Film: Agent for H.A.R.M.

You know your lead is lame when the two women he scores with get more poster space than he does.
Agent for H.A.R.M. is a 1965 American Spy Movie.

The plot concerns the development and distribution of a biological warfare compound referred to as "spore." Said spore turns humans into "living fungus," rather quickly and is apparently painless. Comrade Basil Malko is developing the spore to destroy the population of the United States by dusting the crops. The only man that can stop him is Dr. Jan Stefanik, a biologist from behind the Iron Curtain.

After Stefanik defects from behind the Iron Curtain to the United States, his assistant is killed at his makeshift lab outside San Diego. The eponymous H.A.R.M. sends one of its agents, Adam Chance, to help protect the scientist. Unfortunately, there's various and sundry baddies led by the evil Malko, who would love nothing more than to turn Stefanik into guacamole.

The film was intended for television as a pilot, but was inexplicably given a theatrical release. Even the director was surprised.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Agent for H.A.R.M. contains these tropes:

  • Artistic License Sports: The "judo range".
  • Abnormal Ammo: The spore guns in the movie. They shoot spores.
  • Accidental Misnaming: A meta-example. The poster for the film — which you can see at the top of this page — misspells lead actor Peter Mark Richman's name as "Mark Richmond."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Adam manages to prevent the villain from dusting American crops with the poisonous spores, thereby saving millions of lives, but that's about all that goes right. He fails to find an antidote to the spore and fails to protect Stefanik, the only scientist in the world who is even close to developing an antidote. He also fails to notice that Ava is The Mole, despite her being really bad at it. He doesn't even manage to take the villain down properly; the critically wounded Stefanik is the one who kills the villain, getting himself dusted with spores in the process.
  • Body Horror: The spore infects living flesh in a disturbing, pulsating way.
  • California Doubling: A drainpipe somewhere in the LA hills is supposed to be Eastern Europe.
    Crow: Ah, it's the Eastern Europe part of southern California!
  • Came from the Sky: A bit of exposition near the beginning of the film explains that the spore was collected from a meteor that fell somewhere in the Soviet Union.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: Adam kills one of Malko's cronies by strangling him with a wire hanger from the back of the van he's driving - but not before forcing him to take him somewhere. Uh huh.
    • Chance attacks the Mook just as he's leaving the Big Bad's hideout. If the guy didn't keep driving the other Mooks would know something was wrong.
  • Dirty Old Man: Adam is easily old enough to be the extremely youthful Ava's father. This doesn't go unnoticed by the riffers, of course.
  • Downer Ending: The Doctor is killed by the spore despite claiming he gave himself the antidote, and Adam makes out with Ava while arresting her of a capital crime. It's hard to feel anything happy at the end, not even a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Since Ava was stupid enough to register for the Vienna Archery Competition using her real name, Adam easily caught her...after it was too late to actually do much. By that point she'd pretty done everything she set out to do short of killing Adam and/or escaping. So both of these morons get a round of applause for their ineptitude at their jobs.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Of the Desperately Shoehorned variety. H.A.R.M. stands for Human Aetiological Relations Machine. For the record, aetiology is the study of causation or origins. So, yeah, they couldn't have reached further if they'd used a cherrypicking machine.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Adam Chance gets to cop a feel.
  • Good Is Not Nice:
    Chance: You think you can't get hurt because this is America? "Apple Pie", and all that jazz? Well, my job is to make sure that pie stays on the table - and nobody asks how I do it!
  • Hot Scientist: Ava.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: In sharp contrast to Eva, Chance gets off some truly implausible shots using a pistol small enough to have a key ring attached.
  • Informed Ability: Subverted in that Ava's terrible archery skills are lampshaded by Adam.
  • Look Behind You: Spaz Chop!
  • Metaphorgotten: Adam's extended "apple pie" metaphor is a little... opaque. And not nearly as cool-sounding as he thinks.
    Mike: Okay, I'm just going to need an hour to figure out your metaphor...
  • The Mole: Ava
  • The Pilot: Averted at the last moment.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Malko's minions include a guy that bears an uncanny resemblance to Prince and an odd Englishman.
  • Sacrificial Lamb of Another Story: Adam's first meeting with Da Chief is suddenly interrupted by a distress call from another agent, who is swiftly killed. Adam's ready to go, but his boss already has him assigned to the spore case; he tells his secretary to assign another agent to clean up after the dead one.
  • Smug Snake: Our hero, unfortunately.
    Mike: Here's the wind-up... [Chance smirks] and there's the smarm!
    Tom: Level 5 smug alert!
  • Sociopathic Hero: While the modest cast list prevents him from racking up a significant bodycount, Adam is still pretty nonchalant when it comes to killing.
  • Tap on the Head: One of the characters is knocked out with a chop to the neck. This was later featured as the stinger in the MST treatment of the movie.
  • The Teaser: The film opens on Stefanik's escape from Southern California—err, behind the Iron Curtain.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Adam "accidentally" cops a feel of Ava.
  • Useless Protagonist: Adam doesn't do much of anything aside from killing a couple henchmen and getting tricked. He doesn't even save the day.
  • You Just Told Me: Ava's real name. Even given that Chance called the Vienna Archery Competition to verify it, it's played as a damning self-incrimination when he addresses her with her real name and she responds. Despite the fact that they are completely alone in the room.
    • She's arrested for assaulting Adam after he did so, so it was more of a Batman Gambit by Adam.

Alternative Title(s):

Agent For HARM