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.

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