Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Silencers

Oh Matt Helm. I usually don’t start my reviews in such a way, but what an awful movie series this turned out to be. I’ve watched all four of the Matt Helm films over the last week, and frankly this one’s the best. And it's not great. The Silencers is the first of four spy spoof films that star Dean Martin as the character, Matt Helm. He plays a part-time agent for ICE (Intelligence and Counter Espionage), where he receives the occasional assignment from.

The films have little in common with their book counterparts, though The Silencers is one of the better attempts during the 60s at a good spy film to spoof the success of James Bond. Our Man Flint is a movie in its own category, where the films themselves are spoofs of the genre, but James Coburn plays it almost completely straight. Dino does not take the same route in this film or the subsequent sequels.

This film is full of meta-jokes, constant mugging for the camera and audience, and cracks about how bad Frank Sinatra music is compared to Dean Martin music. Much of the soundtrack is sung by Dino himself.

There’s not much of a plot here, so I should be able to sum it up in a brief sentence. The bad guys from the Bureau of International Government and Order (BIG O) want to start WWIII.

The main bad guys are played by Victor Buono, Robert Webber, Arthur O'Connell, and Roger C. Carmel (Harry Mudd!). They all play up their roles, with Buono in fake Chinese makeup akin to the old Charlie Chan films. James Gregory (Ursus in Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Sen. Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate) plays MacDonald, head of ICE.

Helm’s partner in this spy film is played by Daliah Lavi. Other “Helm Women” are Cyd Charisse and Stella Stevens. Charisse, performs in the second half of the opening credits singing the song "The Silencer" during the opening credits.

If you know what you’re getting into, the film isn’t bad. If you’re completely oblivious and believe that this is anything other than a corny, cheesy spoof, where Dino breaks character multiple times and where the plot doesn’t make a lick of sense, this film isn’t for you. If you didn’t like this one, the rest definitely aren’t for you.

** 1/2 out of *****

1 comment:

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie Chris, man thanks for helpin' spread the word 'bout this series of Dinoflicks....the Matt Helm capers are not great films, but certainly our Dino is at his greatest playin' his oh so cool, hip, and randy self as super cool agent Matt Helm....never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool...oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth....