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Once Upon a Spy (1980)

Ted Danson plays a computer genius who gets involved in the theft of an important N.A.S.A. computer, then thrust into the world of espionage with Sir Christopher Lee.


Ivan Nagy


Jimmy Sangster (teleplay), Lemuel Pitkin (story) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ted Danson ... Jack Chenault
Mary Louise Weller ... Paige Tannehill
Christopher Lee ... Marcus Valorium
Eleanor Parker ... the Lady
Leonard Stone ... Dr. Webster
Terry Lester ... Rudy
Jo McDonnell ... Susan
Lillian Müller ... Christine (as Yuliis Ruval)
Irena Ferris Irena Ferris ... Greta
Burke Byrnes ... Burkle
Gary Dontzig Gary Dontzig ... Klaus
Bobb Hopkins ... Hans
Vicky Perry Vicky Perry ... the Cashier
John Hostetter ... Chief (as John R. Hostetter)
William Wintersole ... Commander


Ted Danson plays a computer genius who gets involved in the theft of an important N.A.S.A. computer, then thrust into the world of espionage with Sir Christopher Lee.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Attention James Bond Fans! This is Your Kind of Movie! See more »


Action | Drama | Thriller


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Release Date:

19 September 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lethal Games See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Just before the car is taken away by magnet below helicopter, another helicopter is visible just off to the right. Few seconds later the second helicopter has vanished. See more »


Jack Chenault: You're leaving?
Paige Tannehill: Chenault, I fondly hope that I never have to set eyes on you again.
See more »


References You Only Live Twice (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

ONCE UPON A SPY {TV} (Ivan Nagy, 1980) **1/2
1 September 2015 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

This continues the string of bad-to-middling pictures Christopher Lee lent his services to after he went the Hollywood route; while not terrible as such – at the very least, it reunited him with former Hammer scribe Jimmy Sangster – the end result is best described as terminally bland.

Rather than imitating the James Bond formula (though John Cacavas' score certainly throws several cues in that direction), the film seems like a belated addition to the myriad espionage TV series of the 1960s yet fully embracing the absurd obsession with technology that was redolent of the era in which it was made; interestingly, Lee's shrinking of a cumbersome computer to portable size can be seen as a prophetic indication of the extensive progress achieved in this particular field! He plays a reclusive tycoon, bound all the way through in a snazzy missile-carrying(!) wheelchair, whose everyman nemesis (Ted Danson) not only happens to be an old rival but ultimately contrives to hoist the older man with his own petard. Aiding the protagonist is a female secret agent (a relationship which, typically, starts off on the wrong foot and inevitably ends in romance) and, to further accentuate the feminist viewpoint, Eleanor Parker fills in for the Agency Head.

The film, then, is not unentertaining for what it is and, if anything, manages a nod to both Hitchcock (Danson is about to be eliminated when a crowd of tourists bursts upon the scene and he joins them on their way out towards safety) and the cult TV series THE PRISONER (hero and villain conduct a deadly board game utilizing human pieces).

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