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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.
My wife will be happy to tell you that I watch a lot of bad movies, but
usually in the genre of "so bad that they're good." The first movie in
this series fell into that category, but this sequel moved the "bad"
needle way past the "camp" point to the point of no return.
The plot is paper-thin, the dubbing is awful, the sets, rear projections, models, and special effects are grade-school level, and most of the actors are unbearable. The "funny" Italian duo (who I guess were big Italian stars...the short one reminds me vaguely of Larry Storch) never even APPROACH funny, especially with their dubbed voices. (Why do bad movies like this always use voice actors who use cartoon voices rather than normal speech?) You know the movie is in trouble when the director calls for sped-up action (a la Benny Hill).
Vincent Price, who would do anything for money, floats above the cesspool to some degree, especially when he's hamming it up straight to the camera. The other saving feature is Les Baxter's generic 60s score, with whiffs of the Tijuana Brass. If you survive to the end, you'll hear one of the worst closing themes since "The Green Slime."
I've always said that I'd watch Vincent Price read a phone book. I
should emend that statement after watching this movie: I'd watch
Vincent Price read a phone book IF he was nowhere near a pair of
I saw Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, so I knew what to expect; but, any camp enjoyment one could derive from this film was nullified by the idiot doormen/spies who mug their way through every scene like a horrible Jim Carey.
Price plays the role light and talks to the camera through some of the movie. He seems like he's having fun. Fabian's talents might better be used in another movie. His performance made Frankie Avalon look like Lawrence Olivier.
The girls are pretty, fleshy Italian types. There's a lot of them. They explode.
This movie should be seen if you've seen every other movie ever made and you want closure...
The first movie was not what I call a good movie, but it did have a certain campiness and fun to it. This sequel however is just a weird mess in almost every way. The only redeeming qualities were the beautiful girls and especially Vincent Price's more expanded and deliciously arch performance. In regard to Price, Dr Gooldfoot and the Girl Bombs is arguably his worst film(though Green Hell and Story of Mankind are just as poor as well) but he being Price looks as though he was at least he was enjoying himself, though I read somewhere that that wasn't the case. Nothing else however works. The production values look as though that each one came from different films altogether, and it looks cheap, further disadvantaged by some very haphazard editing. In regards to the score, I am going to take a guess and say that the film at some point was re-scored. If that was the case, it didn't work as the music doesn't fit the film at all. The script is poor, with the comedy very ill-judged and everything else has a very overly-corny tone. The story feels padded, and has nothing surprising or exciting. Mario Bava's direction indicates that he was completely out of his depth, because he directs as though he didn't have a clue of what he was doing. Apart from Price, the acting is terrible. Fabian is really bland and looks lost, but what truly sinks Dr Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs is the double act Ciccio and Franco, mugging and grimacing with no charm, genuine comic timing or grace whatsoever. The pratfalls they do here are also hopelessly contrived. All in all, a weird and disappointingly messy film that makes the heavily flawed but somewhat entertaining first film look like Citizen Kane. 2/10 Bethany Cox
A rather bizarre mix of surreal gags, verbal comedy (including some breaking of the fourth wall) and juvenile slapstick (prepare for lots and lots of fast motion), "Dr. Goldfoot And The Girl Bombs" suffers from often shoddy special effects, and Franco Franchi's mugging will not be to everybody's taste, to put it mildly, but it also has its strengths: Vincent Price is far and away the best thing in the film, clearly having a ball with atypical (for him) low comedy, but hitting some high spots as well, through his excellent delivery ("And then there were none!"). The women are beautiful in that still-unsurpassed 1960s way, and they are everywhere you look! The one with the largest role is a young Laura Antonelli, in one of her first films: not only does she have a steamy seduction scene (playing a robot version of her human character), but she also shows a knack for slapstick comedy. I'd say take a chance with this film, even if you don't like it, it's short enough (about 80 minutes) not to take up too much of your time. Funniest bit: the recreation of the classic "mirror sequence" from "Duck Soup". ** out of 4.
MASTER PLAN: blow up key U.S. generals with booby-trapped girl robots.
The diabolical Dr. Goldfoot is back, in this sequel to "Dr. Goldfoot
and the Bikini Machine"(65). No lie! How they talked Vincent Price into
this, I'm not sure, though he was already hamming it up in the previous
movie. Here he's joined by a couple of comics who were Italy's answer
to Abbott & Costello. Teen heartthrob Fabian replaces teen heartthrob
Frankie Avalon as an agent of S.I.C., oh, yes! Rather than simple
theft, which he indulged in previously, here Goldfoot teams with the
Chinese for probable world domination (those dastardly Chinese - see
also "Battle Beneath the Earth" which came out around the same time).
Goldfoot explains all this by speaking directly to the audience,
breaking that 4th wall. He still uses a machine which manufactures
female robots, all dressed in golden bathing suits and boots, which he
sends to kiss various generals; an intense enough smooch sets off an
explosion. The only general left standing is Goldfoot's double. All
this is kind of incidental; the main plot has the two main
leads/buffoons improbably/accidentally join up with S.I.C. as agents.
