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Callan 1974
Description: David Callan, secret agent, is named back to the service after his retirement, to handle the assasination of a german businessman, but Callan refuses to co-operate until he finds out why this boy is marked for death.
Released: 11 Apr 1975 Director: Don Sharp Writers: James Mitchell (screenplay), James Mitchell (novel) Actors: Edward Woodward, Eric Porter, Carl Möhner, Catherine Schell Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller
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Callan Reviews:

This is a tight, clever thriller closely based on the fine novel Red File For Callan, from which the nice 1960s-1970s Thames TV series developed. David Callan is a solitary, mentally unstable killer, who is given one last possibility to return to "The Section", a shadowy British government safety department. Callan hates to kill, but is qualified for tiny else, and has been forced by his old masters into a dull, mundane office job with a harassing boss. His use is to murder someone - a boy whom it turns out he knows, an apparently harmless businessman with whom he shares an interest in military history and war games. The movie boasts a first-class performance from Edward Woodward as Callan, reprising his TV role with confidence. Russell Hunter is also extremely nice as Lonely, a smelly petty crook whom Callan employs to purchase him a gun. Sadly the movie was made with tiny style, and the military band score is disappointingly out of kilter with Jack Trombey's fine, moody Callan TV theme.The Callan hero was an icon in British tv history, and was extremely famous with viewers. This storyline got its first TV outing as A Magnum for Schneider (the book's original title) in a 50 minute slot on Armchair Theatre, a popular British TV drama anthology. (This unofficial pilot can actually be seen on a very nice DVD compilation of what early episodes are still unwiped, named "Callan: The Monochrome Years" (Network DVD, 2010).) There was also a newest BBC radio version. Callan was seen, like The Ipcress File, as an antidote to the invulnerable 007. Why there were no another Callan movies made, since the author James Mitchell wrote few filmable novels about the character, is a mystery.Callan boasts one technical distinction: according to the Guinness Ebook of Film Facts and Feats, this was the first movie to be released with a Dolby encoded mono soundtrack. (A Clockwork Orange used Dolby noise reduction in its making some years before but used a conventional soundtrack on its release prints.) When I saw Callan on its release at a local cinema, I remember thinking the sound was uncommonly clear and the dialogue for once now audible.


An acceptable expansion of the pilot episode of the celebrated TV spy series,CALLAN benefits from Edward Woodward's memorable characterisation of an unglamourous,seedy and brutish secret agent David Callan,helped and hindered by his even seedier sidekick,smelly petty crook Lonely,superbly played by Russell Hunter.Although not quite as nice as the TV series,this movie ver is still very watchable and efficiently directed by Don Sharp,with a several interesting frisson's added,most notably Callan's ferocious disposal of a gangster's hit-man(played by Dave Prowse,later to become Darth Vader's physical form.As with Star Wars,Prowse's Bristol accent is dubbed over here as well)and the gangster's subsequent test for virtual human experimentation,which Callan observes to his disgust and horror.The series was everytime interesting for Callan's frequent clashes with his superiors,made more strident because of his working-class background;his colleagues were invariably upper middle-class,public schoolboys,as typified by the vindictive bully Toby Meres,played here by Peter Egan.Egan is adequate in the role but lacks the additional toughness,wit and humour provided by Anthony Valentine in the TV series(Peter Bowles played Meres in the pilot),and his boss 'Hunter',played in this movie ver by Eric Porter; the greatest 'Hunter' of all in the TV series was probably William Squire.Many UK TV shows had movie versions produced in the 1970's,mostly sitcoms like ON THE BUSES,LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR,MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE,etc. These and others were mostly dismal but CALLAN works far better despite having to add more footage from the original TV pilot,and works as a taut,terse and respectable movie ver of an perfect TV original.RATING:6 and a half out of 10.


I thought the movie was very good. I like others at first approached the movie with a jaundiced view, specifically the fully various result of the music. However once viewed few times ones' view changes and accepts the movie / melody / various "Hunter" etc. afresh. No one else should enjoy Callan another than Edward Woodward, the result of Eric Porter as the fresh "Hunter" also becomes part of the entire fabric. I have seen the movie many times actually and to change anything or to test to align it with the method Callan was presented for TV would be detrimental.Enjoy it as it stands without prejudice. One low spot, the stage where Callan is located with Lonely in a pub by one of Mears' henchmen; you should never jam a kiosk door with a piece of folded up card!



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