July 17, 2009

ffolkes (1980)

LAST DECEMBER, there was a great article by Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty about Roger Moore, where Nashawaty mentions how people his age (children of the ‘70s, including yours truly) see Moore as the James Bond. Sure, we go back and watch Sean Connery’s Bond films out of obligation, but Moore will always be 007 for our generation.

Which makes ffolkes – and Moore in the title role – so refreshing to watch…

Plot:
• On the North Sea, a team of terrorists led by Lou Kramer (Anthony Perkins) hijacks the Norwegian ship Esther and two British oil platforms, Ruth and Jennifer – planting bombs on all three.
• Kramer then anchors Esther next to Jennifer and tells Jennifer’s commander his demands: The British government must pay him £25 million in five different currencies (“the money market is so unstable these days,” he quips). If he doesn’t get the money in 24 hours, he blows up Ruth. Four hours after that, he blows up Jennifer.
• The British military can’t get close to Ester, Ruth, or Jennifer without Kramer’s team getting wise, so they call on Rufus Excalibur ffolkes (Moore) – leader of an elite special-ops team who’s also an eccentric, cat-loving misogynist.

Critique:
Rumor has it Moore felt he was miscast as ffolkes, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s deliciously perfect as the dapper, egocentric ffolkes, and it’s fun to watch him in a decidedly different role from his then-current James Bond gig (he shot ffolkes between Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only). He fires off commanding dialogue from a script by Jack Davies (adapting his own novel), featuring several great zingers you’ll be repeating to yourself for days.
Perkins is highly effective as head terrorist Kramer – starting as a bold, emotionless villain who slowly unravels as the standoff drags out. Veteran James Mason also appears in a supporting role as an apprehensive admiral of the British Royal Navy who goes along with ffolkes’ plan of attack.
• Some of Michael J. Lewis’ musical score is a bit overdramatic, but nothing that gets in the way of enjoying the film.

In Moore’s autobiography, he dedicates a few pages to filming ffolkes – talking about how Perkins was a walking encyclopedia of film knowledge, and relaying a funny anecdote about the film crew trying to sedate the overly frisky cats without cat-lover Mason finding out.

Bottom line: ffolkes is a unique, overlooked little gem. I highly recommend seeking it out.

aka North Sea Hijack.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Will your kids want to watch it?
I highly doubt your children have ever heard of ffolkes, but when you watch it, do so without young kids in the room. Though ffolkes is largely bloodless, people are shot, poisoned, harpooned, and thrown overboard. Also, a terrorist tries to get frisky with a female hostage.

Will your FilmMother like it?
ffolkes has more of a “guy” feel to it, and Moore’s title character is quite the he-man woman-hater. Though if she likes characters who like cats, maybe she’ll give it a chance.

That pizza should've been here by now...

ffolkes
• Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
• Screenwriter: Jack Davies
• Stars: Roger Moore, Anthony Perkins, James Mason, Michael Parks, David Hedison, Jack Watson
• MPAA Rating: PG


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5 comments:

Jim @ CoolStuffForDads.com said...

I remember this one, I think I caught it on one of the movie channels growing up (probably a few times). And I remember liking it. Moore and Perkins were good in this movie.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Never heard of it, but it sounds good.

And yes, Roger will always be '007' to Seattledad.

Keith said...

I've never seen it or even heard of it. Sounds cool though.

Retro Hound said...

Seems like I've watched this, but maybe it was on HBO and I wanted to watch it. I sure don't remember it from the description.

rob! said...

My Dad took me and my sister to see this when I was about nine or ten, I remember it being pretty good. This makes me want to see it again!

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