Review: Ffearless, Ffatal, And Ffantastic — Roger Moore Is ‘Ffolkes’

by Rachel Bellwoar

Other actors have played James Bond, but only one has played Rufus Excalibur Ffolkes, and his name is Roger Moore. While his exploits never spawned a franchise, somewhere in an alternate universe No Time to Die is about a British man who hates women and does petit point. Instead of Bond girls, every film would feature a new Ffolkes cat (Ffolkes loves cats).

Ffolkes isn’t Bond, but he does have special skills. And in Ffolkes (or North Sea Hijack), he’s the man the Prime Minister (Faith Brook) calls to stop Lew Kramer (Anthony Perkins) and his cronies from blowing up Jennifer, Esther, and Ruth. Ffolkes’ opinion of women is low. He is the kind of guy who would watch Titantic and hate the scene where women and children are told to enter the lifeboats first. As it is, Ruth is a drilling rig, Jennifer’s an oil production platform, and Ester is the boat where most of the action in this movie takes place. All three have been rigged with mines that Kramer has threatened to set off if the British government doesn’t pay him a ransom in 24 hours.
Luckily, Ffolkes and his team have been training for this day. The very first scene in the movie is Ffolkes putting them through diving drills while using grenades as motivation. He’s a comic book character without a comic book, and one of the greatest delights in this movie is getting to see the different costumes Elsa Fennell comes up with for him to wear. These include a Where’s Waldo? hat before Waldo! When he needs a wet suit, the only one left is in vermillion. You never have to wonder which diver is Ffolkes – the rest of his team are dressed in black.
The eyewear in this movie is memorable, too, from Harold (Michael Parks) with his bottle glasses (he’s one of Kramer’s henchman), to Mr. Herring (David Wood) and his lavender lenses (his loyalties are unclear).
Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen and written by Jack Davies, Moore could’ve easily made Ffolkes the center of attention. He’s that kind of person. Instead, both his performance and Davies’ script show restraint, letting the rest of the cast shine and each scene build on the Ffolkes legend. The plot is very tight as well, as exemplified by the many times McLaglen cuts to the image of a clock. Ffolkes makes a lot of promises, but not everything goes according to plan. As a result, he’s never allowed to become complacent as he and his team are forced to adapt to each new challenge
The ending of Ffolkes is earned and, as a bonus, Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray includes an audio commentary by film historians, Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell, and Nathaniel Thompson. In it, they discuss McLaglen’s career, the use of miniatures, and the presence of Chad & Jeremy singer, Jeremy Clyde. They also draw attention to producer Elliot Kastner and point out scenes that could be seen as metaphors for moviemaking (with Ffolkes directing Admiral Brinsden (James Mason) in rehearsals).
Ffolkes is available now on Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber.

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