George Bond or James Segal
"The Quiller Memorandum" feels like a James Bond movie from the 60s, it looks like a James Bond movie from the 60s and even sounds like a James Bond movie from the 60s. Except "The Quiller Memorandum" isn't a James Bond movie from the 60s and is not only missing one vital ingredient but it has an extra ingredient which makes it a rather curious experience. The easiest way to sum it up is to say "The Quiller Memorandum" is James Bond movie but without the action; we have a spy trying to uncover the location of a Neo-Nazi group behind a couple of murders and the leader of the Neo-Nazi's is an evil genius type but there is no daring escapades, no thrilling fights and not a great deal of car action either. But what you get in "The Quiller Memorandum" is George Segal who has this curious comical charm going on, laid back and amusing but never once delivering comedy, just amusement by his attitude, his look, his smile and general sense of movement.
After their latest agent is murdered in Berlin the British Secret Service decide to call agent Quiller (George Segal) back from vacation to send him there where upon he meets his contact, the sandwich connoisseur Pol (Alec Guinness). Quiller learns his mission is to find the HQ of a Neo-Nazi organization and sets about tapping up people for info; it is whilst doing this he meets the beautiful Inge (Senta Berger) who he follows back to her home. But shortly after charming his way inside he is bumped into by a man in the street carrying a suitcase and finds himself becoming woozy at the steering wheel of his car, waking up in the headquarters of the Neo-Nazi group where he meets a man called Oktober (Max von Sydow) who wants to know what the British know about their group.
So as I said "The Quiller Memorandum" feels like a James Bond movie but one devoid of action and it has many of the usual James Bond elements. So Quiller is sent on a mission to another country, he has his contacts who use the code words "Do you smoke this brand" to introduce themselves and there is also an attractive woman. As the story plays out Quiller ends up captured at one point and being injected with a truth serum to try and get him too speak. But there is very little action as the focus on the movie is more on the character of Quiller rather than battling bad guys or even actually getting the job done.
But this is where "The Quiller Memorandum" gets curious because of the way George Segal plays Quiller. He looks like he has stepped straight out of the James Bond wardrobe department in a good looking suit and he has an eye for a pretty woman as he charms the attractive Inge. But there is almost something sort of tongue in cheek about the way Segal plays Quiller, a mischievous glint in his eye and a smirk on his face as if he is laughing on the inside. It makes you smile because it is funny without being intentionally comical and thankfully never gets boring be it when he is trying to charm Inge or when he meets other people.
And Quiller is not the only comical character as Alec Guinness as his contact Pol also seems to be having fun especially in the scene where he offers Quiller a sandwich and is fascinated by the contents of each one. And on the subject of food we also have the two top men at the British secret service who coldly discuss the murder of an agent with the same tone as they discuss what each other is eating in a restaurant. It is a simply curious style thing going on which makes you smile without ever throwing a joke at you. Even Max von Sydow as Oktober is amusing despite playing the bad guy in a typical James Bond manner.
What this all boils down to is that "The Quiller Memorandum" is not going to be for everyone as it is like a James Bond movie but one devoid of action, making it very wordy. But for those who get in to it get a treat of a George Segal performance which makes you smile from beginning to end.