Man, did this movie employ every stripper in the Los Angeles, or what? Seriously, the amount of barely-concealed T&A in this movie is astounding. I mean, the title sequence *alone* has not one, but three stripteases, and though there’s a lot of nekked ladies on screen, the naughty bits are always obscured in some way or another. While I appreciate the strategic requirements of that technique when people go to the trouble of doing it - like that Love, American Style episode that takes place entirely in a city of nudists - it does kind of begin to wear you down after a bit. It’s like FHM: The Movie!
I’m getting ahead of myself. Backing up a bit: When I was a little kid, I loved Spy Movies but didn’t quite understand them. I loved Get Smart, but never realized that it was supposed to be funny. But who doesn’t like spies? When I was a bit older, and go the joke, pretty much I only ever saw the *bad* spy movies on TV since the Bond Films - infrequently run in those days - always came on after my bedtime. I never quite got the context. I realized by this point they were supposed to be adventure comedies and maybe even parodies, but I was never quite sure of what they were making fun of. Imagine if you had never seen a Bond film, and had only the Austin Powers Trilogy to figure it out from. That was kinda’ like me at the time.
None of which really mattered by the time I was eleven or twelve. By that point, I’d figured out that girls were endlessly fascinating creatures that you just kind of wanted to sit and stare at all day long, but I hadn’t quite figured out why. Spy movies seemed a fine place to try and puzzle that out, though - acres and acres of unbelievably hot women in revealing clothing were always wandering about. Oh, yeah, and sometimes people get shot. What’s not to like?
My local UHF station showed “Spy Theater” on Sundays after church, about 2PM. This was just a random assemblage of whatever spy films they had on hand - the Flint movies, the Harry Palmer films, some of the Hitchcock flicks, the Cinema-length episodes of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E,” some random one-off films, and of course the Matt Helm movies. All these were shown evidently without a station censor bothering to screen them first. How bad could they be? They were sixties movies, after all - it’s not like there was anything dirty in ‘em.
Those Matt Helm movies, yikes!
Funny, goofball, lurid, luscious, adventurous, exciting, and literally overflowing with women who were literally overflowing from their clothes - I totally loved the hell out of these movies in the years between the original Battlestar Galactica and Galactica: 1980. They were everything a boy could want in those days. I watched ‘em all a few years ago, and at the loosing edge of my thirties, I wasn’t as impressed. They weren’t without their charms, but they weren’t all that and a bag of (Wiggling) hips either.
Last month, our obituary for Karl Malden http://www.republibot.com/content/obituary-karl-malden-1912-2009 gave way to a conversation about the Matt Helm movies, and talking to Dino Martin Peters (his website is here http://ilovedinomartin.blogspot.com/ ) led to me deciding to revisit the films and review them here on the site. The fact that there’s a spaceship in one of the movies places the entire series solidly within the Spy Fi subgenre, so it’s within our mandate, but I admit I’m a bit uncomfortable with this. Even though there’s nothing in these movies that you couldn’t show on TV as far back as the 1970s, there’s undeniably a kind of leering, smarmy quality to these films that puts them outside our normal tone for the site, there’s just no getting around that.
So now that you’ve been warned, on to the review:
PLAY BY PLAY:
We start out with Roger Carmel (Harry Mudd from Star Trek) scratching the name “Matt Helm” on to some bullets, then giving them to four gunsels. They put ‘em in their guns, and shoot the wall which starts the title sequence with the strippers, as I already said. Eventually she gets around to ripping her blouse open, with the title of the movie strategically covering her mommy-bits, and gives a naughty little downward ‘oh am I naked’ kind of surprised pouty smile expression that I have to admit is kinda’ fetching, even