Oh yes, the second James (his middle initial should have been a T as well) of the heroic, lady killer, don't take no guff and hand out the knuckle sandwiches type that syndication made infamous! West and Gordon were a total team, complementing the others shortcomings or weakness while keeping the banter and fun going strong. Loving the westerns as I do, Wild Wild West was always a favorite of mine and the setting, stories, characters, villains and gimmicks were all part of the fascination. After school was never better than when in my youth I could come home to watch Dark Shadows and then tune in the local station for the Big Valley at 3pm, Wild Wild West at 4pm , then I Spy would alternate after showing all seasons with Mission Impossible at 5pm and finishing with Star Trek at 6pm. Those were some great days. Wonderful memories...
Gimme a home on the ol' prairie where I can sit in my rockin' chair reading my favorite old comic books of yesteryear!
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 26, 2019 17:55:44 GMT -5
Wild wild west was a Saturday afternoon show, on our local station. It was several years before we got Star Trek (again, on weekends, then, later, weekday afternoons). Weekends also had The Saint and Mission Impossible. Weekday afternoons were sitcoms: Gilligan's Island, Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Petticoat Junction, Beverly Hillbillies, and the like. I was in jr high or high school before we ever got the Adv of Superman or Batman. MI also later turned up in afternoons.
We used to get a 6:30 pm syndicated show, on the local ABC affiliate, just before Prime Time started. When I was very young, it was the Lucy Show and here's Lucy. For a while, it was Hogan's Heroes. It turned into various things over the years, usually involving a recent era sitcom. The NBC affiliate ran stuff like Wheel of Fortune and jeopardy, from the 80s on. Can't really recall, before that. The CBS station ran MASH, for many yers, then moved it to 10:30, after the news, by the time I was in high school and the series was ending. Actually, now that I think of it, either the ABC or NBC affiliate ran Gunsmoke, for a long time.
I only ever saw part of one I Spy episode, at my grandparents house, in Bloomington, IL. Also the only place I ever saw Have Gun, Will Travel and The Rifleman.
I didn't get to see anything Man From UNCLE until the Return movie, which was a huge disappointment, compared to what I had built up in my head. The first thing I got to see was one of the movies (Karate Killers), then a few episodes when they were haphazardly released on vhs. I have DVDs of the first 2 seasons, plus the movie compilations and the Return movie.
The Avengers I saw sporadically, mostly on the local PBS station (which had a lot of Brit tv). The Prisoner was on video, in 1988, after catching the final episode on the local Georgia PBS station (and reading a Starlog article and The Prisoner Companion). The next week, I found the first episode, Arrival, the alternate version of The Chimes of Big Ben and Fallout, at the local Camelot Music store (as well as a handful of Avengers vhs, before it was on A&E).
When TNT started carrying the Wild Wild West, I taped each episode. They ran a Dr Loveless marathon and I taped all of those together.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 28, 2019 20:55:43 GMT -5
When Bond became a big deal, European producers and studios went nuts, trying to replicate its success for themselves. Most didn't have the budgets that Eon did, and tried to do things more cheaply, with varying results. For the next half dozen years, Italy and France (primarily, though not only) churned out spy films, often with American and British actors fto expand international appeal. The films became a subgenre, among cult film fans, known as "Eurospy" films. These were mostly copycats, either in name or plot, done far cheaper, but making good use of European and other locales. Just as the Spaghetti Westerns followed after the American Westerns, these followed Bond; and, like the Western crowd, produced a few gems, in their own right.
The first series I want to look at is actually based on a series of detective pulp novels, but the characters were thrown into espionage situations. This is the German-Italian series Kommissar X. these were a series of pulp novels, in Germany, starring private detective Joe Walker and his pal, New York cop Tom Rowland. There were over 620 Kommissar X novels in Germany, starting in 1959. The film series began in 1965, with Italian actor Tony Kendall (Luciano Stella) and American actor/stuntman Brad Harris.
The first movie in the series was Kiss, Kiss, Kill Kill (I'm sticking with the English titles, rather than the German), in 1965. You can see the entirety of it on Youtube.
