The Smarm Is Back! Cheeze, too. It’s quite odd - two weeks ago I said the first film was like a home movie shot in Hugh Heffner’s basement. The second one was a vast improvement, and far less embarrassing all around, and you’d think the producers would want to continue on from where the standard the second film made, but no. Perhaps they were put off by the thought of a nearly-monogamous Matt Helm? Who can tell. The bottom line is that less than four months after the release of “Murderer’s Row” and only about nine months after “The Silencers,” the third Matt Helm movie was released. Man, they were really cranking ‘em out, weren’t they? In many ways, this film is the best one of the series, and in some other ways it’s the final film in the series, even though there’s one more released after it, but we’ll get to that in a bit. In the meantime:
PLAY BY PLAY:
Remember how the first movie started off with two-and-a-half strippers and a more-or-less stupid theme song sung by an unexpectedly hot Cyd Charisse? And then the second movie began with a really cool instrumental theme and some interesting, if not particularly eye-popping sixties graphics? Well, in this movie we ditch both of those concepts and instead start out with a more-or-less random Boyce and Hart song that includes the title, but has nothing to do with the movie (And if that link doesn’t work, try here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pijy1CGqzfI )
In any event, we start off with the launch of a USAF Flying Saucer testing out a revolutionary new electromagnetic drive system. “If this work,” Says Mac, “The planets are right next door and the stars are just around the block. In orbit, things go wonky with the saucer, however, and it makes a forced landing - without the pilot’s cooperation - in the jungles of Mexico. The astronaut takes off their helmet, revealing it’s a woman, and opens the hatch. An off-putting blonde dude sticks his head in and smiles at her.
Cut to: a secret Ice training facility somewhere in the desert (Presumably near Vegas), where a bunch of stacked female types are training to become ICE agents. One of the instructors demonstrates a metal-disintegrating ray, which causes men’s pants to fall off. (“I prefer my way better” one of the cheezeheaded new spies says) Meanwhile, Helm is upstairs making out with yet another female agent, who then shoots him with her brassiere gun. She just wanted him to keep him abreast of the times. She assures him it’s safe, but he beats a hasty retreat because “Those things always come in pairs.” Yeah, the dialog is really like that.
Walking across the campus, Helm meets Sheila Sommers, who’s got a long blonde fright wig and grey makeup. A couple nurses chase after her, and catch her. They explain that she went on a mission, no one knows what happened, and when she came back she was a basket case. Helm is mildly put off by this, since they’d done an undercover op years before pretending to be husband and wife. Mac calls for Helm, informing him there’s a new case coming up involving Sheila, and he’s sending Lovie Kravesit along with more information. Lovey arrives, and she and Helm do it in the steam bath. Helm then does some ‘orient express’ style training on a train cabin set where he undresses another of the trainees in less than a second, and then a foreign agent shows up and tries to kill Helm. Helm, thinking it’s part of the exercise, isn’t taking it seriously, but Mac shows up and saves his life. The two of them quickly realize that the only way the foreigner could have gotten in is if one of their own people is bent, and quickly run to save Sheila from an evil male nurse who’s trying to kill her.
Snapping out of her somewhat wonky mental state, and having had a makeover from a stereotypically gay hairdresser in the interim, she identifies Helm as her husband, and thinks they two of them are actually married.
Mac breifs Helm about the saucer - their only lead is a Mexican beer jingle that Mac recognizes as a dance remix of the anthem for a European terrorist organization. The Beer company is a guy named Quintana (Kurt Kasznar, who played Fitzhugh on “Land of the giants” - remember that one?) and he explains that only Sheila can fly