“↑Billion Dollar Brain” (Russell 1967) is a cold war spy thriller movie based on the ↑novel of the same name by British writer ↑Len Deighton (1966). Said novel is one of a series starring an unnamed secret agent, working for British intelligence, as the central protagonist. During the 1960s three movies were made, based on three novels of the series. In the movies the protagonist has a name, ↑Harry Palmer, and is played by ↑Michael Caine.
Both, the novels and the movies, somewhat counter ↑Ian Fleming‘s urbane character ↑James Bond and his glitzy high society universe. Deighton renders the spook trade far more down-to-earth and Palmer is an anti-hero, plagued by e.g. his service’s bureaucracy. Apart from the lead character two novels (and movies) of the series have cyberpunkish issues at their respective cores. In “The IPCRESS File” (↑Deighton 1962, ↑Furie 1965) it’s brainwashing, and in “Billion Dollar Brain” it’s a supercomputer.
Leo Newbigen (↑Karl Malden), an old friend of Harry’s, works for an elusive organization which our hero’s superiors deem to be a thread. So Harry gets himself recruited in order to infiltrate the organization undercover.
Newbigen brings Palmer to a chateau outside Helsinki and leads him up into the attic. There a computer terminal is located, built into a writing desk. As the two reach the last steps, and Palmer gets sight of the terminal, Newbigen says: “Harry, meet the boss!” and continues:
“Someone has to be here every day at this time, for instructions.”
“What does it do, tell fortunes?” Harry asks in reply.
“It makes fortunes,” Leo goes on, “Ours.”
After a little reflection he continues his explanation:
“Just a little toy, but it puts the MI5 and the CIA back into the stone age. We feed it information, it passes the information on to its big brother and back come our orders.
Cuts out thinking.”
Later in the movie Harry gets to see the terminal’s big brother, located in the US, and is invited to a tour by “General” Midwinter (Ed Begley) himself, head of the evil organization and proprietor of the billion dollar brain. During that tour the self-styled “General” barks a golden cold war plus cyberpunk sentence: