Monday, September 24, 2012


Matt Helm (Dean Martin) is a playmate photographer who is also a secret agent, and Miss January seems to have killed him in his own bed with a death ray—leading to a funeral with many shapely ladies in attendance. But actually Helm has faked his death in order to go after archvillain Julian Wall (Karl Malden) who has kidnapped Dr. Solaris, inventor of the Helio-Beam which has the potential to destroy the earth using the rays of the sun. On the French Riviera, his sexy contact is killed but he meets up with Suzie (Ann-Margaret), Solaris' daughter and together they head off to Wall's private island and into his palatial house with tons of secret panels, strange weapons and torture chambers to save Suzie's dad and the world. This is the only Matt Helm movie I've seen and I'm not inclined to search out others. I know it's supposed to be a parody of the Bond films—and Mike Myers seems to have found some inspiration for Austin Powers from this film—but Martin is kind of a buzz kill, sleepwalking through his role even when others, like Ann-Margaret, are trying hard. There's an amusing scene with the band Dino, Desi & Billy in which Dino (Martin's real son) leans over and says, "Hey, now you’re swingin, dad!" I liked a What's My Line reference: "I deal in services and I'm bigger than a breadbox." There is also a thuggish bad guy with a nifty mirrored plate on the top of his head. Other than that, a disappointment, for die-hard 60s movie fans only. [TCM]


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