Assassin [1973] – Ian Hendry Played A Government Assassin In This British Film Directed by Peter Crane [Production By Pemini Organisation/ Soundtrack By Zack Laurence]

Picture above: Ian Hendry in a scene from the film ‘Assassin’ [1973]

[Article Update] ‘Shoot Out’ by Zack Laurence – 2nd tune from the original film soundtrack discovered.

This article also includes a new video which features ‘Escape’ and ‘Shoot Out’ by Zack Laurence, taken from the film’s original soundtrack. I’ve not been able to find the film’s main title music yet – ‘Assassin Theme’ – but am working on it!

Assassin [1973] – Directed By Peter Crane

I received an interesting message from Gabriel Hershman recently, mentioning an email that he had received from someone who knows Peter Crane, who also worked on Assassin and who had helped Gabriel previously with some anecdotes for his biography on Ian Hendry.

Assassin is a 1973 British thriller film written by Michael Sloan, directed by Peter Crane and starring Ian Hendry, Edward Judd and Frank Windsor. Ian was cast in the lead role, an assassin hired by the British government to kill a Ministry of Defence official suspected of leaking secrets.

It received mixed reviews when it was released and seems to have subsequently disappeared and been ‘lost’ in the passage of time. The good news is that it isn’t lost, the BFI hold a copy of it in their vaults. The bad news is that they don’t have plans to release it anytime soon, but I am reliably informed that they will now be reviewing the copy that they do have – to assess it’s condition and it’s worthiness for release. Safe to say I am not holding my breath – well not just yet.

I tried to locate a copy of the film a couple of years ago and ended up exchanging several emails with Peter Crane himself. Peter wasn’t sure if he still had a copy or not and was in the US at the time I contacted him. That line of enquiry eventually came to a close and so Assassin was put on the back-burner. But there may just be a glimmer of hope. Whilst the BFI have no immediate [or distant] plans to release the film, Gabriel’s contact mentioned that there were some plans to release it as part of a box-set, possibly in the next couple of years.

Again, I wouldn’t hold your breath just yet, but the information is from a reliable source and a few things that I’ve since found out since about the Production Company – The Pemini Organisation – may yield further clues to this story.


The Pemini Organisation – Production Company

Assassin was produced by a company called The Pemini Organisation Limited. A British Company that appears to have been formed some time in the late 60s and was still trading in the late 70s/ early 80s.

The Pemini Organisation was responsible for producing three films in the 70s, all directed by Peter Crane, so that may give us a clue to finding out who now owns the rights to them and who may possibly be thinking of re-releasing them.

This is just pure conjecture at this stage, but if Assassin were to be re-released in a box-set, might it not be with the two other films produced by Pemini?

The three films are:

1. Hunted (1972) 

41 mins, Colour [Eastmancolor]

Starring June Ritchie and Edward Woodward.

A short thriller remade as Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Hunted: Part 1 (1988)

2. Assassin (1973) 

83 mins, Colour [Technicolor]

Starring Ian Hendry, Edward Judd, Frank Windsor and Ray Brooks.

3. Moments (1974)

102 mins, Colour [Eastmancolor]

Starring Keith Michell, Peter Samuelson, Angharad Rees Chrissy, Bill Fraser and Jeanette Sterke.

Plot: A depressed middle-aged man contemplates suicide while visiting the hotel resort where he spent happy moments with his parents in his youth. He meets a woman by chance and falls for her. Or does he?




Zack Laurence

Picture: Zack Laurence

Born in 1945, Zack Laurence is a British arranger and composer.

He is best known for his work on Assassin (1973), The Crystal Maze (1990), The Flame Trees of Thika (1981), Treasure Hunt (1982-1989) and Interceptor (1989-1990).

A member of Mr. Bloe and Dr. Teleney’s Incredible Plugged-In Orchestra, he is also known by his association with the Zack Laurence Orchestra and Zack Lawrence And His Orchestra.

Zack Laurence – Soundtrack From The film, ‘Assassin’ [1973]

The soundtrack for Assassin has been described as Blaxploitation funk although, by all accounts, the film itself is a classic British thriller.

It seems likely that the choice of music was inspired by the developing Blaxploitation film genre in the US in the early 70s, which was the first to feature soundtracks of funk and soul music. And that just adds to the mystery surrounding Assassin – a British thriller with a soundtrack which was very much of its time but transatlantic in inspiration. Could it have been a conscious decision to try and appeal to the US market or was it just an artistic decision by director Peter Crane and his team? A re-release of the film and an accompanying commentary would certainly help to answer these questions and many others too.

From Wikipedia:

Blaxploitation or blacksploitation is an ethnic subgenre of the exploitation film that emerged in the United States during the early 1970s. The films, while popular, suffered backlash for disproportionate numbers of stereotypical film characters showing bad or questionable motives including criminals, etc.

