Tuesday, 2 April 2013

From the Video Vault of Forgotten Films: "The Wrecking Crew" 1968 A guilty pleasure movie

This is a time capsule movie for the late sixties. Released at the end of 1968, this was the final of the Matt Helm spy spoof series, although the end credits promise that Matt will return in "The Ravagers". Dino got bored and it shows. He looks like he is going through the motions. He was in his fifties and looks silly with Sharon Tate (nearly 30 years younger). Sharon had great comedic talent as well as stunning looks. A few months later the Manson tribe came along. But I don't want to dwell on this.
Sharon Tate plays a klutzy agent (similar to Stella Stevens role in the first movie in the franchise). "The Silencers" (1966) was the best, but that's not saying much. Phil Karlson directed both.

The plot involves a gold heist in Denmark (looking a lot like California and the backlot), but you don't need to worry about that. Basically Dean Martin cruises (sleepwalks?) through the movie on the trail of his glamorous costars (Tina Louis - Ginger from "Gilligan's Island", Nancy Kwan (playing the evil Yu Rang, best intentional joke in the movie) and the statuesque Elke Sommer (nearly falling out of her low cut white gown).
The villain, Nigel Green, is English, of course (a prerequisite for this sort of movie).
Remember when car scenes used back projection? Matt and his boss are jiggling up and down in the back seat of a Lincoln like they're in a bouncy castle. The crew must have got carried away, jiggling the mock up car on the springboard. Perhaps Dino or John Larch was rude to them on set.

The musical score is integral to the fun. Composer Hugo Montenegro wrote infectious themes ("I Dream of Jeannie", "The Partridge Family", the third Matt Helm movie "The Ambushers"). His score is very Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66. The opening title song "House of Seven Joys" written by pros Mack David and Frank DeVol is worth seeing the movie for (complementing Wayne Fitzgerald's very sixties/split screens opening titles). The whole of 1968 comes flooding back us babyboomers. The lyrics are a worry, though: "Ah so, very, very nice".
Titles flash across the screen to show this is a groovy movie: "DENMARK.....NOW!!!!"  "ANOTHER PART OF U.S. ...... NOW!!!"
Bruce Lee was used as the karate adviser and a very young Chuck Norris has a walk-on part in the House of 7 Joys scene (blink and you'll miss him).
The 'modern' technology is fun (the portable helicopter is a rip-off of Little Nelly in "You Only Live Twice"), the villains' communication system is all giant TV screens, camera placed seemingly everywhere, suitcase size backpacks with walkie-talkies to communicate with Count Orsini.
The set design is gaudy and kitsch (look for the fake grass that rolls back in the count's sumptuous mansion),
Matt photographs models dressed in outlandish costumes (looks like the same designer as the "Springtime for Hitler" number). It is hard to look lascivious in a turtle neck with a bit of a paunch.
This movie is a guilty pleasure delight.

P.S. Play the drinking game while watching:
Dino ogling females, using a sexist pun = 1 sip
Dino mentioning booze = 1 sip
Dino looking bored = 2 sips

Why is this post so popular in Poland? Spammers? Or connoisseurs of crap movies?

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