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THE SILENCERS was the first in a line of spy films starring the
legendary Dean Martin, but it will probably be enjoyed more by fans of
old Dino than by fans of the genre. For one thing, there's no way it
can be taken seriously as an action-adventure, with all of the star's
mugging and leering, his double entendres, and frequent song parodies
that come out of nowhere. But neither is it really a comedy, since
there is a lot of realistic violence and mayhem.
Rather, it hovers back and forth and in between the two, a world in which Martin is completely at home as the all too casual superspy Matt Helm, agent for ICE (Intelligence and Counter Espionage). You know that he'll meander along in his own inimitable way, boozing, joking, and scoring, until he saves the world at film's end. If you accept that, then you can kick back and enjoy the show for its low-brow humor and the adequate action.
Forget the plot. I'm not sure that I can explain much beyond relating that the evil BIG O (Bureau of International Government and Order) is out to start WWIII between the superpowers. The main bad guys are played by Victor Buono (made up to be Chinese!), Robert Webber, and Arthur O'Connell. Each of them have done far better work elsewhere, and there's nothing in their roles here that couldn't have been handled by a call to central casting.
The ladies are another matter. Helm is joined by a partner, played by Daliah Lavi (in a step down from the previous year's LORD JIM), who tries very hard in her role. Making a better impression are Cyd Charisse and Stella Stevens. Charisse, the only female co-star in Martin's "over forty" age bracket, proves that she's still got it with a libido-raising routine during the credits, and turns up again later as an exotic dancer who passes along some vital microfilm during her act.
Stevens really livens things up, as a redhead who is suspected of being an enemy agent because she's the girlfriend(?) of Webber, and happens to wind up with the microfilm. She's innocent (well, at least of being a spy) but gets dragged along, accompanying Helm on his mission. Later on, her character turns out to be not quite so dumb, and does her part to battle the bad guys and save the world. While Helm is singlehandedly mowing down the enemy, she shows more ingenuity using her favorite new toy, the reverse-firing gun (a clever weapon, as you'll see).
Again, this film will be enjoyed if you know what to expect, and you'll know what to expect if you know Dino, who played Helm the way he played himself. If you're a fan of his well-worn persona, then that's probably good enough. Along with his easygoing style and humor, throw in assorted action sequences, and many beautiful women (especially sexy Stevens, who does a lot with her role), and you've got THE SILENCERS. It succeeds as very passable entertainment, and is certainly the best of the entire Matt Helm series.
I'm a Dean Martin fan so I may be biased but I really enjoyed this goofy spy parody. Martin parodies not only the Bond genre but also his own character as a super suave playboy. However, I would have to say that the real mastery of this kind of spoof would still be found in the "Our Man Flint" movies with James Coburn. There wit is a bit sharper and their humor is over-the-top without being quite so goofy.
The first in the Matt helm series; some say the best of all the James Bond
spoofs. Violence and humor are equally mixed, as they are in the Bond
pictures. *The Silencers* probably has the most alluring collection of
femmes fatales as Hollywood has ever assembled. Klutzy (or is she really?)
Stella Stevens, brunette Dahlia Lavi, blond Nancy Kovack, and dancer Cyd
Charisse all have important roles. It is not giving away too much to say
that of these four women, two are good, two are bad, and three of them
suffer the fate of getting shot to death at surprising moments.
A bit of trivia: Beverly Adams, Helm's curvaceous secretary, married Yvres St. Laurent. And deadly Nancy Kovack married conductor Zubin Mehta, the lucky devil. Kovack, clad in only her high heeled shoes and one of Martin's white shirts, tries to seduce him into coming back to work for ICE, his old outfit. It is perhaps the most erotic three minute scene in any spy movie.
He's super spy Matt Helm.All the girls love him and all the men envy him.And some want to kill him.In the 1960's they made four Matt Helm movies.The Silencers (1966) is the first one of them directed by Phil Karlson.In this movie Matt Helm's job is to prevent WWIII.Not an easy job to do, except for Matt Helm.Matt Helm movies were James Bond parodies.They did the same Austin Powers did some decades later.And this agent could also sing! The actor who portrayed Matt Helm was super cool Dean Martin.The leading lady of this first movie was portrayed by super sexy Stella Stevens (Gail).Daliah Lavi plays Tina.The singing and dancing beauty Cyd Charisse is Sarita.The movie history has pretty much forgotten these movies.I found The Silencers rather entertaining.Matt Helm movies look very 60's.It's probably the nostalgia that raises the value of these movies.And the super cool Dean Martin.
