Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
The Wrecking Crew (1969)
The James Bond 007 franchise brought out several copycats of which the Matt Helm series was arguably the most successful with four episodic films that starred Dean Martin as the American answer to James Bond.
Matt Helm, based on the character created in the Donald Hamilton novels, was an American secret agent working for ICE – International Counterintelligence and Espionage – who masquerades as a fashion photographer as a cover for conducting covert operations. The fashion photographer angle gives him plenty of pretty girls in his immediate proximity and he spends a lot of the running time playing with the girls and mugging for the camera, as well as drinking and leering at the girls that are too distant to grab.
Matt Helm (Dean Martin) is no doubt a take off on Martin’s own reputation as a womanizer and partier with plenty of drinking and smooching with the young women, some of whom are allies and others are enemies.
The Wrecking Crew was the last of the Matt Helm series of four movies showing the leering Dean Martin, who had made a great name for himself as an actor who could do his stuff in more serious films like Rio Bravo, whereas these Matt Helm films were strictly paycheck performances with only minimal scripting and direction; just a vehicle that allowed Dean to muddle through without a lot of engagement giving an occasional nod and wink to the camera to show he knew this was just a gag.
The soundtrack plays clips from popular Dean Martin songs with his voice giving a sort of voice over accompaniment to the screen action usually involving one of the gorgeous young women who averaged about 25 or 30 years his junior. Dean was getting creaky and his action moves are definitely more in line with struggling through cement except when his screen double takes over and then the action is a little better but you can tell it’s not Dino .
I liked these films when they ran on television back when I was a kid but now that I see them on DVD they don’t give me the same impression; they seem to have lost most of their charm, although the women are very lovely and attractive.
This one has Nancy Kwan, Elke Sommer, Dahlia Lavi, and Sharon Tate in a full performance in her last film before the starlet was tragically murdered by the Manson family killers.
The story is fairly simple that just provides a framework to get from action scene to action scene with very little continuity between the vignettes. In this episode of the Matt Helm story a nefarious Italian count decides to corner the market on gold and thereby collapse the world economy.
Elke Sommer and Nancy Kwan play the evil count’s minions, and Sharon Tate plays a bumbling Danish tourist guide who causes all sorts of difficulties with her bumbling. Tate is also a secret agent and the bumbling guide is a clever (not) disguise.
Dean Martin, of course, romances any girl within arm’s length and is seldom without a drink in his hand. A mini helicopter is part of the fun as Helm’s automobile is destroyed by Tate’s bungling and he produces the helicopter kit from the trunk, assembles it, and together they fly off to foil the count.
The DVD is from Sony and older DVDs and VHS tapes are also available. This film is one of the very few available performances that show Sharon Tate doing what would have made her a respected actress had she lived.
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Viewing Format: DVD
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