This intelligent and absorbing drama was released in 1978, and starred the ever popular American actor David Janssen. Of course, Mr Janssen had been so well thought of and extremely popular via his TV roles in such series as THE FUGITIVE, O’HARA UNITED STATES TREASURY and RICHARD DIAMOND, all of which were top shows on American TV and also did well when sold to other countries. Janssen began his acting career back in 1945 and did make a number of what can be deemed as good movies, but it was television that was to really bring the actor’s talents to the public at large and by the early to mid 1960s, Janssen was well established as an actor of much worth. Unfortunately the actor’s life was to be cut short by a heart attack which he suffered in 1980. I am certain if he had lived we would have seen many more superior performances from Janssen. As far as I know he only made one movie in Italy which was SONO STATO UN AGENTE CIA (or COVERT ACTION as it was re-titled for release outside of Italy) but he also starred in another European production entitled THE SWISS CONSPIRACY. SONO SATO UN AGENTE CIA was a totally engrossing drama and saw Janssen as a former CIA agent who had retired and decided to tell his story in the form of a book. The CIA as you can imagine are not too pleased about this and they send Arthur Kennedy to track Janssen down in Greece. The landscapes are stunning, the photography marvellous and the storyline and the performances by all actors are outstanding.
The musical score is by one of Italy’s foremost composers of film music Stelvio Cipriani. Cipriani was no stranger to this type of movie when he was commissioned to write the score and had also made a name for himself scoring a number of successful Italian westerns, THE BOUNTY HUNTER, A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN and BLINDMAN among them. Cipriani opens the score with a delightful easy going semi disco tempo composition entitled RELAX. The romantic strings laced with playful sounding harpsichord are just two of the trademark sounds of Cipriani which combine elegantly and melodically; intertwining and complimenting each other to create an almost leisurely piece that is not only entertaining but also serves the movie well – the composer establishing almost immediately a romantic ambience to the proceedings. Track number two, CIA AGENT is another example of the composer’s prowess and originality in creating haunting themes. This restrained and rather downbeat sounding cue is performed by solo flute which is backed by guitar and underlying strings with a restrained use of percussion. Track three, AGENT TALE seems on its commencement to be a pleasant enough sounding interlude, but one which accompanies the murder of one of the stories characters in an old theatre. Track four, JOURNEY IN ATHENS is a gentle nod in the direction of Greek composers Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hajidakis as it certainly has a number of similarities to both TOPKAPI and ZORBA THE GREEK. Cipriani creates a somewhat authentic sounding composition that is vibrant and full of life. This composition is reprised in track five but the composer arranges it in a slightly different fashion reducing the tempi. Track six, ‘Investigation Rhythm’ is a masterful piece as the composer returns to elements of the CIA AGENT theme but on this occasion interjects and infuses a sense of mystery by using a more brooding approach via different instrumentation and creating an atmosphere that is solitary and singular. Track seven is a reprise of the opening theme ‘Relax’; the composer on this outing commences with pensive piano that leads into harpsichord which picks out the rather lovely theme strings are to present in an arrangement of the theme that is reminiscent of the composer’s excellent theme for THE ANONYMOUS VENETIAN. Overall this is a great soundtrack and one that I am so glad has been released on CD thanks to Chris’s Soundtrack Corner for this gem of a score and I look forward to many more being issued on this particular label. Presented well, with many informative notes and scattering of stills from the movie.