Permission to Kill (1975)

PG | 96 mins | Melodrama | 3 December 1975

Director:

Cyril Frankel

Writer:

Robin Estridge

Producer:

Paul Mills

Cinematographer:

F. A. Young

Editor:

Ernest Walter

Production Designer:

Elliot Scott

Production Company:

Wein-Sascha Productions
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HISTORY

       From 3 Jun 1970 through 8 Sep 1971, Var referred to the film by its working title, Five Against Capricorn. However, a 3 Feb 1971 Var news item used the French title, Cinq Contre Capricorn. In a 20 Nov 1974 Var brief, and throughout production, the film was titled The Kickback. A 15 Oct 1975 Var article on the film’s European premiere reported its new title as Permission to Kill.
       According to a 3 Jun 1970 Var article, screenwriter Robin Estridge adapted his novel, W.I.L. One to Curtis, which he wrote under the pseudonym “Philip Loraine.”
       On 5 Aug 1970 Var announced that Guy Hamilton would direct the film, and on 3 Jun 1970, Var reported that producers Jack Smith and Michael Holden of Variant Films Ltd., would begin principal photography Sep 1970 in London, England, and the French Alps, with a budget of $1.25 million. However, five months later, filming had not yet begun, and a 3 Feb 1971 Var news item stated Georges Cheyko was now producing the film, with Ursula Andress and George Peppard in starring roles. A 16 Jun 1971 Var brief announced that director Étienne Périer was beginning production in Nice, France, with Peppard and “probably Ursula Andress.” However, a 1 Sep 1971 Var news item listed a 1 Oct 1971 start date, with Peter Hunt directing “in 70 millimeter for roadshow contention.” An 8 Sep 1971 Var column stated that Smith, Holden, and Hunt were searching for four ...

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       From 3 Jun 1970 through 8 Sep 1971, Var referred to the film by its working title, Five Against Capricorn. However, a 3 Feb 1971 Var news item used the French title, Cinq Contre Capricorn. In a 20 Nov 1974 Var brief, and throughout production, the film was titled The Kickback. A 15 Oct 1975 Var article on the film’s European premiere reported its new title as Permission to Kill.
       According to a 3 Jun 1970 Var article, screenwriter Robin Estridge adapted his novel, W.I.L. One to Curtis, which he wrote under the pseudonym “Philip Loraine.”
       On 5 Aug 1970 Var announced that Guy Hamilton would direct the film, and on 3 Jun 1970, Var reported that producers Jack Smith and Michael Holden of Variant Films Ltd., would begin principal photography Sep 1970 in London, England, and the French Alps, with a budget of $1.25 million. However, five months later, filming had not yet begun, and a 3 Feb 1971 Var news item stated Georges Cheyko was now producing the film, with Ursula Andress and George Peppard in starring roles. A 16 Jun 1971 Var brief announced that director Étienne Périer was beginning production in Nice, France, with Peppard and “probably Ursula Andress.” However, a 1 Sep 1971 Var news item listed a 1 Oct 1971 start date, with Peter Hunt directing “in 70 millimeter for roadshow contention.” An 8 Sep 1971 Var column stated that Smith, Holden, and Hunt were searching for four actors to star with Andress. The film was not shot in 70 millimeter, and neither Hamilton, Smith, Holden, Variant Films, Cheyko, Andress, Peppard, Périer, nor Hunt are credited onscreen.
       Over three years later, A 20 Nov 1974 Var column announced the film would star Dirk Bogarde with Paul Mills producing. DV production charts on 24 Jan 1975 stated that principal photography began 13 Jan 1975 in Austria, under the direction of Cyril Frankel. A 12 Mar 1975 Var brief reported that the film completed principal photography 1 Mar 1975 in Gmunden, Austria. According to a 12 May 1976 Var article, the production was “entirely Austrian-financed.”
       In a 29 Sep 1975 DV article, the film appeared on Avco Embassy’s 1976 release schedule. However, the film was advertised as opening 2 Dec 1975 in Frederick, Maryland, in the town’s 2 Dec 1975 News Post.
      End credits include the following statement: “Made at Sievering Studios, Vienna and on location at Gmunden, Upper Austria.”

