Matt Helm Lounge
Dean Martin, Sharon Tate, Elke Sommer, Tina Louise
Directed by Phil Karlson
Columbia Pictures 1969
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2005
Part of the 4 movie Matt Helm Lounge box set, The Wrecking Crew, again loosely based on a Donald Hamilton spy thriller, is the last of the spy movies in which crooner Dean Martin played “the original swinger agent”. The Matt Helm Lounge includes the four Helm movies, The Silencers, Murderer’s Row, The Ambushers, and the best of the bunch, The Wrecking Crew. It is a fun collection of late sixties spy comedies.
Matt Helm may be the only spy whose dreams are always scored with a Dean Martin song. Otherwise, he is every bit a ladies’ man like James Bond –and most spies of the time for that matter. The Wrecking Crew has to do with the heist of a billion dollars in gold by Count Massimo Contini (played by Nigel Green) and the mission Matt Helm faces is to recover the gold in forty-eight hours before the markets open on Monday and the British pound and American dollar lose their value.
The Wrecking Crew really stars Sharon Tate as MI 5 secret agent Freya Carlson who plays Danish tour guide and generally goes around spoiling Helm’s fun with the ladies. It is very hard for a while to figure out how the Sharon Tate character got to be a secret agent but as a ditsy spinster she certainly steals a few scenes away from Dean Martin. Most of he role seems to be to cause coitus interruptus when Matt Helm is seducing of of the ladies working for the bad guy. Tina Louise, of Gilligan’s Island fame, has a minor role as rather bad cabaret dancer Lola Medina. Nancy Kwan (of Susie Wong fame) plays baddie Wen Yu-Rang who tries to stop Helm from getting the gold back.
The Matt Helm movies were not exactly known for being serious spy thrillers, particularly violent, or particularly well acted. Even special effect wise they are not the best around. Viewers will notice that when Helm throws one of his little bombs it bounces far off the door but the door itself explodes. They will also see him picking himself off some rubberized grass and they can’t help but notice the strings in the very last scene.
However, the Matt Helm Lounge features fun little secret agent tongue in cheek films with a bevy of buxom women and an excuse for Dean Martin to do a little fighting, a lot of romancing, and quipping a few good lines here and there. Still The Wrecking Crew, as most of the Matt Helm Lounge set, is a fun movie to watch.
- A weird, unevenly paced thriller that is definitely worth watching.