In Yugoslavia, Tom Rowland is training local police and his pal, Joe Walker has lent a hand in an exercise (the opening action). Walker ends up hunting for a missing nuclear scientist and gets Rowland to help. Their search brings them in contact with many beautiful women, a lot of murder and attempted murder, and a madman, named Oberon, who has radioactive gold bullion, in his fortress, on a private island in the Adriatic.
This was probably the most James Bond of the series, with some super-weapons, a lot of dalliances with the ladies, and plenty of guns and fists. Tony Kendall was as handsome as the came and was a natural as the romantic lead, who beds more beauties than Bond, yet is still a believable butt-kicker. Harris is a Captain America-like hunk of a man who beats the crap out of the baddies and does okay with the ladies (he's a bit more rigged looking).
The villain's island is a decent lower budget attempt at Bond set-pieces and there is a lot of fun to be had in the film. Also appearing as one of the ladies is Maria Peschy, an Austrian actress, who appeared in the Rock Hudson film Man's Favorite Sport? and with Cliff Robertson in 633 Squadron (one of the films that inspired the Death Star attack sequences, in Star Wars).
The film did well throughout Europe and played drive ins and smaller theaters in the US. Its success led to more, with two released in 1966: Death is Nimble, Death is Quick, and So Darling, So Deadly.
Death Is Nimble, Death Is Quick was set in Colombo, Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon, then). An American Embassy official is murdered, while trying to protect the daughter of a wealthy landowner. Tom Rowland is sent to investigate. Joe Walker is hired by the landowner to protect his daughter. The pair work with local police and identify the killers as a terrorist group, The Three Golden Cats. The chief enforcer of the bunch is King, played by bodybuilder/stumt,an Dan Vadis (one of the early bodybuilding figures, along with Steve Reeves).
Vadis had been part of Mae West's Muscleman Revue, which led him to movies. he played Hercules in The Triumph of Hercules and Hercules the Invincible, in the Italian peplum films (known as "sword & sandal," in the US). He also starred as Roccia, the leader of the Ten Gladiators, in three movies (the 3rd, Spartacus and the Ten Gladiators, was shown on Commander USA's Groovie Movies, on the USA Network). Vadis was a martial artist and a leaner muscleman, with great speed and agility. he did stunts in US films and he makes great use of both, here. His head is shaved and he is deeply tanned (he was of Greek ancestry) which gives him an exotic look, similar to African-American athlete and actor Woody Strode (Spartacus, Sgt Rutledge, Tarzan's Three Challenges). In one scene, Vadis and Brad Harris, also an accomplished stuntman, have a amazing chase across rooftops, ledges, and into trees that is up there with Jackie Chan and is shot to show that they are doing it, not doubles. Later in the film, King and Rowland square off in the temple of the Three Cats, in a martial arts duel, that gets pretty brutal, as these things go.
Also part of the villain side was German actor Siegfried Rauch (Patton, The Big Red One, Le Mans). The love interest daughter is Ann Smyrner, a Danis actress who appeared in Reptilicus.
So Darling, So deadly is set in Singapore, where Joe Walker and Tom Rowland have been sent by Interpol to protect a scientist who has invented the Eradicon, a jeweled filter that magnifies the power of a laser into a weapon. The villain, The Golden Dragon, has offered a blank check for it and been spurned. The villain operates out of an old castle, which his henchpeople (many are women) enter via an underwater entrance, in scuba gear. Things get kind of nasty for one of the ladies, who gets a bit sweet on Joe Walker.
The budget for this becomes obvious when one of the Golden Dragon's assassins tries to kill Joe Walker, with a Topper Multi-Pistol toy...
It's supposed to be a dart gun (which it was, after a fashion). The climax features Walker and Rowland on/in torture devices. Walker is about to be skewered by spears, which one of the nastier GD ladies is unleashing upon him.
If you watch the clips, you may hear familiar voices watching the films. The English dubbing features Peter Fernandez, who wrote, directed and voiced the English dialogue for the Speed Racer anime series.
