TV Cream

Films: S is for...

Salt And Pepper/One More Time

The spy spoof genre’s all about cinematic in-japery and self-indulgence, so how could it be complete without a visit from the Rat Pack? Dean Martin spent the sixties stumbling through a series of low-rent, girl-crazy Man From UNCLE-style adventures as Matt Helm, but that was The Godfather compared to this. An ageing Sammy Davis Jr (Charles Salt) and Peter Lawford (Chris Pepper) are owners of a ‘legitimate’ Soho nightclub led by a series of suspicious murders into a web of silly intrigue culminating in a plot by a one-eyed John le Mesurier to wipe out a British city with a stolen Polaris sub. The pair, reluctantly recruited by MI5, stumble in and out of Soho dives, panicking, wisecracking and booting Le Mesurier soundly in the nuts. Throw in Michael Bates as a comedy copper and serial car bomb victim, a clunky customised kit car complete with array of unreliable pursuit gadgets, a riot of overcooked double takes and a Lionel Blair dance routine and you’ve got a film that might have been a lot of fun if its two stars weren’t, according to exasperated director Richard Donner, permanently hungover on set. (Celluloid evidence bears him out.) The sequel, directed by Jerry Lewis, was even more foolish, featuring Lawford in a duel role as his upper class British cousin and a bit of business where Davis opens a secret passage behind a bookcase to discover Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in costume as Frankenstein and Dracula, seemingly put there for no other reason than the lairy old Packers rather liked Hammer films.



  1. Richardpd

    December 20, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    Probably watched at least once by a young Mike Myers.

    I wonder what Frank Sinatra thought of it? considering he was making the Man With The Golden Arm around the same time.

  2. Droogie

    December 21, 2021 at 1:13 am

    The Man With The Golden Arm was from 1955 so a decade before these films. Sinatra was busy making the charmless Tony Rome movies in the late 60’s instead.

  3. THX 1139

    December 21, 2021 at 9:56 am

    Sinatra had no sense of humour, so he probably loved these movies. The bit in One More Time where Sammy tries for an Oscar nomination with a big, emotional, teary scene is excruciatingly embarrassing. And I like Sammy!

  4. Richardpd

    December 21, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    OK I got my timing out of there.

    Frank Sinatra seemed to have an odd career, often switching between acting & singing with an odd break in between if he was out of fashion enough to do neither. A few times he announced his retirement but always came back when he got bored or was offered enough money.

    Sammy Davis Jr considered The Candy Man to be saccharine, but was still happy to promote it enough to get it to the top of the Hot 100 charts.

    As much as I like the Cannonball Run Sammy & Dean, along with Roger Moore were probably having cash flow issues when the casting director came calling.

  5. Richardpd

    December 21, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    Frank Sinatra also got to use an early version of Han solo’s gun in Naked Runner around this time.

  6. Droogie

    December 21, 2021 at 7:45 pm

    Comedian Dana Gould pointed out the difference between Dean Martin and Sinatra when both of them would use the same opening gag to the audience in their live act, namely ” How did you all get into my room?”. When Dino said it in his loveable drunk persona, it always got a big laugh. But when Sinatra said the same line it sounded more like a threat with the possibility of some immediate violence.

  7. Richardpd

    December 21, 2021 at 10:04 pm

    I’ve got a CD of the Rat Pack live on stage where Frank Sinatra is often a straight man to the other two’s antics.

  8. Sidney Balmoral James

    December 21, 2021 at 10:08 pm

    Dino, Peter Lawford and Davis each had quite sad lives: Dino made a fortune with Airport (was on a 10% cut), but his final years were increasingly unhappy, lost his son in a plane crash etc.; Lawford ended up a drug addict, and Davis endured terrible racism, and a rather mixed up personal life.

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