Film / The Assassination Bureau

A classic British Black Comedy film from 1969, directed by Basil Dearden and adapted from the novel The Assassination Bureau, Ltd (which was started by Jack London in 1910, left unfinished, and completed by Robert L. Fish in 1963).

Oliver Reed plays Ivan Dragomiloff, the head of a Murder, Inc. gang in Edwardian London. While he is quite proud of his accomplishments, he feels that his subordinates have lost track of the high moral standard on which his father founded the association: No killing unless it can be determined that murder is the best solution. To that end, he accepts an offer from journalist Sonia Winter (Diana Rigg): If they can't kill him, he will kill them.

Of course, he also has reason to believe that his 2IC (Telly Savalas) has reasons of his own for wanting him dead.

This movie has examples of

  • Faking the Dead: A particularly lucky example.
  • Historical In-Joke: A bomb intended for Dragomiloff accidentally kills Franz Ferdinand (in reality, he was killed during a parade)
  • Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Dragomiloff sees the chalice being poisoned, and notes that the table has the ability to rotate. He then notes which chalice has the poison, rotates the table, and drinks to fake his own death. Fortunately for him, the would-be murderer senses that the tables are being turned, and refuses to drink from the actual poisoned chalice.
  • Widow's Weeds: Due to Faking the Dead, Miss Winter and a female antagonist have a montage showing them dressing in competitively glamourous mourning - both are rather too fashionable by the end of it for the intended sentiment to apply, but it's a very ironic movie overall.