Back to 1967 again with this. Billion Dollar Brain was Michael Caine’s third turn as spy Harry Palmer, and the film was directed by the great Ken Russell, apparently in what was his only director-for-hire outing.
The title sequence here was designed by Maurice Binder, on a sabbatical from the Bond sequences that made him famous. The plot of the film is based around a loony American oil tycoon, intent on causing the collapse of the Soviet Union and the supercomputer he’s created to help his cause – as Art of the Title described it, ‘a vacuum tube Skynet’. In keeping with the other two films in the series, no-one that Palmer encounters is quite who they seem and a sense of that Cold War paranoia is evident throughout the titles.
For me, Billion Dollar Brain outdoes all of Binder’s Bond titles. It has everything I love in imagery from the era; split screen, Pop Art inspired repeating silhouettes on bold colour, ‘computer’ style fonts, great footage of analogue mainframe computers (that at the time would have seemed so modern) and overlapping translucent images with a wonderful sense of 3D for the time. As someone who loves Cold War iconography, this ticks a lot of boxes for me. Add to that a beautiful score by Richard Rodney Bennett, and this makes me very happy every time I watch it.