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The London Connection

**
1979

‘…this astonishing smorgasbord of a made-for-tv feature captures the Mouse House in remarkable decline…’

Who thinks the past was better than the unspectacular now we’re currently living through? One glimpse of Disney’s 1979 offering The London Connection will offer a short, sharp shock in the realisation that the past is a country that’s best left undiscovered on this evidence. Disney were famously all over the place in the 70’s and 80’s, and this astonishing smorgasbord of a made-for-tv feature captures the Mouse House in remarkable decline. Sure, that title sounds generic, but if the Fast and Furious can sell Rio Heist as a title, let’s just give Robert Clouse’s movie a try.

And yes, that’s the director of action movie game-changer Enter The Dragon, tossing away his cache with a made-for tv feature for Disney that could be pressed into service for theatrical double bills outside the US. It’s a James Bond film minus the sex, sadism and violence, and if you take out the sex, sadism and violence from a late 70’s James Bond, there’s ain’t much left under the hood. So let’s join up with secret agent Luther Starling (Jeffrey Byron) as he uses a few fancy gadgets given to him by ‘Uncle Sam’ to keep the free world free by thwarting the kidnapping of an atomic scientist professor Buchinski (David Kossoff). And if that doesn’t wow the kids away from Star Wars, let’s have cameos from venerable British character actors like Mona Washbourne, Dudley Sutton, Frank Windsor, Nigel Davenport, Roy Kinnear and…

…Ok, so this isn’t any kids’ idea of a kids’ movie, but The London Connection is remarkable for its completely sexless atmosphere and bloodless action; the bizarre sight of a speedboat smashed through a delivery van resting on the surface of the Thames is the big finale, but there’s also lots of weird location action in and around London landmarks, with secret agent Luther Starling travelling on a eye-catching motorbike and moped Condorman-lite combo that has zero resemblance to the one seen in the poster.

The London Connection is pretty awful by any yardstick, and yet it is quite revealing in showing us the direction cinema didn’t go; we generally like stars, character and authorship in our films. We don’t like our films to be quite as blandly assembled as this, and that’s probably a good thing. Disney change direction fairly regularly as a big brand with several different audiences to please; a look back at the past shows just how difficult it was for them to create meaningful IP, unless this turning up on streaming suggests that the further adventures of Luther Starling are heading back our way soon…

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  1. Wow. I actually saw this movie! In a cinema! Maybe it was double-billed with the Aristocats in Ireland as well as the UK?

    I actually only remember one scene – which I’ve just watched again – in which the hero jabs somebody behind him with his elbow, then whacks him in the face as he doubles over (all without looking round). 11.32. No idea why. Maybe because I thought it was a pretty cool combination?

    • You are the winner of the ‘I can’t believe you’ve seen London Connection’ award. Have you rewatched the whole film on YouTube?

  2. Good thing I read all the comments first.

    With this being double billed with a cartoon, was it supposed to be a kids adventure movie like Swiss Family Robinson or 20,000 Leagues under the sea? Just seems odd to pair it up with a movie aimed at a completely different age.

    • Don’t you start. Alex’s behaviour has been terrible since we got here. You’re supposed to set a good example to him.

      I couldn’t get a decent hi-res poster for this, so could only get one with the Aristocats on it. So you’re not seing the Aristocrats, missy, now just sit back down, drink your juice and like your sweets. There’s cola cubes and a curly wurly if you behave. And don’t tickle Alex, it makes him pee himself. Sigh.

      • Right, that’s enough LIP from YOU, Alex, one more cheeky word from you and we’re going home. Now SHUT UP and eat one of your pasties, skate and black butter flavour, warmed with body heat. You know that Bertolucci’s La Luna has been sold out for weeks, so London Connection is all that’s left. Now shut your pie-hole and stop swinging on your seat, look, you made me put my cigarette out!

      • I still don’t get it. Why would a movie like London Connection (surely a parody of the French Connection?) have a hi-res poster of the Aristocats instead of it’s own movie?? I want cartoon cats not gangsta crapola.

        • You’ll have popcorn coming out of both ends if you keep this up, young lady. You’ll eat the non-brand popcorn I smuggled in from Poundstrechers and like it! It’s an absolute rip-off in here, they should have three cornered hats because its highway robbery! Now stop wriggling and SIT in your CHAIR properly!

            • You are just making it worse for yourself and you’ll set Alex off again. No cartoon cats for us, now sit in your chair properly and enjoy London Connection or there’s no spaghetti hoops for you when we get home.

    • SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP! You little twerp! I WONT TELL YOU AGAIN! Sit back in your seat and stop embarassing me! And you should have gone before we came out, I’m not geting up and down every time you want out of your seat! Now, just put a sock in it and enjoy some of the British character work; you dodn’t see Mona Washbourne in much these days..,..

    • You’ll sit in your seat and watch them both, Bunty, and none of your lip. We’re not getting picked up until 5pm, so there’s nowhere else to go. And don’t eat all these sweeties in one go, your’re meant to be rationing them. I don’t know why I bother taking you out.

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