FATHOM

 
Full Name: Fathom Harvill
Nationality: American
Organization: CELTS
Occupation Agent

Creator: Larry Forrester
Time Span: 1967 - 1967
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Fathom is an agent with CELTS.
       At least she is in the first book. In the second, unpublished, and likely unfinished, it is probable that the author intended she would continue to work for that organization but we will never know for sure and the adventure depicted in the movie made based on the second escapade makes no mention of CELTS or Fathom being an agent for anyone.
       But in the first book she is decidedly an agent, well trained and given a specific mission to perform. That does not mean she is a voluntary operative, though. Her recruitment came when she was nabbed shortly after killing the SOB who had gotten her hooked on heroin and loaned her out to numerous friends. "Work for us or go to prison" was the word from the CELTS leader at the time.
       The question was presented after she had gone through a very rough cold-turkey weaning from the addiction she had, complements of a nasty Hollywood producer who had wooed her to L.A. and then systematically gotten her hooked on smack. After many months of abuse and being an unwilling plaything, she put several bullets into the bastard and fled. CELTS agents were waiting for her.
       Before her ill-advised trip to the La-La-Land, Fathom, born Jane Elisabeth Harvill, born in Sweden though a British subject, was a 22-year old daughter of a British diplomat. She was raised all over Europe as his father's foreign service took him to posts throughout that continent and she grew up speaking several languages as a native and a couple of more passably. She was an intelligent, energetic, happy young woman whose one mistake was believing a glib talking charmer.
       After she dispatched her abuser, Fathom's life took another drastic turn and she began a career as an operative for "Counter-Espionage (Long Term Security)", a British-American organization tasked with looking ahead to problems that were on the horizon and stopping them before they grew.
       She would become a very good agent for CELTS, assuming she lived long enough.

BOOKS

Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1967
Last Appearance:1967

       Two books are listed but only one was published. According to the information I've read, the author was involved in writing the second book when it became the basis for the upcoming Raquel Welch adventure movie.
       I do not know why the second book was never finished and therefore never published. I wonder, though, if it was because the screenplay, penned by someone else, was so drastically different from the character in the first book.

1 A Girl Called Fathom A Girl Called Fathom
Written by Larry Forrester
Copyright: 1967

Forced to join CELTS or go to prison, Fathom is put through rapid but thorough training before heading into the field to stop a Soviet plot to disrupt vital talks.

2 Fathom Heavensent Fathom Heavensent
Written by Larry Forrester
Copyright: 1967

Never published - likely never finished. Fathom goes up against opponents from the UK, US, and Armenia (working with the Chinese) for possession of a valuable object.

MOVIES

Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1967
Last Appearance:1967

       Though the movie starred the incredibly alluring Raquel Welch wearing bikinis so wonderfully, it did not do very well in the box office so a sequel was never made.

1 Fathom Fathom
Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Writers: Lorenzo Semple Jr., Larry Forrester
Actors: Raquel Welch as Fathom Harvill, Anthony Franciosa as Peter Merriwether, Ronald Fraser as Colonel Campbell, Richard Briers as Lt. Timothy Webb, Clive Revill as Sergi Serapkin
Released: 1967

Fathom is a member of an American skydiving competition group in Europe for a tournament when she is pressured by a British agent to help stop an Armenian smuggler from helping the Chinese move a valuable, possibly weapon-related object. An American operative is also after it and may want to help or kill Fathom.

MY COMMENTS

       If you watched the movie and actually listened to the dialogue (a challenging mission for any red-blooded male considering one of the speakers was Raquel and she was usually dressed in a skimpy bathing suit [thank you, my dear!]) you would get no concept of the trained, deadly agent depicted in the first book.
       The Fathom of the movie was a resourceful, intelligent but tad naive member of a skydiving group, not an agent of an intelligence organization. It is possible that in the original plot she might have used that as a cover but that is speculation. The man chosen to craft the screenplay went a totally different direction with the story and the Fathom of the book(s) morphed into the Fathom of the movie.
       I was a couple years too young to have seen the movie when it came out, assuming it ever made it to South Dakota. I saw it maybe a decade later likely on a late late show and can only remember the gorgeous Raquel. (And Tony Franciosa calling her 'Poppet' all the time). I did not know that she had originally been slated to be an agent and would never have guessed it. It was a mildly entertaining fluff of a movie outside Ms. Welch's charms.
       Over the many years following I saw numerous times in used bookstores the paperback of the first novel but I mistakenly thought it was a renamed novelization of the movie and so never picked it up and gave it a read. It was only recently when a fellow spy-fi fan told me a bit more that I got the book and was surprised.
       The first book is really quite good. The writing is professional and the characters interesting and the plot quite sophisticated. There are a couple of good twists in it and a whole lot of very intense action. While it would not come near the level of one of the masters at the time, it most certainly would not be called fluff.
       It is worth a read. And the movie is worth a watch (well, it really isn't but Raquel definitely is!).

GRADE

My Grade: B

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