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Dec 1975
---
Daily Variety
24 Jan 1975
p. 10
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1975
p. 1, 18
Daily Variety
29 Sep 1975
p. 9
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1975
pp. 3-4
Daily Variety
12 May 1976
p. 378
Frederick [MD] News Post
3 Dec 1975
Section B, p. 11
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 1975
p. 6
Motion Picture Production Digest
10 Dec 1975
---
New York Times
6 Aug 1967
---
New York Times
8 Oct 1967
---
Variety
3 Jun 1970
p. 25
Variety
5 Aug 1970
p. 26
Variety
3 Feb 1971
p. 30
Variety
16 Jun 1971
p. 26
Variety
1 Sep 1971
p. 30
Variety
8 Sep 1971
p. 28
Variety
20 Nov 1974
p. 26
Variety
12 Mar 1975
p. 7
Variety
15 Oct 1975
p. 3
Variety
3 Dec 1975
p. 22
Variety
12 May 1976
p. 378
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Cyril Frankel film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Prod mgr
Denis Johnson, Jnr.
Prod mgr
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Freddie Young
Dir of photog
2d unit cam
Ronnie Taylor
Cam op
Grip
Film processed by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Const mgr
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ava Gardner's clothes by
MUSIC
The Vienna Volksoper Orchestra, Cond
Flügelhorn
SOUND
Sd rec
Sd rec
MAKEUP
Hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Loc mgr
Continuity
Continuity
Casting
Prod accountant
STAND INS
Stunt arr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel W.I.L. One to Curtis by Philip Loraine (New York, 1967).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Five Against Capricorn
The Executioner
The Kickback
Release Date:
3 December 1975
Premiere Information:
Frederick, MD opening: 3 Dec 1975; Los Angeles opening: 21 Sep 1977; New York opening: 9 Dec 1977
Production Date:
13 Jan--1 Mar 1975 in Vienna and Gmunden, Austria
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Austria, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Agent Alan Curtis of the Western Intelligence Liaison (W.I.L.) uses blackmail to enlist five people to help him stop revolutionary exile Alexandre Diakim from returning to his home country. Those blackmailed are a French-Algerian assassin named Melissa Lascade; a former follower of Diakim, now a journalist, American Scott E. Allison; an eight-year-old French boy named François Diderot; British foreign officer Charles Lord, whose homosexual affairs threaten his career; and Diakim’s former lover, Katina Petersen, an American expatriate living in Milan, Italy. However, they are all unaware of each other’s involvement. Curtis gathers the five in Gmunden, Austria, where Diakim is plotting his homecoming. Under Curtis's instruction, Scott arranges a meeting with Diakim to convince him to delay his return home until the timing is right. Against the wishes of his advisors, Diakim meets with Scott but insists there is no W.I.L., accuses Scott of being a Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) operative, and dismisses his warnings. Later, Curtis offers Scott a plane ticket to return to the U.S., but the reporter remains in Gmunden to cover the story. When Katina summons Curtis to her hotel because she wants to go home to Milan, Curtis informs her that he has also brought her son François, to Austria. Impregnated by Diakim, Katina gave birth to the boy without Diakim’s knowledge. Curtis is using Francois to force Katina to speak with Diakim. Meanwhile, Scott monitors Curtis's movements. The assassin, Melissa asks Curtis when she is to kill Diakim, and he replies that he does not know, perhaps never. Scott witnesses Melissa taking target practice and deduces the reason for her presence. Later, Diakim greets Katina warmly, but does not believe the letter she ...

