Brian Clemens’ “Sleeper” is certainly an entertaining story, but I bet the story of how they pulled it off would be even more fun. In this one, our heroes are given the antidote for a demonstration of a “sleeping dust,” leaving them the only people awake in a huge part of London after criminals dust the city with the stuff in order to pull off a grand series of bank and jewelry store robberies at the break of dawn on a Sunday morning. So they mixed some “nobody’s moving” establishing shots with some first-light filming on residential streets, some later-light filming in deserted areas, and some backlot shooting behind a studio and it’s altogether seamless.
I don’t think it’s quite as plausible as it pretends to be, because surely more than one police car would have driven into the affected area at some point this morning. I also quibble that Purdey didn’t think things through like she should. After knocking two henchmen, played by familiar seventies faces Prentis Hancock and Mark Jones, out cold, I think she probably should have disarmed them, because they come to and then start shooting at Steed and Gambit.
You might also make the argument that the comedy bit where Steed and Gambit get their turn to clobber Hancock and Jones is a bit out of place in a story that otherwise looks and feels deadly serious, but they knew what they were doing. It’s a bit broad, but our son loved the scene, and guffawed as our heroes reveal that they aren’t sleeping at all. So I think it’s just a hair shy of perfect, but it’s so fun to look at the sleeping city in all its mid-seventies grime and glory, and enjoy guessing where the plot would go next. And I have always loved how the only thing that gives the unflappable John Steed a moment’s pause in this crisis is that Gambit breaks into a pub to get the two of them beers as they ponder their next move, and since he didn’t pilfer any glasses, Steed has to drink straight from the bottle.