Ipcress File boardgame - 1965

A unique example of the marketing of Harry Palmer

In 1965 Milton Bradley (MB) Games of the USA bought out a board game based on The Ipcress File, clearly hoping to ride on the coat tails of the commercial success of the movie in the cinemas in the US. The is definitely a game based on the film - not on the box. It is in effect an early example of a movie 'tie-in': images from the film's marketing materials are used - presumably under license - and on the box is the legend: 'Harry Palmer, the cool British agent'. The illustration is exactly the same as would have been familiar to cinema goers on cinema foyer placards.

The box cover, featuring images from the film posters designed by Raymond Hawkey, includes Michael Caine as the 'cool' British Agent Harry Palmer and also Major Dalby. The board game board itself also displays the simple format and other images taken directly from the marketing shots for the US release of the film.

In form it is a chasing game. Up to four players move around a board representative of scenes from the film. Players are gven spy assignments, but one player secretly becomes a double agent. Those playing are required to solve their assignments so that they can identify the double agent. Any player who knows who the double agent is then 'licensed to kill' [a throwback to the success of the Bond character, perhaps] the double agent and thereby win the game.

It is difficult to determine MB's marketing plan. The movie was aimed at an adult audience, perhaps reaching some teenagers. Yet the game is marked as 'from 10 to adult' and it is difficult to imagine many adults playing the game as it is incredibly simple and, frankly, a little lacking in sustained interest.

In truth, the game is a little dull; but as a marketing tie-in and ephemeral item, it has interest.

Fancy a go?

The 'assignment cards' given to players give such simple spying tasks as: 'check records', 'pay informer', 'stake-out', 'follow suspect' and 'evidence to laboratory'.

Not the toughest of boardgames!