Who Dares Wins: on Blu-ray

Monday, 08 October 2012 14:51
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Who Dares Wins - splendid on Blu-rayLewis Collins was, in 1982, being touted for great things. The following year he would conclude his six-year run on The Professionals, and there were rumours that once Roger Moore moved on from the James Bond franchise, Collins was top of the list to take over as 007.  Viewing “Who Dares Wins” with this in mind, it can very much be seen as the audition for what many anticipated to happen next.

The Special Air Service (SAS) was at the time held in high regard, thanks to their exploits which concluded the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980. Little was known about the men behind the masks of this elite unit of the British Army. So, a mix of curiosity and pride meant interest, in the UK at least, in a movie celebrating their (fictional) exploits would be high. Paranoia, black ops and espionage combine in what is effectively an old-school British action thrill ride.

A fanatical group of anti-nuclear radicals, calling themselves ‘The People’s Lobby’, is plotting a bloody outrage on British soil and, having already fatally lost their undercover operative at a violent protest, the secret services call on the aid of the SAS.

Captain Peter Skellen (Collins) is apparently thrown out of the service for gross misconduct and is soon recruited by “The People’s Lobby”, a peace group with violent methods. Skellen's dismissal is a front to enable him to infiltrate this well-meaning but deeply flawed group. He seduces their chief protagonist, Frankie Leith (Judy Davis) and she quickly admits him to their inner circle.

The group are training up to seize the American Embassy and take hostage a number of senior figures, including US Secretary of State Arthur Currie (Richard Widmark). They will allow their release only if the government fires a nuclear missile on a base in remote Scotland, to show the world the true level of destruction a warhead of this kind can cause.  Now on the inside, Skellen risks his career, his family and his life to try and stop them.

Rounding out the very recognisable cast are Edward Woodward, Ingrid Pitt, John Duttine, Kenneth Griffith, Tony Doyle, Lloyd, Norman Rodway, and Robert Webber.

The music by Roy Budd is nothing short of exceptional – it acts as superb underscore for the quieter scenes (there ARE some, honest!), but where needed it complements the action scenes superbly.  Unfortunately, you’ll find it hard and expensive to get hold of, being included as what are in essence a clutch of bonus tracks on the soundtrack CD for “Billion Dollar Brain”.

Originally released in 1982, and known as “The Final Option” in the USA, producer Euan Lloyd did indeed want the film to be a tribute to the anonymous heroes of the SAS. The film was based on the book “The Tiptoe Boys” by James Follett. Fans of The Prisoner will be intrigued that George Markstein, initial script editor on McGoohan’s series, provided the original story outline to the movie. The screenplay was finally handled by Reginald Rose, whose other screenplays include “The Wild Geese”, “Wild Geese II”, “12 Angry Men” and “The Sea Wolves”. He was also chief writer and developer of ITC’s action series The Zoo Gang.

Producer Euan Lloyd had a good working relationship with Reginald Rose, him taking the production reins on not only “Who Dares Wins” but also the aforementioned “The Wild Geese”, “Wild Geese II” and “The Sea Wolves”. He was also the producer of “The Man Called Noon” and “Paper Tiger”, and all of these six films saw him working with Chris Chrisafis in one role or another, starting as a Production Controller before becoming an Executive Producer. Chrisafis would later work on the likes of “Highlander II: The Quickening”, “The Count of Monte Cristo” (2002), “Where the Truth Lies” and “Highlander: The Source”.

Director Ian Sharp previously helmed three episodes of The Professionals, as well as a quartet of Robin of Sherwood outings and a pair of original Minder stories. He took on the role of second unit director for the Bond movie “Goldeneye”, as well as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” His most recent directorial mission was “Tracker” in 2010, starring Ray Winstone – the pair joining up again many years after they worked together on Robin of Sherwood. Sharp is married to Sue Cook of Crimewatch UK fame.

Maintaining the connection with The Professionals was Associate Producer Raymond Menmuir, who produced 44 episodes of that series and directed one of them. Menmuir had cut his teeth early in the 1960s as both producer and director, but wearing just his directorial hat he helmed episodes of series such as The Avengers, Undermind, Redcap, Mogul, Parkin’s Patch, The Befrienders, Adam Smith, Upstairs Downstairs, Sutherland’s Law, Quiller, The Onedin Line, The Duchess of Duke Street, and CATS Eyes.

Interestingly, this Blu-ray release features a bonus film on it - “Der Commander” (aka “The Commander”), a 99 minute jaunt from 1988. This is another Lewis Collins starring vehicle, this time with him playing Major Colby This is the third in a trio of movies where Collins worked with director Anthony M Dawson, aka Antonio Margheriti – the first, “Code Name; Wild Geese” (1984), can be found as an extra on the Blu-ray release of “The Wild Geese”; the second is called “Kommando Leopard” and was from 1985.

Lee Van Cleef also makes an appearance in “Der Commander”, too (as he did in “Code Name: Wild Geese”, but with both actors playing different characters). Donald Pleasance, looking remarkably like Lew Grade, is also on-hand with the remit to assist English-language territory sales of this German co-production, along with Brett Halsey, who had starred in Follow The Sun, a 1962 American TV series about a couple of magazine journalists based in Hawaii.

Special features on this Blu-ray release include:

  • Audio commentary with producer Euan Lloyd and director Ian Sharp;
  • “The Last Of The Gentleman Producers – The Life and Works of Euan Lloyd” – made in 2003, a 37 minute documentary directed by Simon Sprackling, featuring Euan Lloyd himself and contributions from Sir Roger Moore, Ingrid Pitt, director John Glen, Rosalind Lloyd, singer Joan Armatrading, producer Norman Spencer, cinematographer Sydney Samuelson, and the late Kenneth Griffith – all narrated by Linda Hayden;
  • Two original trailers;
  • Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork;
  • A collectors’ booklet featuring brand new writing on “Who Dares Wins” by Ali Catterall, co-author of “Your Face Here: British Cult Movies Since The Sixties”, Euan Lloyd’s original notes from the production, press book extracts, and critic David Hayles interviews director David Wickes (The Sweeney, The Professionals) about working with Lewis Collins.

“Who Dares Wins” is out now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video. It has a ‘15’ certificate, a running time of 125 minutes approx, and a RRP of £19.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com


Last modified on Monday, 08 October 2012 18:05

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