These are the best of the series and the closest to being true spy films, rather than detective or police films. Like Bond, there is quite a bit of overlap. The last with real spy trappings was the next, 1967's Death Trip.
This one is set in Istanbul, where Rowland escorts a shipment of LSD, to be used by the US Army!! It gets stolen (sure it does) and Rowland needs Joe Walker's help to catch the thieves, The Green Hounds.
1968 brought Kill Panther Kill, 1969 had Island of Lost Girls and 1971 ended the series with Tiger Gang. The films became increasingly tired after the initial three and the series ended.
These films became a staple of syndicated movie packages, where inexpensive color films were highly sought after, and were in heavy rotation in the 60s and early 70s, as color tv became more prominent. The series was far more popular in Europe, where it was a staple of tv and, later home video. A DVD collection was eventually released, in the US; but from old syndication masters, rather than original prints. Quality was the equivalent of an old VHS. It is probably fitting that these are only seen in lower grade prints, as they were filmed on the cheap and sold on the cheap, in the US. However, they make up for it in action and enthusiasm, plus two likeable leads. the English dubbing is obvious; but, Fernandez and his cast do a great job with it, keeping it lively.
These films weren't the only time Kendall and Harris teamed up. They can also be seen in the superhero spoof The Three Fantastic Supermen, one of many European films spawned by the success of the Batman tv series. It was also directed by Gianfranco Parolini, director of the Kommissar X films.
Next, we meet Agent 077, Dick Malloy (played by American actor Ken Clark, best known for South Pacific and Attack of the Giant leeches, in the US), as he punches and blasts his way through 3 films, including one with an actual Bond girl.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 28, 2019 21:20:30 GMT -5
s Dan Vadis was a reglar in many of Clint Eastwood's films in the 70s and 80s, including High Plains Drifter and The Gauntlet. Harris mostly worked in Europe, in many sword & sandal, Eurospy, and spaghetti westerns. In the US, he was probably best known as deputy Duffy, on Falcon Crest. He also did stunts in Spartacus and played a soldier, in Patton (uncredited).
This was Harris, at 80 (he died in 2017)...
If they had done Captain America, in the 60s, he would have been physically perfect.
Here's Vadis, as Roccia, in Spartacus and the Ten Gladiators...
I think he was the champion, based on the title belt he is wearing.
Here is the fight between Harris and Vadis, in Death Is Nimble, Death Is Quick...
Great stuff. First I ever heard of the Kommissar X films, will definitely be having a look for them.
All available on Youtube. The first three, at least, are available through the channel for Superseven, which is a group that makes amateur spy films, with characters Superseven (based on the Italian Super Argo) and Sandra West (a mix of Honey West, Emma Peel and a few others).
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 29, 2019 21:57:45 GMT -5
So, with everyone jumping on the spy bandwagon, the number 7 became pretty damn popular. 007 was trademarked; but, you can't trademark just the number 7, so all kinds of variations emerged. One of the most popular would be 077, who his friends knew as Dick Malloy, played by American ex-patriot Ken Clark.
Clark had been a contract player at 20th Century Fox but didn't set the world on fire. He got a few appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and a failed tv pilot, then Attack of the Giant Leeches. That's not exactly a resume for success. He moved more into modeling and worked construction. His good looks went over better in Italy, where talent wasn't necessarily as big a deal, when you were working for genre films. Not every Italian director was Visconti or Fellini. A lot of them were churning out genre knock-offs of what was popular in Hollywood. When Biblical epics were all the rage, they churned out sword & sandal. When Westerns were big, we got spaghetti westerns. For the py craze, Ken Clark's rugged good looks made him a perfect candidate for a spy.
The Agent 077 series begins with Mission Bloody Mary, directed by Terence Hathaway (Sergio Grieco).
Dick Malloy is making sweet love to some swinging chick when his R&R gets interrupted. The bad guys have hijacked a bomb and it's off for a romp across Europe for Dickie. He gets a snazzy automatic pistol that fires 9 shots (hey, most autos had 7 or 8 round magazines, depending on caliber), a trenchcoat, and some green stamps (I made up some of that) and he heads off to find the bomb. He meets a contact in a Parisian nightclub, who passes a message to him, during a striptease number. She ends up dead and he ends up fighting a guy with a knife. A rooftop chase gets pretty damn harry and there is a lot of action and death to be found.
