Cinema: Fractional Thriller

Aaent 8¾%. To make a contemporary spy thriller without sneaking in a nod to James Bond would apparently be an unthinkable breach of custom. In Agent 83A, the amenities are ticked off with ease when Robert Morley, as an epicene intelligence chief, routes Bond's records into a file drawer marked "Deceased." That takes care of 007, but leaves 8¾% with only fractional assets.

Needing a dupe to carry out a delicate mission in Prague, Morley hires an unpublished writer (Dirk Bogarde). "I'd be a lot happier if he'd been to a decent school," says Morley's aide in dour appraisal of the new...

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