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Agent Alan Curtis of the Western Intelligence Liaison (W.I.L.) uses blackmail to enlist five people to help him stop revolutionary exile Alexandre Diakim from returning to his home country. Those blackmailed are a French-Algerian assassin named Melissa Lascade; a former follower of Diakim, now a journalist, American Scott E. Allison; an eight-year-old French boy named François Diderot; British foreign officer Charles Lord, whose homosexual affairs threaten his career; and Diakim’s former lover, Katina Petersen, an American expatriate living in Milan, Italy. However, they are all unaware of each other’s involvement. Curtis gathers the five in Gmunden, Austria, where Diakim is plotting his homecoming. Under Curtis's instruction, Scott arranges a meeting with Diakim to convince him to delay his return home until the timing is right. Against the wishes of his advisors, Diakim meets with Scott but insists there is no W.I.L., accuses Scott of being a Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) operative, and dismisses his warnings. Later, Curtis offers Scott a plane ticket to return to the U.S., but the reporter remains in Gmunden to cover the story. When Katina summons Curtis to her hotel because she wants to go home to Milan, Curtis informs her that he has also brought her son François, to Austria. Impregnated by Diakim, Katina gave birth to the boy without Diakim’s knowledge. Curtis is using Francois to force Katina to speak with Diakim. Meanwhile, Scott monitors Curtis's movements. The assassin, Melissa asks Curtis when she is to kill Diakim, and he replies that he does not know, perhaps never. Scott witnesses Melissa taking target practice and deduces the reason for her presence. Later, Diakim greets Katina warmly, but does not believe the letter she recently sent explaining François’ birth. Diakim assumes Curtis invented the story, but Katina confirms the truth, admitting that she should have had an abortion. When Diakim slaps Katina, she muses that he is acting just like old times. Elsewhere, Curtis phones his wife, who believes him to be a gentleman farmer negotiating agricultural rates. One night, Scott follows Britsh officer Lord and Curtis's man, Jennings, to a wine bar and plants a note in Lord’s coat. The following day, Katina informs Curtis that neither she nor Diakim is going to go along with the agent’s plan. However, Curtis has arranged for Diakim to see François during a boat ride on a lake, hoping that it will inspire the revolutionary to remain in Austria. Lord meets Scott in a church confessional and tells the reporter that he once arranged a loan for Diakim’s organization, which has never been repaid. Scott reveals that Melissa will kill Diakim if they fail to convince him to stay. Meanwhile, on the boat, Curtis attempts to convince Diakim himself, urging the revolutionary to take Katina and François somewhere safe. Curtis later authorizes Lord to cancel Diakim’s debt and offer him $500,000. However, Lord and Scott plot to foil Curtis's plan by using the $500,000 to pay Melissa to stop her from killing Diakim. Contradicting Curtis, Scott tries to convince Diakim to return to his country. Meanwhile, Lord convinces Melissa that Curtis is untrustworthy and offers her the money to not kill Diakim. The next day, Scott sneaks in to Katina’s hotel and convinces her to help him and Lord. Unaware of the conspiracy, Curtis takes Lord and the $500,000 to Diakim, insisting that Lord and the revolutionary sign a receipt. Although Diakim refuses the money, Lord forges his signature, unbeknown to Curtis, then drops the briefcase full of cash into a ravine, where Scott is waiting. Handing over the fraudulent receipt to Curtis, Lord leaps from Curtis's moving vehicle and attempts to escape on foot. Curtis and his driver, Brewer, give chase. Brewer shoots Lord and they take him back to W.I.L. headquarters. Meanwhile, Scott and Katina meet Melissa on a boat and give her the briefcase. When the boat reaches the other side of the lake, Melissa disembarks, followed by one of Curtis's men. Elsewhere, Diakim telephones a member of the press to announce that he will be flying home that night. Back at W.I.L. headquarters, Lord dies and Curtis orders his operatives to shut down the office as news of Diakim’s departure spreads. Discovering the plot, Curtis demands his money from Melissa. When she balks, he threatens to rescind the release of her jailed boyfriend. Acquiescing, Melissa hands over the key to a bus station locker, where she placed the money. Later, Diakim and his entourage arrive at the Vienna airport for a press conference as Curtis, his men, and Melissa establish a position from which she can shoot the revolutionary. Scott and Katina attempt to enter the press conference, but are rebuffed, and Curtis chastises them for their idealism. Curtis's men arrange to switch Diakim’s briefcase with one of their own filled with explosives. A member of Diakim’s team recognizes Katina and lets her and Scott into the press conference. Scott grabs the microphone to announce that there will be an assassination attempt on Diakim at the airport, and Alan Curtis is responsible. As Diakim moves through the airport surrounded by his followers, Melissa tells Curtis it is impossible to fire a shot. A security guard stops Katina and Scott at the gate and they bid Diakim farewell. Meanwhile, Melissa attempts to flee and is captured by Curtis's men. Just before Diakim reaches the plane, Curtis detonates a bomb in the briefcase and Diakim and those around him are killed. In the bedlam that follows, Scott pleads with Katina to help him spread Diakim’s legacy. As Scott dictates his story into a tape recorder, he begins to cry. Melissa tells Curtis that she always knew about the plotted assassination and Curtis leaves. As Melissa walks away, one of the men kills her, then places the detonator beside her body, using her as the decoy assassination.

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Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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