Largely forgotten and hard to trace, Terence Young’s 1966 television film to promote the UN’s work is a real oddity; reuniting the director of the original James Bond films with the author Ian Fleming, who provided the outline here, The Poppy Is Also A Flower features an all-star cast in a thriller about stopping the opium epidemic from spreading. Executive produced by Euan Lloyd, best known for his gung-ho action (Who Dares Wins, The Wild Geese), Young’s film is packed with talent, with Terence Howard and EG Marshall the unlikely duo at the centre of the commotion. The ads promised blazing action, but apart from a couple of late punch-ups on a train, there’s very little to cheer, but the story is interesting; spies impregnate a consignment of opium with radioactive material, and trace it to various distribution points to nail the chain. It’s a pre-French Connection policier, also known as The Opium Connection and Danger Goes Wild; fun to watch, if only to spot guest stars like Omar Sharif, Rita Hayworth, Yul Brynner and a scene-stealing Eli Wallach.
A rising star from UK TV hit The Professionals, the late Lewis Collins blew, by his own admission, his audition for silver screen immortality as James Bond. His career fizzled out in random gung-ho war films like Commando Leopard and Codename Wildgeese, but his finest hour was as SAS commander Peter Skellern in producer Euan Lloyd’s follow up to The Wild Geese. Ripped from the headlines, specifically the Iranian Embassy siege of 1981, Who Dares Wins sees Skellern infiltrate a CND peace movement that’s a front for the nefarious activities of Frankie Lloyd (Judy Davis). Ian Sharps’ film takes its time, but the final storming of the US embassy provides a cracking finale to a decidedly of-its-time thriller, with Collins commanding throughout. Unhelpfully known in the US as The Final Solution.