The Assassination Bureau (1969)

It’s 1908 in London, and Miss Sonia Winter (the great Diana Rigg), a strong-willed and staunch feminist who holds aspirations to become a journalist lays before the heads of a notable newspaper a story that will be sure to make a name for herself. She’s seemed to uncover an organization that offers a service of killing people for money, and apparently, they’ve been operating for some time. But this organization doesn’t just kill anybody. Bankrolled by newspaper editor Lord Bostwick (Telly Savalas), Miss Winter secures a meeting with the chairman of the organization known as the Assassination Bureau Limited, Ivan Dragomiloff (Oliver Reed). In his office he explains that per his bureau’s principles there must be a sound, moral justification for killing the person. They must truly deserve it. When asked who Miss Winter would like to have assassinated, she chooses none other than…Mr. Dragomiloff.

"this black comedy is quick and clever and isn’t preoccupied with explosive action"

While initially surprised by the rather peculiar selection, Mr. Dragomiloff doesn’t panic. Rather, he sees the reasoning behind it. This turn of events causes the chairman to see the reality of his bureau and how far they’ve diverged from their original intent that now has seemed to become more focused on gaining money and power than anything else. With a price on his head, Mr. Dragomiloff now sees an opportunity. He proposes to his bureau members: kill me or be killed by me. And so, his journey of fun and hijinks throughout Europe begins and even with Miss Winter (who is covering the story of his assassination, of course) in tow.

Had the film not been released in a post-JFK and MLK assassinated world, it’s satire and dark comedy would have probably gone over a lot better than the lead balloon that it was because, make no mistake, there’s a lot to like about Basil Dearden’s The Assassination Bureau. From the opening credits, you know you’re in the hands of someone who’s visual language has long been perfected. The exciting and precise camera movements, the expertly executed spoken and slapstick comedy, plus the pinpoint editing to match. The Assassination Bureau (1969)

The premise alone is very clever in it of itself. Assassin movies? Yeah, we’ve seen plenty, but this black comedy is quick and clever and isn’t preoccupied with explosive action like most of the assassin movies we see nowadays. No, here we get Reed embodying a perfectly silly, but respectable gentlemen that’s gleeful in his ridiculous disguises and swashbuckling stunts that steal the show. And all while we witness the hijinks, the betrayals, the corrupt plots and people, and all that, the film somehow is able to take a stab at the corrupted people in power - most of all embodied by the scheming Lord Bostwick, who we find out to be the vice chair of the bureau with his own plans to not only take over the business but to also send Europe into war for his own profit.

Overall, The Assassination Bureau is nothing but a good time. If you get nothing else out of it, you’ll at least be entertained by the pure silliness of the shenanigans in a story that turns quite ridiculous and explosive by the end of it. You’ll find something to enjoy. Trust me.

The Assassination Bureau is now available on Blu Ray courtesy of Arrow Video.

3/5 stars


The Assassination Bureau (1969)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Arrow Films
Available on Blu-ray
- May 2, 2023
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: LPCM Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Four young people fall in and of love (and sex) with each other while figuring out their lives in Paris. Émilie meets Camille who is attracted to Nora, who crosses paths with Amber. Three girls and a boy – they’re friends, sometimes lovers and often both. From acclaimed director Jacques Audiard, based on stories by Adrian Tomine.


Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the new restoration completed by Arrow Films is, overall, pretty decent. While the picture is mostly clear, the definition does leave a bit to be desired. Fine details aren’t able to be completely scene and the film grain, while not totally overbearing the whole picture, is a bit too loud at some points. The color grading is pleasant enough and does have moments of pop, especially when showing off the film’s great production design.


For the sound, the mono audio is, overall, acceptable. Dialogue, ambient noises, and the score are all heard clean and clear. Nothing super amazing, but nothing to really complain about.


Not a lot to dig into here, but the commentary and special features that accompany this release are delightfully educational and enjoyable as you have critics and historians dive into the history of the film and all of those involved in it.


  • Brand new audio commentary with authors Sean Hogan and Kim Newman

Special Features:

  • Right Film, Wrong Time, a 30-minute appreciation by critic, broadcaster and cultural historian Matthew SweetOriginal trailerImage galleryReversible sleeve featuring two original artwork choices

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 3/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3/5 stars


Film Details

The Assassination Bureau (1969)

MPAA Rating: PG.
110 mins
: Basil Dearden
Michael Relph; Jack London; Robert L. Fish
Oliver Reed; Diana Rigg; Telly Savalas
: Comedy | Drama
HE falls out of a zeppelin. SHE catches a live bomb. HE's trapped in a coffin. SHE's caught in a bordello. And it's all the start of a beautiful romance.
Memorable Movie Quote: "My mind is perfectly clear on one topic concerning us: All killing is wrong."
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 15, 2022 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 23, 1969
Synopsis: Anarchy reigns as Diana Rigg and Oliver Reed go head to head in a blackly comic caper that plays out against the colorful backdrop of Europe on the cusp of World War One.


The Assassination Bureau (1969)