However, the genre does rank among the first in which black characters and communities are the heroes and subjects of film and television, rather than sidekicks or villains or victims of brutality. The genre’s inception coincides with the rethinking of race relations in the 1970s.

The soundtrack to Assassin is extremely difficult to find. A few of the original vinyl 33 1/3 rpm EP copies are held – and traded very occasionally – by collectors.

Track A1 – Assassin Theme
Track A2 – Escape
Track B1 – Shoot Out
Track B2 – Knock On My Door

‘Escape’ + ‘Shoot Out’ By Zack Laurence From Assassin [1973]

The video below has been updated and contains two tracks, ‘Escape’ [A-side, track 2] and Shoot Out [B-side, track 1] by Zack Laurence.

Picture: Assassin Soundtrack 33 1/3 rpm EP front cover featuring Ian Hendry

Picture: Assassin Soundtrack 33 1/3 rpm EP Back Cover.

Picture: Side One – Assassin [1973] Soundtrack 33 1/3 rpm EP.

Picture: Side One – Assassin [1973] Soundtrack 33 1/3 rpm EP.


Zack Laurence and Mr. Bloe

There’s also an interesting connection between Zack Laurence, Elton John, Top of The Pops and an unexpected hit!

Extract from Wikipedia:

Mr. Bloe was the name given to the musicians who performed the single “Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe”, which was a hit in 1970 in the UK for Dick James Music (DJM). These included Harry Pitch or Ian Duck on harmonica, and Zack Laurence on piano.

The tune “Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe” was written for the US studio group Wind, by Bo Gentry, Paul Naumann and Kenny Laguna. They released it as the B-side of their single “Make Believe” which, with Tony Orlando as lead singer, was a chart success in the US in 1969. According to co-writer Kenny Laguna:

“When “Make Believe”, the first Wind single was ready to be released, we needed a B-side. Our Buddah releases were known for their ridiculous B-sides, like A-side played backwards in order for the business dudes to copyright something with themselves as writers, even though they couldn’t write songs. We dusted off a backing track from a “Yummy Yummy”, “Chewy Chewy”, “Sugar Sugar”, “Money Money” wannabe song that was called something like “Bingo Bingo” and improvised a haphazard harmonica and melodica overdub for the B-side….”

Success in the UK

BBC Radio in the UK then unwittingly played the wrong side of the Wind single. It was played by Jimmy Savile on his Sunday afternoon radio show Savile’s Travels. It was heard by Stephen James, of Dick James Music, who wanted to release the tune in the UK but could not obtain the rights. He had the tune covered by other musicians including Elton John on piano, but did not like that version. It was then rearranged by Zack Laurence and re-recorded with Laurence replacing Elton John on piano.

The tune was released in the UK on 9 May 1970, reaching number 2 in the UK Singles Chart on 4 July 1970. Zack Laurence then performed the tune on Top of the Pops with Ian Duck (harmonica), Dee Murray (bass), Roger Pope (drums) and Caleb Quaye (guitar), who went on to form the band Hookfoot. Some sources credit the harmonica part on the actual recording to Harry Pitch which Pitch later confirmed in his filmed interview with – Pitch then went on as the harmonica player to perform the theme tune for Last of the Summer Wine. “Groovin’ With Mr Bloe” spent 18 weeks on the UK chart. The lack of an obvious performer made the recording mysterious and it became a favourite of Morrissey who was then 11 years old.

The Mr. Bloe single also included two instrumentals written by Elton John — “Get Out Of This Town” and “71-75 New Oxford Street”,[6] with John playing piano on both, backed by most of the members of Hookfoot. Other singles, “Mr. Bloe” and “Curried Soul” were then released. The follow up single, “Curried Soul”, failed to chart, and an album, also entitled Groovin’ with Mr. Bloe, was released in 1970 but flopped, leaving the act as a one-hit wonder.

Assassin [1973]

Further details:

Assassin [1973] – IMDb

Assassin [1973] – Wikipedia


Ian Hendry as The Assassin
Edward Judd as MI5 Control
Frank Windsor as John Stacy
Ray Brooks as Edward Craig
John Hart Dyke as Janik
Verna Harvey as The Girl
Mike Pratt as Matthew
Frank Duncan as Luke
Mike Shannon as Alcoholic
Paul Whitsun-Jones as Drunk Man
Molly Weir as Drunk Woman
Andrew Lodge as Back-up Man
Peter Hawkins as Passport Officer
Avril Fenton as Barmaid
Caroline John as Ann


I’ll keep you posted if I hear any more news about Assassin.


Until next time,

Neil Hendry
Editor, Official Tribute To Ian Hendry

Further Reading

A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography:

Read: ‘Send in the Clowns – The Yo Yo Life Of Ian Hendry’ by Gabriel Hershman

Send In The Clowns - The Yo Yo Life of Ian Hendry

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