Rod Taylor (The Birds, Hotel) is Boysie Oakes, a mistaken wartime hero with a silly name, whom the Secret Service hires as an assassin. The joke is that not only does Oakes not want to become Agent L, but he doesn’t have the stomach to harm a fly.
“No more romping around the mulberry bush: You’re a special, special agent,” his superiors tell him, and they aren’t kidding; Oakes’ first job is to push a beautiful brunette in front of a moving subway train. He can’t bring himself to such dastardly deeds, so the would-be assassin hires an assassin. This gives way to one of the film’s best bits: a montage of Agent L paying another man to bump others off.
New to DVD from Warner Archive, The Liquidator is more amusing than funny, and even more sexy than it is amusing. That’s what happens when you cast Jill St. John (who became a real Bond girl seven years later in Diamonds Are Forever) as the secretary who understandably distracts Agent L from, well, everything, and then pepper the rest of the film with shapely ’60s beauties in bikinis.
It’s no surprise they look as beautiful as they do — or the entire picture, really — because The Liquidator is one of the few features helmed by the legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff. He could do far better. Taylor was more limited, and isn’t right for this role, but at least he tries. —Rod Lott
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