Director Grieco was the son of a noted Italian Communist, but worked in more mundane circles, as a writer and director, specializing in swashbucklers and Eurospy films. One of his last endeavors was the screenplay for the original Inglorious Bastards.
Much like the westerns of Sergio Leone, the film gets a boost from some Ennio Morricone music, which you can put up with the best of John Barry. Morricone did all kinds of genre films, including Diabolik, with it's awesome guitar lick.
I think I saw this when I was young, at my great-grandparents house. We were left there while our parents and other relatives went somewhere else and they had vastly different tv stations than we did. There was a movie on, either a detective film or a spy film, with a big chase across rooftops. My memories are vague, as we didn't see the whole film. It was definitely European and I have narrowed it down to this one or Fantomas, though I lean more towards the latter.
This is a hard-hitting one and pretty good, for this sort of thing. It's probably a bit more of a detective film, masquerading as a spy film; but, then again, so were some of the Bond plots.
The film did big box office in Europe and played the secondary circuits in the US and a sequel followed...
From the Orient With Fury, aka Fury on the Bosphorus, followed and took Dick Malloy to Istanbul, as he looks or a kidnapped scientist. Malloy is in the middle of a bar fight when his boss interrupts with the new mission. The kidnapper is a super criminal, so, time to trot some globe and punch some goons. he has to put together clues, including liner notes on a Beethoven record sleeve, pieces of a medallion, and romances a bevy of beauties. The villain gets his death ray and acts like a crazed child, as Dick malloy attacks his island lair. It has some comedic spots; but, is mostly pulpy action.
Grieco is again the director and he and Clark did the three Agent 077 films, plus two other Eurospy films. The last of this series is probably the most creative, though more by comparison. it also has a legitimate Bond Girl, Daniela Bianchi (Tatiana Romanov, in From Russia With Love).
Special Mission Lady Chaplin is probably the coolest of the trilogy. Bianchi is Lady Chaplin, a mysterious fashion expert and secret assassin. Early in the film, she offs some monks, while disguised as a nun! Then, she kills a dude in a hospital, while disguised as an old lady, in a tricked out wheel chair (with mini-guns in the arm-rests).! The true villain is Jacques Bergerac, as Zoltan, an industrialist and marine salvage expert. A dog tag from the USS Thresher (a submarine that went down with all hands) is discovered and Malloy is trying to locate the source. Malloy eventually locates the sub and used an advanced bathysphere to go down to it, discovering that the 16 Polaris missiles are gone.
This one is credited to Alberto De Martino, though Grieco collaborated on the film. It's probably the most fun of the three films and the campier. Lady Chaplin is Zoltan's stooge, but starts playing both sides against one another. Malloy gets to fight a goon with a hook hand and some thugs in a bull ring. There could have been a series in Lady Chaplin; but, this is all we got. Grieco and Clark moved on to other spy films (Tiffany memorandum, The Fuller report)and Agent 077 came to an end, though the name was used on posters for a couple of other films, much as the name Django turned up on several westerns that had no connection to Sergio Corbucci's masterpiece.
Next, we go for the goofy as we look at the Italian spy spoof duology, James Tont, starring Lando Buzzanca.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 29, 2019 22:05:24 GMT -5
ps Special mission Lady Chaplin is available on Youtube, from the Superseven channel and a couple of other sources. Many of the Eurospy films are available on Youtube, as their copyrights in the US are long dead or, more likely, unknown. The exceptions seem to be Mission Bloody Mary and From the Orient With Fury. I found a Russian version of the former, with someone speaking over the dialogue, in Russian, so you can't hear anything. Only trailers for FTOWF. I have seen Mission Bloody mary listed for rent, on Amazon Prime.
