To Catch a Spy

To Catch a Spy is a 1971 comedy spy film directed by Dick Clement and starring Kirk Douglas, Marlène Jobert, Trevor Howard, Richard Pearson, Garfield Morgan, Angharad Rees and Robert Raglan.[1] It was written by Clement and Ian La Frenais. It was a co-production between Britain, the United States and France, which was filmed in Bucharest, Romania. It was also part filmed on Loch Awe and Loch Etive, Scotland, where the gunboat scenes were filmed, and featured Kirk Douglas running through a herd of Highland cattle which were owned by David Fellowes.[2] It was also released as Catch Me a Spy and Keep Your Fingers Crossed.

To Catch a Spy
Original British quad poster by Arnaldo Putzu
Directed byDick Clement
Produced byPierre Braunberger
Steven Pallos
Written byDick Clement
Ian La Frenais
Based onthe novel Catch Me a Spy by George Marton & Tibor Méray
StarringKirk Douglas
Marlène Jobert
Trevor Howard
Tom Courtenay
Music byClaude Bolling
CinematographyChristopher Challis
Edited byJohn Bloom
Distributed byJ. Arthur Rank Film Distributors
Release date
6 September 1971
Running time
94 minutes (UK)
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States


A young British schoolteacher heads to the Eastern Bloc to try to locate her husband who has gone missing, and soon turns out to have been detained by Soviet intelligence as a spy.[3]


The Boats.

The "gunboats" in the movie were:- Lalage, a 70 ft WW2 Fairmile harbor defense launch, the East German boat, and the Calshot Salar, a 60 ft WW2 Royal Air Force "three leg" pinnace, the British boat.

Lalage was owned and operated by Captain Jack Glover of Dumbarton, who in addition was an extra in the movie, as was his brother Hans Glover. Tragically, Captain Glover drowned in 1982 while undertaking a boat salvage operation in the river Leven. Lalage eventually foundered off the Little Cubrae island after striking rocks during a severe storm and became a total loss.[4]

Calshot Salar, was owned by Dr W."bill" Souter and operated during filming by a Canadian, Captain Robin Blair Crawford, who also had a position as an extra in the movie and in addition was the lead safety diver at Loch Etive. At the insistence of her owner Calshot Salar had her original RAF number painted on the hull for the movie. After numerous adventures in both home and overseas waters Calshot Salar was sold and eventually became a houseboat at Shoreham.[5]

Critical reception

TV Guide wrote the film "features a good cast, an exciting speedboat chase, a few chuckles, and every spy cliche in the book";[6] and Radio Times noted "a sometimes clever and witty script by the ace TV team of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. However, it's rather let down by Clement's uncertain direction. Another problem is that, as a Bucharest waiter who is actually a spy, Kirk Douglas's peculiar intensity isn't best suited to a comedy. Trevor Howard and Tom Courtenay seem more at home with the spy spoof material."[7]

See also


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