Deadlier Than the Male

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For the 1966 song, see The Walker Brothers. For the 2005 television episode, see Ultimate Force.
Deadlier Than the Male
Deadlier Than the Male - UK film poster.jpg
UK cinema poster
Directed by Ralph Thomas
Produced by Betty E. Box
Sydney Box
Written by Liz Charles-Williams
David D. Osborn
Jimmy Sangster
Starring Richard Johnson
Elke Sommer
Sylva Koscina
Nigel Green
Music by Malcolm Lockyer
title song performed by The Walker Brothers
Cinematography Ernest Steward
Edited by Alfred Roome
Distributed by J. Arthur Rank Film Distributors
Release dates
  • 21 February 1967 (1967-02-21) (London, premiere)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Deadlier Than the Male is a 1967 British crime and mystery film[1] featuring the character of Bulldog Drummond. It is one of the many take-offs of James Bond produced during the 1960s, but is based on an established detective fiction hero.

Richard Johnson (director Terence Young's original preference to play James Bond) stars as Bulldog Drummond, updated to a suave Korean War veteran, now an insurance investigator, trailing a pair of sexy assassins (Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina) who kill for sport and profit. Drummond's American nephew, Robert Drummond (Steve Carlson, then a Universal Pictures contract star), becomes involved in the intrigue when he comes to visit.

The title is a reference to the 1911 Rudyard Kipling poem "The Female of the Species," which includes the line, "The female of the species must be deadlier than the male", and also refers to Sapper's earlier Drummond book The Female of the Species. The working title of the film was The Female of the Species.[2] Filmed in Technicolor and Techniscope, portions of the film were shot in Lerici, La Spezia, Liguria, Italy.

The film was followed by a sequel, Some Girls Do, in 1969.


When a top oil executive dies mysteriously aboard his private jet, the company's board suspects foul play and hires Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond to investigate. Attempts on his own life lead him to believe two lovely females are "hit men" for an international crime syndicate.

Drummond pursues them from London to the Mediterranean, but finds himself trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a diabolical mastermind. It is revealed that Carl Petersen (Nigel Green) is the evil genius behind the assassinations (masquerading as an executive) and that his own assassination was faked. Using two female assassins, Irma (Elke Sommer) and Penelope (Sylva Koscina), Petersen kills anyone who either attempt to uncover his alter ego or block his attempts at making money.

The finale involves Petersen's attempt at killing King Fedra, who refuses to sell his oil fields. Grace, who unknowingly reveals to Petersen that she is disillusioned with Petersen while talking to Drummond, is unwittingly used to carry a plastic explosive onto the King's yacht. While playing against Petersen in a game of chess that uses giant motorized pieces, Drummond attempts to escape from Petersen's castle, where he is a prisoner. In the process, Drummond kills Petersen's bodyguard Chang (Milton Reid) and presumably kills Petersen himself by dropping him down an exploding hole in the chessboard (a different actor portrays the character in the 1969 sequel).

Irma and Penelope, forced to be near Grace on King Fedra's yacht while Drummond tries to find the bomb, escape when one of King Fedra's guards is distracted by Grace's off-screen nudity while Drummond is searching her. After a seemingly successful escape, Irma comments to the other that the bomb was in Grace's hairclip. Penelope is shocked, for she envied Grace's chignon (hairpiece) and replaced it with her own (having been envious of other women's belongings throughout the entire film, using them to the increasing consternation of others). The two assassins are killed instantly when the hairclip explodes, destroying their motorboat.



Publicity announced the film in December 1964[3] but it wasn't filmed until 1966. In an interview, Ralph Thomas stated that the film was intended as a pilot for a television series.[4] It was filmed in three months with Thomas admitting he did it for "greed".

The producers battled the British Board of Film Censors who strongly objected to the film's use of women assassins, torture and promiscuity, earning the film an X rating.[5]


  1. ^ Deming, Mark. "Deadlier Than the Male (1967)". Allmovie. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  2. ^ p. 197 Spicer, Andrew Sydney Box Manchester University Press, 05/09/2006
  3. ^ p. 57 Films and Filming, Volume 10, Issues 7-12 Hansom Books, 1964
  4. ^ Dixon, Wheeler W. Ralph Thomas Interview Collected Interviews: Voices from Twentieth-Century Cinema 2001 SIU Press
  5. ^ p.197 Spicer

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