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"Cop Out" †by Mike Smith
Series Retrospective: Matt Helm †by ED Tucker
|THE AUDIO PHILES|
February's Album of the Month : Yeasayer--Odd Blood †by Terence Nuzum
The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #5 †by Lisa Scherer
|THE ASIAN APERTURE|
Mainland Dundee †by Jason Fetters
|LAMPIN' @ THE 6TH BOROUGH|
Anyone Else Find This Hilarious? †by John Miller
Trumpets Please! .... Passing On .... Movie News .... If I Picked The Oscars (and I Do) .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf †by Mike Smith
James Bond was a major contender for movie theater dollars in the 1960ís and ushered in a spy craze that would continue for most of the decade. Imitators of all sizes and temperaments popped up on the entertainment landscape in movies, television series, and even childrenís cartoons. Thanks to Sean Conneryís portrayal of the suave secret agent, Bond went from a literary character to a pop culture icon almost overnight and no less than five feature films about him were released between 1962 and 1967.
Following the Bond formula, Columbia Pictures acquired the rights to Donald Hamiltonís popular series of Matt Helm novels which included nine installments at the time of the first motion picture. Hamiltonís Helm was one of the darker spy characters of the 60ís and a major departure from James Bond. Originally trained as an assassin in World War II, the Matt Helm of the novels is recruited for a nameless organization in the private sector where his well honed skills can be put to perfect use. This hard edged Helm was a grizzled middle aged protagonist who preferred to carry out his assignments in as efficient a manor as possible and with little trace of humor.
Super cool secret agent Matt Helm with his ever present drink in hand.
This new ďDean HelmĒ character had his own particular style that amplified many of Bondís less admirable traits. The movie Helm was a habitual womanizer, literally sleeping with just about any female who wandered into his grasp. Like Martinís Hollywood persona, he was very fond of alcohol and seldom without a cigarette in his hand. Dean Helm even found time to croon a few ditties throughout the series although these catchy choruses thankfully never developed into full blown musical numbers.
Columbia produced four Matt Helm films in the latter half of the 1960ís but when the decade concluded, so did the movies. While the box office returns were still adequate, Dean Martin had grown tired of the role and felt that the care free character was not representative of the tumultuous times.
Dino packs major heat in The Silencers.
Matt Helmís feature film debut takes its title from the fourth book in the series, which had been published only four years earlier. Some elements from the first novel, Death of a Citizen, are incorporated into the script to help define the character but in the end, the film is a work all its own. As the movie opens, Helm is out of the spy gaming and living an idyllic life as a photographer. He is coerced into returning to active duty by his old boss at ICE (Intelligence and CounterEspionage), MacDonald (played by the frog-voiced James Gregory), when the evil organization Big O (Brotherhood for International Government and Order) gains access to an atomic bomb. The always enjoyable Victor Buno plays the unconvincingly Asian villain Tung-Tze and Roger Carmel is his main assassin with a major dislike for Matt. The lovely Stella Stevens provides most of the eye candy for this installment but Cyd Charisse is on hand for back up. The Silencers was a box office success and remains a fan favorite even though it is one of the lighter entries in the series.
|With his secret agent brief case, Matt Helm is prepared for any situation!|