TV Cream

Films: L is for...

List of Adrian Messenger, The

Extremely odd late-period John Houston mystery, with MI5 operative George C Scott investigating the titular list of recently-assassinated individuals with the help of Kirk Douglas, some intrusive vocal dubbing by Rich ‘Pink Panther’ Little, and some rather slack technical photography. Not great or bad, but the only thing this film is remembered for is its zany disguise gimmick, whereby Kirk (playing a Master of Disguise) physically stops the end credits (something we always like to see) before revealing several famous ‘cameos’ that appeared in the course of the film (we won’t spoil them for you, but legend has it the stars in question weren’t actually present for the film proper at all) and various extra-curricular roles Douglas himself took on (watch for a ‘Mr. Pythian’) – all revealed in time-honoured Kenny Everett tradition by ripping off latex noses and chins and delivering a cheeky “it was me all the time!” wink to the camera. Not exactly The Dead, then.



  1. George White

    October 15, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    MItchum as a wheelchair-bound London Irish newsagent flogging Rolos up there with Spacey in Ordinary Decent Criminal, Beanie Feldstein as Caitlin Moran, JOsh Hartnett in Blow Dry, Rod Steiger in the Mark/THree into Two Won’t Go/Hennessy…

    • THX 1139

      October 15, 2021 at 11:26 pm

      Mr Steiger’s co-star in Hennessey was HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Stuff that, Daniel Craig!

  2. Sidney Balmoral James

    October 15, 2021 at 5:09 pm

    SPOILER ALERT: an enjoyable farrago (see also The Mackintosh Man) – I believe that for some reason, rather than get Kirk made up in his various disguises, they hired an actor to pretend to be Kirk. Also, I’m pretty sure it’s not Burt Lancaster in the fox hunting scene in drag (it looks to me like a real woman), and when he takes of his disguise it looks like it was filmed elsewhere. Mitchum is not very heavily disguised at all, but at least has a proper part: Tony Curtis and Frank Sinatra are in very briefly under rubber masks. A genuine oddity (of which Huston made a few, Beat the Devil, The Bible, Phobia)

  3. THX 1139

    October 15, 2021 at 11:28 pm

    Apparently the only reason Huston made this is because he was fascinated by fox hunting and wanted to have a go himself.

  4. George White

    October 16, 2021 at 7:57 am

    It is an actual cis woman as Lancaster. The irish actress Marie Conmee, then in her late twenties in unconvincing age makeup. The Lancaster changing scene – he’s in a completely different costume and hairstyle.

    Sinatra was doubled by Dave Willock.
    I don’t think it’s Curtis either.
    MItchum’s the only one bar Douglas in the climax, to actually be in the film itself. And obviously enjoying himself.

    The Mackintosh Man I find fun, a because my grandad is somewhere in it, and b. it’s a time capsule of Ireland in the 70s.

    • George White

      November 8, 2023 at 6:30 pm

      Also Mackintosh Man weirdly one of the rare films to be turned into a TV series by the BBC. The prequel rights to Running Blind, the previous book in the series were taken by BBC Scotland who made a 1978TV series with Stuart Wilson. The carryover character of Soviet spy Slade, previously Ian Bannen was now George Sewell, and later series with the lead characters, initially played by Stuart Wilson and Heida Steindortsdottir were renamed and rewritten as the Assassination Run and the Treachery Game when Steindortsdottir couldn’t get an Equity card so Mary Tamm replaced her, Wilson dropping out and Malcolm Stoddard stepping in.

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