[Originally published in Movietone News 44, September 1975]
Undercovers Hero is a mess. In the great tradition of messes, its title doesn’t make sense, although it does serve to convey a category of leeringly mutual understanding between filmmaker and filmwatcher, exploiter and exploitee. If the title actually referred to anyone, it would have to be Undercovers Heroines, thereby designating the half-dozen or so filles de joie who service the clientele of a Parisian brothel that is almost a national shrine and who, when history, duty, and coincidence converge to form a ramshackle ménage-à-trois in the France of 1940, turn Free French agents and begin giving their Nazi occupiers sendoffs beyond their wildest expectations. But far from being Undercovers Heroines, Undercovers Hero isn’t even Soft Beds, Hard Battles, the movie that the Boulting brothers (once-beloved auteurs of Private’s Progress, I’m All Right, Jack, etc.) made in 1973. What was surely already a queasy playing-fast-and-loose with both underground legend and the (if we may make so irreverent) conventions of history has been bludgeoned into a new misshape so puerile, so predictable, so facilely dumb that it crushes rather than enhances any hope of healthily satirical payoff.