Deadlier Than the Male

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For the 1966 song, see Deadlier Than the Male (song). 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 (UK)
Universal Pictures (USA)
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. The Song featured in the Film`s opening credit sequence was performed by The Walker Brothers.


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), thought to have been a victim of assassination himself, is the evil genius behind the assassinations. Using two female assassins, Irma (Elke Sommer) and Penelope (Sylva Koscina), Petersen kills anyone who comes too close to revealing his true identity or who threatens his profit margin. He captures and imprisons Drummond.

The finale involves Petersen's attempt to kill King Fedra, who refuses to sell his oil fields. Grace, Petersen's disillusioned mistress, is overheard confiding her dissatisfaction to Drummond. Petersen repays her by secreting a plastic explosive onto her and sending her to the King's yacht. While playing chess against Petersen with giant motorized pieces, Drummond attempts to escape from Petersen's castle. He kills Petersen's bodyguard Chang (Milton Reid) and presumably kills Petersen himself by dropping him into a pit.

Drummond boards the King's yacht to search Grace for the explosive. He strips her naked during the search; one of Fedra's guards is distracted by her nudity, allowing Irma and Penelope to escape. Irma reveals that the bomb was in Grace's hairclip. Penelope is aghast; having envied Grace's chignon, she stole the hairclip and is wearing it during their escape. The two assassins are killed instantly when the hairclip explodes, destroying their motorboat.



It was publicity announced 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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