Way back in the VHS days, you could find listings for dealers in cult films with VHS copies of these and similar films, with a lot of the European horror, spy, crime, sci-fi and sword & sandal films. You would see them advertised in Filmfax, Cult Movies, Psychotronic and other publications about cult films, with stuff like the Mabuse films, various Hercules movies, and a lot of stuff that turned up on classic MST3K. These kinds of films were staples of UHF stations, late night movie packages and other syndicated movie showcases, often with bad English dubbing and so-so prints (especially in the 70s).
Post by codystarbuck on Oct 2, 2019 12:11:44 GMT -5
So, the world is threatened by crazed madmen, criminal organizations have stolen nuclear weapons, the Russians have broken into the British Embassy; who do you call? Why, obviously, Agent 007
With the success of Goldfinger came a ton of imitators and a few satires. This series (well, two films), wa one of the better European ones. The films star Lando Buzzanca
Buzzanca was the son of a cinema projectionist, in Palermo, who fell in love with movies. he moved to Rome to try to break into the film industry, at the age of 16. His first on-screen role was as an uncredited save, in Ben-Hur. It took a while, but bigger parts followed and he appeared in Divorce, Italian Style, and many comedies about a southern Italian immigrant. With James Tont, he got to play a suave (well, in a Clouseau kind of way) secret agent.
The first film is James Tont: Operazione UNO....
Agent 007 1/2, James Tont, has parachuted onto some Caribbean island, when a messenger comes up and delivers a telegram. His mission is to locate a microfilm, which he finds hidden inside a thug. He first encounters the guy at a bar, where his alarm clock unnerves the man and he shoots Tont's trenchcoat, with the clock inside. He apologizes, they have a drink, which knocks out the thug and Tont inserts eyedrops, which give him x-ray vision, and he sees the microfilm. He personally performs surgery to remove it from his abdomen, while also removing his appendix, since it looked a bit inflamed. Tont is then ordered to Las Vegas to investigate Eric Goldsinger, He catches Goldsinger cheating at craps and defeats him, by covering dots on his loaded dice. Goldsinger threatens Tont and leaves, while his bodyguard, Kayo, crushes the dice. Later, Tont ends up with Goldsinger's secretary, who drugs him and tries to kill him. Tont is found by his CIA contact, Tristian Reider, covered in gold paint. he survives because the secretary ran out of paint and left a patch uncovered (as we all know, the skin will suffocate if entirely covered in gold paint, per Ian Fleming). Tont is then sent to New York to make contact with Agent SOS 112, who works for Goldsinger, as a music director, at his recording studio. Tont enters the place, masquerading as a singer, and records a demo, which Goldsinger loves as he hears it. He then sees CCTV footage of Tont and recognizes him. he then locks the door to the studio and activates the death machine, a ceiling which lowers to the floor, as a hydraulic press. A mouse speaks to Tont and leads him to an escape hole. The mouse is SOS 112, who is a ventriloquist (that's how she can talk, as a mouse). Tont escapes underwater to London and is briefed with the content of the microfilm. Goldsinger has been hired by the Red Chinese (you had to call them that, back then, to differentiate it from Taiwan and Hong Kong) to destroy UN HQ, somehow. Tont is sent to Italy to stop Goldsinger, equipped with gadgets and a Fiat 600...
If the plot sounds familiar, it's because it's pretty much lifted, wholesale, from Goldfinger. Directors & writers Bruno Corbucci and Giovanni Grimaldi take the plot of Goldfinger, dump a goofy doppleganger for Bond into it, and let the silliness ensue. Corbucci is the brother of Sergio Corbucci, director of Django and other spaghetti westerns. The younger brother wrote several scripts for the elder's films. The film basically twists around the conventions and scenes of the Bond film and plays them for laughs. Instead of Tont finding a lover dead, painted gold, the lover does it to him, though he survives, because she ran out of paint! Thing is, that Goldfinger idea is total nonsense and was debunked by Myth Busters. The problem with cabaret dancers that Fleming cited was due to the toxicity of the make-up, of the era, not "skin suffocation." Fleming also believed that sumo wrestlers could retract their testicles back into their body and that homosexuals could not whistle. So, not the most credible source.
Tont is less suave and debonair and more persistent. Aiding in the absurdity is Buzzanca's rather prominent beak of a nose. However, he is a handsome guy and has aged pretty well....
