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Films: S is for...

Silencers, The

Dean Martin mugs his way through the first of the Matt Helm spy take-offs, in much the same way as he mugs through just about everything else. Stella ‘Flamingo Road’ Stevens, Daliah ‘Casino Royale’ Lavi and, er, Cyd Charisse guest. Of course, the best thing about the Matt Helm films were the trailers and the best of them involved Dino lying on a revolving bed surrounded by leggy lovelies and holding a huge glass of bourbon on the rocks (that’s a plot spoiler, by the way) and saying, “Erm… I wanted to make Hamlet but the producers talked me out of it.” Great, that was. The film series itself… well. Gunplay and fistfights inevitably take a back seat while the superspy ‘lifestyle’ is ramped up. Even the title sequence dispenses with Bond’s silhouette coyness and goes for a full-on strip show number. By day a photographer for Slaygirl magazine with a fully-automated bachelor shagpad, Dino takes a break between sexual fantasy musical numbers to fight terrorist organisation The Big O, whose main crime seems to be sporting grey suits, facial hair and being generally un-swinging. They are, of course, no match for Helm, who dispatches them with ease – slightly too much ease, perhaps. Matt’s pad featured a motorised circular bed, which deposited him in an Olympic-sized sunken bath complete with car wash-style drying system, robotic drinks trolley and teasmaid. How this helped the fight against international counter-espionage nobody knows.Helm always felt his age, but Martin’s version takes the inaction movie to new extremes.

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  1. Matt Patton

    August 3, 2010 at 3:42 am

    On the plus side, Martin has great chemistry with Stella Stevens and Dahlia Lavi, both talented comic actresses. As for the credit sequence, the strip-tease-y stuff leads into Cyd Charisse, who was often plank-stiff when required to deliver lines, but a graceful, even eloquent, dancer. She makes something elegant, even genuinely erotic, out of the bump-and-grind choreography she’s given (and the Vicki Carr vocal she lip-synchs to helps a lot)

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