I recently bought the DVD, and I forgot how much fun it was. It's not rocket science at all, and one could argue that even as an obvious spy spoof (in the best Bond and Flint traditions) it hiccups a bit throughout its own pretensions: Dean Martin's photographer-as-spy is properly cool, but there's a fine line between being laid-back and appearing to sleep on camera. (I could also say something about a modern audience being more than a bit startled at the immense objectifying of women throughout the whole film, but society is currently enjoying a renaissance of all things politically INcorrect and telling the rest of us to shut up- so I'll shut up.) Martin's female co-stars are all a smörgåsbord of beauty and sex appeal- every last one of them, but the one who seems to have emerged with the strongest impression is Stella Stevens' accident-prone klutz (whose airhead personality got on my nerves after a while, but I cannot deny that she looked fantastic as a redhead). For me, I preferred the enigma that is Daliah Lavi (a black-haired siren of Mideastern gorgeousness), who emerges a double agent and semi-lover of Helm's. The film does two brilliant things which take its visual appeal to dizzying heights: It launches the film with clever opening credits which peek under a bevy of gorgeous strippers, each doing a 'legitimate' strip-tease (no true nudity). Ending the strip parade is the film's other secret weapon: Cyd Charisse. I love that TPTB had the foresight to acknowledge a younger and older demographic at the same time- while simultaneously spotlighting one of filmdom's greatest dancers in a cameo (at the age of 45)- with the longest, most gorgeous legs in history. After singing the title song Charisse emerges a second time about 37 minutes into the film (in an important plot point) to perform a stunning dance in a Vegas nightclub to the Vikki Carr song "In Santiago-" then disappears much too quickly. Otherwise, there is a lot of fun with Martin poking fun at his own persona: many songs become sexual double-entendre, an audio cameo by Sinatra is quickly nixed, and so forth.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an amusing film and Stella Stevens is just wonderful. There's a great scene where she has a special pistol that fires backwards, and pretends to give up, and hand over the gun to the enemy guy, who attempts to shoot her, thus shooting himself. And STella is a major babe.
Yep, that's the premise, and the beginning to the silliest spy series,
before a certain dentally-challenged International Man of Mystery
Dean Martin starred as Matt Helm, the lead character in a series of novels by Donald Hamilton. The books were serious spy adventures; but, there is nothing serious about the film series. Dean plays it tongue-in-cheek, often making fun of his own image and rivalry with fellow Rat Packer Frank Sinatra. The films are filled with strange characters and silly gadgets.
Martin has fun with the role and keeps the film rolling along, but Stella Stevens makes it memorable. She is sexy as hell, but is such a lovable klutz that she dominates every scene. Victor Buono gets to chew the most scenery this side of his Batman appearances.
The gadgets make James Bond look like a documentary: a gun that shoots backward unless the trigger is pushed, exploding buttons, a station wagon with a fold down bed and bar, and Helm's many household appliances.
These films were anything but serious, but this one is very entertaining. The films tended to get worse with each new entry, but most of the elements work well here. If you are looking for serious spy cinema, try 007 or Harry Palmer. If you want some goofy fun, try this.
Dean Martin stars in this spy spoof, the beginning of the Matt Helm series. Matt may have a blase attitude about his duties and all the beautiful women around him throwing themselves at him, but he still carries out his duties well and ends up obliging the women, with good humor and lines. The screenplay is interspersed with Dean's singing, lending to the lighthearted atmosphere. While tongue in cheek, the plot is good, as Victor Buono plays the lead villain who is seeking to engineer a nuclear disaster. Among many gorgeous women in this male fantasy, the leading one is Stella Stevens, who plays Gail Hendrix, suspected of being a spy till the end. There is a nice scene when she and Dean are pulled over in a car on the highway in a rainstorm. Some people just don't enjoy spoofs, but I do if they are well done, and with its many nice elements I enjoyed this more than most real things.
This is the first, and BEST, Matt Helm movie. Stella Stevens steals the
show with a wonderful comedic performance as a clumsy tourist suspected of
being a spy. Dino is charming, but seems bored throughout the movie.
Victor Buono is hilarious as the madman trying to start a nuclear war
between the USSR and the USA.
This movie has TONS of 1960s in-jokes. There is a great scene where Dino and Stella are DRINKING LIQUOR while driving on the highway! That alone is worth watching. A concept car of Ford Motor Company was used for the interior of Matt Helm's 1965 Mercury Colony Park station wagon.
This is the best Matt Helm film and along with the somewhat more serious
Bulldog Drummond film, Deadlier Than The Male, one of the best
tongue-in-cheek spy/adventure films ever made.
The production is breezy and entertaining, the direction is hilarious (Martin, Stella Stevens) and seductive (Daliah Lavi) and there are quite a few clever bits of strategy played out by all the characters.
Matt Helm likes his women but treats them with respect. The women, unlike in the Bond and Flint movies, are not just window dressing; They become integral to the plot.
The mixture of clever plot, sharp dialog and self-deprecating humor make this Bond alternative much more enjoyable than the pretentious, boring, self-congratulatory Flint films. Matt Helm wants to have a good time but knows when to get down to business.
Universal Pictures packages this film with the enjoyable film The Wrecking Crew. This package deserves to be part of any spy collection.
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