The version I have seen was dubbed in English and rather badly, which undercut a lot of the gags. The voice acting was pretty stiff, which doesn't help things. The visual gags are pretty good and the visual of the Fiat as Tont's car is pretty funny, especially given how tall Buzzanca is. There is a scene where he picks up a woman, at the side of the road, in this less than glamorous vehicle.
The name of the spy is a spoof on Bond and a commentary, as Tont is short for "tonto," which means dumb, in Italian. Tont isn't the brightest guy out there; but, he gets the job done. This Secret Service's Q (called Z, in the English dub, but called Y, in the sequel, in Italian) is also a bit of a buffoon. He kills test subjects with experiments to create oxygen pills (that fail), concocts all manner of strange gadgets and impractical devices.
On the whole, the first film is a bit thin, as it spends too much time trying to spoof specific scenes and plot elements of Goldfinger, which gets a bit worn out, rather early. It's better when it is trying to cover newer ground and with the visual humor (well, it translates etter). It does play with the absurdities of Goldfinger, such as having Tont strapped to a giant vinyl record, as a groove is worn into it (Holy RPMs, Batman), suggesting a rip-off of the Batman tv series, 1 year before its debut. Buzzanca is a likeable lead and the Z (or Y) character is quite un. There are plenty of lovely ladies and the villain is oaky. One of the best satires is of the Shirley Bassey rendition of Goldfinger. Here, it is Goldsinger...
The movie did well enough for a sequel, Operazione DUE.
This time out, we get more of an original story, with a few things swiped from Thunderball and a few things that predated You Only Live Twice.
James Tont attends and International Secret Agent Convention, in Geneva, where he argues in favor of the modern ))s, vs the old guard spies (as seen by a Col gerrard and the sister of Mata Hari). he is a rousing success and voted as the new director general. He is tripped by the little granddaughter of Mata hari's sister and falls down stairs and ends up in a health clinic, to recover. there, he plays a Tom and Jerry game with patient Mr Spring, over the affections of nurse Clarissa. Tont ends up frozen in a block of ice, after a radiation bath (!!) is sabotaged. His funeral is held in London, while Y unfreezes him. He is given a new mission, to locate and destroy a criminal conspiracy to attack a major religious institution, though they don't know which one. They only know that the criminal group uses a beatnik army as a cover. Tont infiltrates the beatniks, as Bingo Kowalski (they are really more Mods, than beatniks). Tont wows the crowd with a song and goes home with a lady beatnik, to he crumbling flat. there, they are attacked by her jealous boyfriend, while the room disintegrates around them. Tont escapes the boyfriend in the car of Samantha,a supposed rich American, who is actually an agent of Mr Spring, the head of the criminal group, using his Magnus Foods as a cover. they plan to hijack a space launch, from Cape Kennedy, by shrinking a pilot into paper size. tont has to both rescue Samantha and trade places with the pilot, get launched into space and return. He also has to prevent an attack on the Vatican, disguised as a Swiss Guard.
This film is a lot more fun and the move away from deliberate parody allows the comedy to come more naturally. The health clinic scenes are inspired by Thunderball; but, as I said, it has more of a Tom & Jerry back and forth. Tont is trapped on an exercycle, rather than stretched on a rack. he then boobytraps a croquet ball to get back at Mr Spring. At one point, he comes into his room, disguised as a nurse, and gives Spring an injection with a huge needle (harpoons him, too). The gadgets get sillier as he has a machine gun hidden in the heel of his shoe (take that, Maxwell Smart!), eyedrops that can send an emergency signal, with the right sequence of tears, radiation detecting nosedrops (which cause him to sneeze when near radioactive elements), not to mention the whole flattening machine of the villains. At one point, Tont and Samantha escape via special chewing gum, which blows a bubble that lifts them away. he later trades it to a kid, who floats away, while his mother tells him to be back by supper time (oh the days when parents kicked you out of the house for hours and let you discover your own fun).
Mr Spring is supposed to be Largo, and has a black monocle, instead of an eyepatch. he keeps losing it, when surprised, accompanied by the sound of breaking glass. He also switches it between eyes.
