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Nefarious mad scientist Dr. Goldfoot once again plots to take over the world by creating female robot bombs specifically designed to blow up high-ranking generals of NATO countries. Goldfoot hopes that by doing this he will start a war between Russia and America. It's up to disgraced government agent Bill Dexter to stop Goldfoot. Written by
In the 1960's, during the heyday of the weekend matinée and drive in movie lots, the American movie market burned through film at a truly phenomenal pace. In earlier days, Hollywood had satisfied this need with B Movie quickies: one week wonders pumped out by the now all but dead studio system. Now, in order to satisfy the voracious hunger of the American cinema, film distributors, such as American International Pictures, tapped foreign markets, importing films from Europe and Asia, quickly providing them with an English language soundtrack of sometimes dubious quality and then swiftly firing them into movie houses to fill the ever popular Double Bills.
In the process of converting these films into English, they were often re-scored and edited for content, to remove those dangerous seconds of celluloid that were deemed either too violent or too sexy for American audiences. While this process allowed the distributor to make slight alterations to a film, it remained, essentially, the same movie in the USA as it had been in its country of origin.
Such is not the case with LE SPIE VENGONO DAL SEMIFREDDO and DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS.
Both films begin with the military leaders of various nations being lured into an explosive, and fatal, kiss by the scantily clad charms of the insidious Dr. Goldfoot's robot girl bombs, and both films end with a climactic confrontation between the forces of good and evil aboard an airborne American jumbo bomber, but the events between produce two very different movies.
DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS stars the popular singer and would-be actor Fabian as well intentioned but barely competent Bill Dexter, an agent of the Security Intelligence Command, or SIC. Though he has been suspended by SIC, Dexter is the only one who realizes the threat posed by Dr. Goldfoot. Assisted by Colonel Benson's gorgeous, but frigid, secretary, Rosanna, ( the anything but frigid Laura Antonelli ) Dexter bumbles his way through various clichéd perils to save NATO's leaders from being blown to bits.
LE SPIE VENGONO DAL SEMIFREDDO stars the Italian comedy duo of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia as a pair of totally incompetent accidental spies, who, following information from American agent Bill Dexter, manage to track the villainous Dr. Goldfoot to his lair, and then get trapped there by him. Dexter arrives on the scene to rescue the bumbling duo, just in time for the climactic chase and final showdown aboard the bomber.
What both versions share is that neither will ever be mistaken for a great movie comedy. The scripts are weak, the jokes poor and Fabian is attractive, but bland. Then there are Franco and Ciccio. There are no shortage of great Italian directors, singers, actors and composers, but somehow the list of great Italian film comedians is much, much shorter. I suspect that Franco and Ciccio are indicative of the reason why. An even less appealing team than Marty Allen and Steve Rossi in LAST OF THE SECRET AGENTS, it is truly frightening to reflect on this duo of barely talented "comedians" being so popular as to star in over one hundred motion pictures.
Surprisingly, then, it is LE SPIE VENGONO DAL SEMIFREDDO that is the better of the two movies. Without a doubt the best thing about either film is Vincent Price, and his Dr. Goldfoot character is better treated, though barely so, in the Italian release. Because of the increased screen time given to Franco and Ciccio, the Dexter character is presented in a more straightforward manner in his reduced role and comes off the better for it. Lastly, several of the American version's most preposterously bad moments, such as the very poorly done demise of Rosanna's robot double, are wisely not in the Italian cut of the film. The substituted Franco and Ciccio scenes are merely silly, rather than painfully embarrassing.
In watching either version, it is difficult to believe that the director was the great Mario Bava. On the other hand it is, sadly, very easy to believe reports that Bava undertook the job simply to fulfill contractual obligations, and had no great personal investment in the final project. Bava's innovative use of visuals, his mastery of colour and composition, were usually able to overcome the poorer scripts he sometimes had to work with. However LE SPIE VENGONO DAL SEMIFREDDO displays none of Mario Bava's usual flare, and frankly could have been directed by anyone.
The basic concept of LE SPIE VENGONO DAL SEMIFREDDO / DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS is an intriguing one; filled with potential. In the hands of talents like Vincent Price and Mario Bava the result should have been a first rate black comedy. Unfortunately the combination of too many other factors, both behind and in front of the camera, diminished the final result into films which are little more than interesting curiosities.
For fans of Mario Bava, Vincent Price or simply for the curious, both films have been made available on home video. DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS was released in a fair pan and scan VHS edition in 1995 as part of MGM's Vincent Price Collection. It is now out of print. LE SPIE VENGONO DAL SEMIFREDDO was recently released by IIF on DVD in a very nice 1.85:1 widescreen edition.
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