders omnibus. When we got a now must watch movie, instead of the joys and sorrows of Ian Beale et al. And sadly over here in Finland we don’t have either, “only” 4 or 5 hours of back to back Simpsons episodes in their omnibus edition. On a never-ending loop. Yawn. So at least you Brits only see Enders the once… unless you got all those extra channels. Or the love of your life has had a crush on Ian Beale since the show started 1985, in which case you are in for the long haul. Dont mock it he or she might be out there… there’s Mrs Adam Woodyatt, for starters.
North Sea Hijack starts introducing us to the hero of the movie, Rufus Excalibur ffolkes (Moore), a rather bizarre character. He appears to live alone in a wee castle in Scotland (although the film was made in Ireland). He has the fashion sense of Here’s Wally (with a natty bobble red and white striped hat), a late 1970s Geography Teacher tweed suit complete with elbow patches and your dad’s yellow mac (also circa 1970s). He hates women or his own words “females”, preferring the company of his cats. He also has a liking for a good whisky (straight from the bottle, no glass) and enjoys doing cross stitch And Bond he most definitely isn’t.
And when he’s not looking after his moggies, he’s a respected Counter-terrorism consultant as head honcho to the ffolkes Ffusiliers. These men, he sends as ffolkes’ ffrogmen (so to speak) on a wee underwater training exercise. With ffolkes throwing a few grenades in the water to add to the authenticity of their task. Later he is called to London, for his latest assignment. He has been asked by a large insurance chain to formulate a plan for a situation where the security of their North Sea oil installations is threatened.
On the way to London, ffolkes has to share a carriage with a woman (God forbid), and she ruffles his feathers by smoking in a non smoking carriage. Her husband looking sheepishly on. Whereas in contrast as Moore as Bond would have come out with a suitable pun then bedded her, despite the fact that her husband was there. Here Moore as ffolkes just annoys her so much that she leaves in a huff, but hey he can now do his embroidery in peace. And drink his whiskey (straight from the bottle, of course). So after visiting the London Insurance big wigs, and explaining just exactly just how he would do this job right down to the last detail he returns home to his cats and castle. Job done.
Meanwhile skullduggery is afoot in Norway, and we meet Lou Kramer (Perkins) resplendent in a cable jumper that his mother knitted for him (possibly) and a trench coat (and you thought it was Michael Douglas in Wall Street (1987) that started this 1980s fashion). Included this group of men, is Harold Shulman (Michael Parks), a memorable character who has what looks like huge bottle bottoms for spectacles (and who for some reason reminded me of Penfold in Danger Mouse (1981-1992) but before he was CGIed). With these men and some others boarding a supply ship saying they are The Press. Cue 70s dramatic music.
On being taken to the wheelhouse by the Ship’s Captain, Kramer reveals himself as not a terrorist – but possibly a terrorist with no insight, as he shoots someone within minutes as you do when you are a terrorist – to the crew. He and some of his motley crew hold the crew hostage down below as Kramer takes command in the wheelhouse. With his a threat to blow up an oil rig, if 25 million pounds in cash isn’t handed over in time. It’s noticeable that all the crew are men apart from one woman. All wearing an array of natty 80s jumpers. The crew are held hostage on the lower deck, they come up with plans to overcome the bad guys. But with
Penfold Shulman in their midst, we are unclear of his motives.
Meanwhile, ffolkes is giving his f
rogmen ffusiliers another training exercise on some mock installation. He’s summoned to London by Admiral Francis Brindsen (James Mason). Where (god forbid) the lady Prime Minister – (who so should have been played by Janet Brown, Moore’s co-star in For Your Eyes Only (1981)) is asking for his help in this particular matter relating to British security. And ffolkes heads down to London with him, with his cross stitch and whisky…and there he mansplaines to all, his plan to recover the oil rig. Meanwhile, Kramer orders his frogmen place some mines onto the oil rig,..
This is a real treat of a movie for the three leads. Moore plays fffolkes with relish and you can tell he enjoyed this complete change to his usual charming, ladies man and suave character as Bond and his other more gentlemanly roles. Despite this being an almost James Bond type plot, with ffolkes’ eccentricities added to the mix, Moore played this role with a twinkle in his eye and obviously like to play someone completely out of character for him.
His lines were deliciously conveyed, and his character’s apparent dislike for women convincing with a disparaging, arrogant tone to his voice when speaking to the fairer sex. Yet bizarrely he was respectful when talking to the lady Prime Minister. And despite these apparent misogynist tendencies he made ffolkes a likeable character. Although he looked quite matronly with his embroidery, it simply made him more endearing. Although I’m sure ffolkes may have objected about this particular comment (especially from a woman), it highlighted his loner tendencies with you then picturing him with a log fire, his cats and darning his socks quite happily. And a bottle of whisky by his side.
Mason did what he does best, adding his unique Englishness, gravitas and presence to the movie. Playing the plummy Admiral, his character seemed almost hesitant and more reserved than ffolkes outspoken character. He made him seem almost seemed intimidated by ffolkes character. But the pair had a great comic rapport between them.
As the villain of the piece Perkins, looked surprisingly still as sinister as his other roles – despite his insistance (in his character but almost from Perkins himself) that he was not a terrorist – when in his wooly jumper. Perkins reminded me of Gary Oldman in many of his bad guy roles, almost camping it up as he barked orders at his followers. And it was kind of nice seeing him in this role which although just a wee bit unhinged as many of his characters seem to be, he seemed just as eccentric as ffolkes. This villainous man motivated by money consciously, unlike other characters he’s played where he was driven by his subconscious.
However it really is Moore’s excellent tongue in cheek portrayal in this movie that makes it the most endearing one of his non-James Bond roles. However, there are as well as a number of familiar actors from the James Bond series a number of wee references to his Bond character. There’s more than a few actors from Bond movies making appearances namely David Hedison and George Baker. Added to this with his name spelt with FFO in ffolkes being seen in a mirror as OO7, with the crossed German way of writing this number.
Also, I feel it would be interesting seeing this film remade with ffolkes character played as Bond. Almost like a Mirror Mirror (1967) episode from Star Trek, if this man is the complete opposite to Bond. With Mason as a possible M type character adding to this scenario, it would be interesting if the film would be just as treasured. After all there’s Moore than a mine of puns out there for the taking…
Weeper Rating: 0/10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂10
Hulk Rating: /10
Bonus Trailer: No
This post was submitted as my April Cinema Shame post. Other films with this cast include Roger Moore in The Cannonball Run HERE, about his car and HERE as a main review. Roger Moore is also reviewed in Bullseye, The Man who Haunted Himself, A Princess for Christmas and The James Bond Films HERE in his In Memoriam tribute post. James Mason is written about in my review on North by Northwest and Yellowbeard, Anthony Perkins was written about in Evening Primrose, Murder on the Orient Express and he was written about in my Hitchcock biopic post.