Lots of fun to be had in this one and it is genuinely funny. The spy convention features repeated attempts on Tont's life, while he is giving his speech. he befriends a little girl, before he goes in, whose grandmother is inside. Grandma is the sister of Mata Hari and granddaughter is the one who sabotages Tont, after he survived attempts by the Russians.
These have more in common with Austin Powers than either Derek Flint or Matt Helm, with more emphasis on sight gags and absurd situations. I recommend viewing in Italian, with subtitles, as it tends to hold up better than with the bad English dubbing. both can bee seen on Youtube, with the second in Italian, with subtitles, though I only saw the first in pure Italian or English dubbed, but not subtitled. Sadly, there were only the two films. However, it seems that someone has done a series of fan films, or something, as seen on Youtube.
Next, speaking of comedy spies, we look at the granddaddy of them (in the US) with Get Smart!
Post by codystarbuck on Oct 2, 2019 12:15:24 GMT -5
ps, please note, there is some bad labeling of the films on Youtube. The first film was called Goldsinger, in some markets, but, that name is used with clips and the full film for the sequel (Operazione DUE). You run into that a bit, with European film titles, in English, as references get them backwards. Also, Italian studios promoted different films under names of popular films. There are tons of Django films; but, many had nothing to do with the original. Agent 077 was used for a couple of other films without Ken Clark and not featuring Dick Malloy.
Post by codystarbuck on Oct 3, 2019 16:27:28 GMT -5
Our next entry is about the Greatest Secret Agent in the World. Would you believe the Second Greatest? Would you believe North America? How about the subject of a Mel Brooks tv show?
That's right; we are talking about Agent 86, himself, Maxwell Smart....
The series came about at the request of a producer who wanted to replicate the success of both James Bond and Inspector Clouseau, believing you could combine the two. mel Brooks and Buck henry were hired to write a comedy and Brooks was tired of situation comedies and wanted to do an outlandish one about an idiot. These two creative threads came together and a blithering idiot became America's favorite spy. Would you believe 2nd favorite? How about 3rd runner up in a Mr Knobbly Knees Competition?
Brooks and Henry conceived the premise and main characters: Maxwell Smart is Agent 86, working for the counter-intelligence agency CONTROL. His partner is the moe capable female Agent 99 and they report to The Chief. The enemy is KAOS, a secret criminal conspiracy out to rule the globe, while being incorporated in delaware, for tax reasons.
Brooks was involved in the first season, but his attention was mostly elsewhere for most of the rest, leaving Buck Henry as a main creative force. The writers and directors of the series are a who's who of tv comedy: Richard Donner, James Komak, Bruce Bilson, Gary Nelson, Reza Badiyi, Gerald Gardner & Dee Caruso, Allan Burns & Chris Hayward, and many more. Dialogue became catch phrases, props became repeated favorites and a sweet little romance blossomed between Agents 86 and 99, eventually leading to marriage.
The series starts with the gags from the opening titles, which sees Max pass through a seemingly endless series of improbable doors, presumably to enter CONTROL HQ...
Typical episodes see some event occur and then Max and 99 are briefed by the Chief about their assignment. being a stickler for regulations, Max usually invokes the Cone of Silence...
The show made great use of outlandish gadgets, most particularly Brooks' creation: the shoe phone
99 got phones inside compacts and even a finger nail, which she chewed to send a message. Max also drove a 1965 Sunbeam Tiger 2-seater, with all kinds of optional gadgets.
Aiding Max and 99 (whose name is never revealed, except for a false one given, then later retracted) are Larabee, the Chief's incompetent assistant, Hodgkins (assistant in early episodes), Hymie the Robot (Dick Gautier), Agent 13, the master of disguise (hidden in unusual places),
Fang, the CONTROL mutt.....
and Dr Steele the beautiful scientist....
KAOS tended to feature guest stars, though with Bernie Koppel recurring as Siegfried...
In the pilot, the head of KAOS, Mr Big, was played by Little Person actor Michael Dunn (Dr Loveless, on TWWW)...
