“I’ve been as honest with you as you have been with me.”
Retired super-spy Matt Helm (Dean Martin) is lured by his former ICE (Intelligence Counter Espionage) boss (James Gregory) away from his comfortable life as a Slaymate photographer to help stop the head (Victor Buono) of a terrorist organization from enacting a nuclear explosion across the United States. Along the way, he’s helped by a beautiful femme fatale (Dahlia Lavi) and hindered by a bumbling potential counter-agent (Stella Stevens).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cyd Charisse Films
- Dean Martin Films
- Nuclear Threat
- Phil Karlson Films
- Satires and Spoofs
- Stella Stevens Films
Directed by Phil Karlson, this first of four spy spoofs based on the “Matt Helm” books by Donald Hamilton remains a lame American attempt to cash in on the Bond franchise. Martin isn’t believable in the slightest as a “super spy”, and his treatment of women as readily available sex objects goes beyond even that of Bond (not an easy feat). Poor Stella Stevens bumbles around from her first uncomfortable scene on screen — waggling her bathing-suit-clad bum in front of Martin, then proceeding to crash into everyone else lounging by the pool — and she’s never given a chance to shine or succeed, other than accidentally (viz. the “reverse-shooting” gun in later scenes).
As noted by Richard Scheib in his Moria review, “To say that The Silencers was the best of the Matt Helm may be to give a misleading impression that one is praising it. One isn’t – the Matt Helm series is infuriating in its obnoxiousness.”
Note: Cyd Charisse shows up in a couple of enjoyable dance numbers, but is far too quickly removed from the story — and her dress in the second is mind-numbingly ugly. What were they thinking?!?!
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Beautiful Cyd Charisse dancing in the opening credits
- Creative sets
No; you can most definitely skip this one.
2 thoughts on “Silencers, The (1966)”
⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A very silly series not to be taken seriously, but great fun even if the films are terribly dated. Martin just swans his way through this First one with Victor Buono having a ball as the villain and Stella Stevens as a loveable klutz.
Silly gadgets, beds that deliver the occupant into a bath and silly character names like Lovey Kravesit spoofing Bond. Martin even sings some songs and takes a pot shot at Sinatra!
What’s not to love?
However, definitely not must see having no historical or cinematic significance at all.
The James Bond series gets (very mildly) parodied here as Martin plays Helm more along the lines of a Vegas act (complete with songs!), in keeping with his tv persona at the time.
Most of the jokes don’t work but occasionally one does (Stevens: “I can table you under the drink anytime at all.”). The overall end result of the film (along with its look) is more like made-for-tv.
Whereas the Bond films (even the weaker ones) are still very much in the minds of film fans, the Helm series is now largely forgotten. Peary was kind to not include the 3 sequels in his book.