Goldfoot, of course, is a broad parody of the outrageous villains from the James Bond films. He has a swimming pool of killer fish, probably something like piranha, so, every now and then, a skeleton turns up, freshly cleaned. This also copies "Our Man Flint" a bit, with the latest IBM computer (Rita) sabotaged by Goldfoot when it selects the best agents for the job. The two comedians are not very subtle, with over-the-top mugging, and a lot of the action is sped up (undercranked) to give it that slapstick silent comedy feeling. Otherwise, much of the humor falls flat, though it does pick up near the end. I've written that the previous Goldfoot movie was the most ridiculous parody of the Bond craze, but this Italian take on the whole thing takes it to yet another level. The final half-hour gives a new meaning to the term 'absurdity,' involving a balloon trip by the heroes which touches off of heaven at one point and then chases down a supersonic jet plane! Laura Antonelli figures prominently in these last few scenes; she became a somewhat famous sex symbol in Italian sex farces in the seventies. My DVD version was in Italian, with optional English subtitles. Heroes:3 Villain:4 Femme Fatales:5 Henchmen:2 Fights:2 Stunts/Chases:3 Gadgets:3 Auto:2 Locations:3 Pace:3 overall:3
...is better than either of the two "Dr. Goldfoot" movies.
"Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine" (1965) and "Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs" (1966) are spoofs of the early James Bond flicks and, to a lesser degree, the early 60's beach movies with Avalon & Funicello (mainly because Frankie stars in the first one and it shares the harmless, fun-spirited flare of the beach flicks). They're innocuous mid-60's slapstick comedies in the style of "I Dream of Jeanie", but extended to a full movie. Their main attraction can be found in their titles -- the 60's bikini-clad babes and Vincent price in the title role. Since I love both (and "I Dream of Jeanie") I figured I'd like these movies way more than I did, but I found them pretty forgettable, not to mention lame. Yes, I know, they're supposed to be lame, but there's good lame and bad lame and the two Dr. Goldfoot movies are mediocre lame, verging on bad.
The first movie takes place in San Francisco and the second one in Rome. These locations are highlights in addition to those already mentioned. These movies are also enjoyable as period-pieces as it's interesting to see the mid-60's styles, etc.
As far as the women go, I was a little disappointed with the first one in this respect; the second one is much better, not to mention it was directed by Mario Bava (which many insist is his worst film, lol).
At the end of the day, the Dr. Goldfoot movies are throwaway flicks, but they're worth catching for the highlights noted above, if you're in the right frame of mind.
The first movie runs 88 minutes and the second one 82 minutes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nefarious mad scientist Dr. Goldfoot (delightfully essayed with deliciously lip-smacking hammy panache by Vincent Price) once again plots to take over the world by creating sexy female robot bombs that are specifically designed to blow up top 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 (a passable turn by Fabian) to stop Goldfoot. Acclaimed Italian horror director Mario Bava maintains a suitably zippy pace, but alas just doesn't have a sure feel for humor as the protracted slapstick gags and clumsy overuse of fast motion both get pretty tiresome after a while (a lengthy chase through an amusement park in particular wears out its welcome after a few minutes). Moreover, the dumb script by Giuseppe Moccia and Franco Castellano recycles the basic premise from the first one sans the original's goofy charm and zing. Worst of all, the Italian comedy duo of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia prove to be more annoying than amusing. Goldfoot's occasional asides directly to the camera are rather corny, but elicit a few much-needed laughs all the same. Fortunately, the jaw-dropping pulchritudinous presence of Laura Antonelli and a bevy of bikini-clad beauties prevent this picture from being a complete wash-out. Antonio Rinaldi's vibrant cinematography and Les Baxter's bouncy score are both up to par. Fair fun.
In his second and mercifully last outing, mad scientist Vincent Price
(as Dr. Goldfoot) uses his gold bikini-clad robots to seduce NATO
generals into compromising positions. The diabolical Mr. Price has a
dual role as one of the generals. The opening recap serves to replace
"forces of good" Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman with SIC agent
Fabian (as Bill Dexter). Of course, the fate of the entire free world
hangs in the balance. Assisting Fabian are bumbling doormen Franco
Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia. When military men get aroused by the
beautiful robots, they explode. Yes, the well-proportioned beauties are
da bomb; unfortunately, so is the movie. This would have been both
funnier and sexier had it been filmed in the nude.
** Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (7/29/66) Mario Bava ~ Vincent Price, Fabian, Franco Franchi, Ciccio Ingrassia
Dr. Goldfoot (Vincent Price) has a new plan for world domination: he is
going to send beautiful women after military men... except that when
kissed, these women explode! He has also relocated to Italy, though
this does nothing to stop SIC from tracking him down.
You can read pretty much any review or look at the rating on IMDb and you will get the idea that this is a bad film. Now, I do not think it is as bad as most people do, but I do accept a number of things: it is not as funny, the continuity from the first film makes little sense, Goldfoot keeps breaking the fourth wall for some reason, and Mario Bava is better than this.
Really, all you have is everything from the first film toned down a few notches. And as much as I enjoyed the first one, it is not really what one might call a great film. What made it work (besides Price) was Susan Hart, so without her the sequel was not going to be as good no matter what you did. Throwing in two bungling, unfunny Italian comics does not make it okay.
Troy Howarth has written a fine overview of the film (which he rightly calls "a mess") and reviewed it. His words are worth quoting. With regards to Price, Howarth thinks "this sort of material is quite beneath his talents. All told, this film represents an all-time low for both Price and Bava." I am inclined to agree.
According to Howarth, Bava "had no enthusiasm for the project and tried to pull out of it" but he was "under contract for one more film". The biggest problem, among many, was that the project "was to be edited into two completely different films" and the "American version, widely hailed as a bomb, is not the work of Mario Bava, as it was re-written, re-scored and re-edited without his participation". I have not seen the Italian version, but it is not rumored to be any better.
If you liked the first Goldfoot, I would recommend giving this one a chance, as long as you are aware that the American version is a sequel to this while the Italian version is a sequel to an Italian film, and both were cut from the same film. Despite all this it still makes sense, but the quality is understandably bad.
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