I SAW A Film!

The title is just a kind of joke, revealed by the opening credits. A joke that bachelors like to level at women who are of an aggressive mind to marry and produce families (aren’t they all?). We men are just goofy shills to the wily ladies who trick us into this strict Judeo-Christian architecture of proper sexual relations and baby-making. The film however, has nothing at all to do with this opening cute song with go-go dancing hotties in bathing suits, and instead involves the international stealing of an American prototype flying-saucer spaceship, loosely based on a James Bond plot, because, well, this is a spy spoof. It’s the third of a series. I’ll likely be digging into the rest soon.

Dean Martin slurs and bumps his way through some spiffy, stylish “futurismo” sets and faux-rock sound tracks. My friends, there is no better movie than these sixties spy-spoofs, especially when starring such iconic “bad boy” entertainment stars as Martin. He was fifty by the time they made this film and he certainly looks every minute of it. There are plenty of references to alcohol and song as he wisecracks even at the worst of the killings. I do get that we’re not really supposed to imagine the violence is real, it’s more cartoonish, but I still always get a jolt when some poor sap takes a fall off a building and the response is an, “Ooo, that looked like it hurt.” followed by a comic face.

Martin is Matt Helm, photographer and spy guy, and he’s on the case of the missing flying saucer. In the meantime he has to navigate some femme fatales and some gruesome thugs. There are a few surprise weapons, the lipstick to kiss drug application, the bra that hides a gun that shoots would-be maulers, and a “ray-gun” that, well, it can do basically anything. One of its impressive tricks is to attach wires to people and lift them into the air. It also might deliver some scotch.

As always the fun of these films lies in the ode to the era’s styles and the rather prudish and immature sexuality that they always impart, while the ladies just look amazing. I still think James Coburn did this best as Flint, but the many films that were made in the wake of the success of the serious Bond fetish are still practically much more fun than the sour straight play. It was interrupted by Roger Moore as he tried to bring the franchise into the realm of fun and camp (which it desperately needed), only to be replaced by a slew of, in subsequent decades, more and more severe power-spy films. I’m never sure which is better the straight man or the comic, sometimes the sincerity is actually far funnier than anything Woody Allen or Peter Sellers could have invented. And don’t fall for the gloss of more recent films, they only seem glossy to us because we are living alongside them as products, soon enough these glossy films age and we’re left wondering what the hell it was we thought all that parkour was about!

The Ambushers is a sweet sweet freebie on Prime. Stay Tuned for more Dean Martin fun! He looks just like Sterling Archer from Archer, which is probably where Archer got Archer.

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