239. Puppet on a Chain (UK 1970)

Director: Geoffrey Reeve (chase sequence Don Sharp)

Starring: Sven-Bertil Taube, Barbara Parkins, Patrick Allen, Vladek Sheybal, Alexander Knox, Ania Marson

Cinematography: Jack Hildyard

Original Music: Piero Picioni

Story/Script: Alastair McLean (extra material - Paul Wheeler, Don Sharp)

FACT: Patrick Allen supplied the voice for actor Leon Greene in The Devil Rides Out

In one line:  Narcotics agent tries to break up Amsterdam drugs ring


""Do you know, Sven, you're only two mortgage payments away from doing a set of shitey Barratt commercials?"

"I was waiting for the obligatory 'Barratt' reference, Pat."


Paul Sheldon (Taube) traces the source of the triple killing of his fellow agents to an Amsterdam drug ring. Working with fellow (?) undercover officer Maggie (Parkins), Sheldon begins to uncover a corrupt and violent world of unlikely pushers and addicts.


A film filled with gratuitous violence and sadism. As has been noted elsewhere, much of the violent content seems to have been inserted to cover inadequacies in the script, narrative and direction.

Reeve's direction is plodding and the story is ponderously told. It is also generally believed that fellow director Don Sharp was responsible for the famous speed boat chase in the film.

But the film has a certain something. There's a good sense of menace created, and the audience quickly understands that Sherman is alone in a hostile world where corruption is rife and the bad guys are firmly in control. (A bit like Illustrious Corpses.)

Carol Decker's career had reached its nadir.

The Amsterdam and other Dutch locations help to make the film memorable, and there are some excellent set pieces - the 'death through deafness' torture scene,  the boat chase and the strange appearance of smackhead Ania Marson.

"Do you know, smackhead commisioner's daughter, you're only two mortgage payments away from doing a set of shitey Barratt's commercials?"

Ex pop star Taube is a bit wooden (as is Parkins), but  Vladek Sheybal is a classy, if somewhat pantomimetic baddie, and the great Patrick Allen almost steals the show as a sinister detective with a secret.

Allen's screams as he becomes the final 'puppet on a chain' are the scariest thing in an unpleasant but watchable film.

The late, great Trevor Hockey passes round the 'reefer' at Amsterdam's 'Wooky Hollow' club (cabaret by Lovelace Van Watkins).