The show was not only a spy spoof, as the matters of counter-intelligence were also a showcase for workplace humor, as we see such things as the CONTROL union, and CONTROL and KAOS have their own bowling teams.
The series ran for 4 seasons on NBC, then switched to CBS for the 5th and final season. It won 7 Emmys, was nominated for another 14, and won 2 Golden Globe Awards. It was a favorite staple of syndication, where its gentler version of espionage and brilliant comedy got past censorship and made for a more family-oriented show. It made Don Adams and Barbara Feldon stars and feldon even recorded a novelty song, as 99...
That would have seemed to be it; but, reunion fever was strong in the late 70s and 80s, which led to a get Smart movie, The Nude Bomb.
Sadly, only Larabee came along for the ride, as other roles were recast. barbara Feldon wasn't even approached and was unaware of the production, until the release. Buck henry and Mel Brooks also had no involvement and it shows in the rather lame comedy that fills the film, compared to the original series. Dana Elcar takes over a the Chief and Sylvia Kristel (of the Emmanuelle erotic film series) as Agent 36. The enemy is led by a mad fashion designer, Norman Saint Sauvage. CONTROL is renames PITS (Provisional Intelligence Tactical Service).
The film lived up to its name, failing to make back its budget, in theatrical release and was a massive disappointment to fans and critics. It was nominated for Worst Film at the Golden Raspberry awards; but, lost to the disco film Can't Stop the Music (with the Village People). For tv broadcast, it was titled The return of Maxwell Smart, which was the originally intended title.
Failure didn't stop things and a second reunion film was conceived and shot, this time with the involvement of the originals, including Mel Brooks, Buck henry, Don Adams, Barbara Feldon, Dick Gautier, and bernie Koppel. KAOS kidnaps a scientist to create a weather machine and seems to be one step ahead of Max. it turns out they have a stolen copy of 99's unpublished memoirs and KAOS has been restructured, after a corporate takeover. Siefried is only a figurehead.
The film did much better than the theatrical counterpart and would lead to a potential series revival. However, it didn't quite play out as expected. the series was eventually greenlit; but, as a vehicle for Andy Dick, as Max and 99's son Zach, who is now a CONTROL agent (and Max is now The Chief). 99 is a congresswoman. Zach is teamed up with Agent 66 and sent on new missions. His twin sister is mentioned but never seen, though there is an unseen female head of KAOS. Had the series not been cancelled, she would have been revealed to be the twin sister. The twins were originally seen in season 5 of the original, as babies. The show was not a hit and the episodes proved to be rather cliched and lacking in sharp satire. The plug was pulled, after 7 episodes, and Andy dick moved on to News Radio. With Get Smart Again aring on ABC, Get Smart became the only tv property to air on all major networks.
As if that weren't enough, Hollywood proved to be completely devoid of new ideas and began making films out of old tv properties (and film franchises) as no one wanted to risk money on new things, in a corporate environment. This led to a new Get Smart film, as a vehicle for The Office's Steve Carrel, in 2008...
Ann Hathaway is 99 and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is Agent 23. Alan Arkin is The Chief. The film finds CONTROL taking on KAOS, who takes its name more literally. It's what you would suspect, big on CGI explosions, stunts, and sight gags, with plenty of toilet humor and humor in a toilet; yet, somehow, it actually managed to be pretty funny. A lot had to do with the cast, who elevate a cliched story and The Rock got to flex comedy muscle, rather than just action cliches. The films uses the series cliches, but mostly does so lovingly and succeeds, despite the derivative nature. There was talk of sequels; but, the increasing demands for the cast seems to have scuttled that idea.
Don Adams made regular use o the catch phrases and personna in other tv and film roles. he would also voice tennessee Tuxedo and, later, the more directly connected Inspector Gadget cartoon series. barbara Feldon bounced around in guest roles and a few romantic comedies, though these became less frequent, as she aged (proving Hollywood doesn't know a good actress when they have one). Ed Platt died in 1974 and Don Adams passed away in 2005. Dick Gautier passed away in 2017. Dave Ketchum, who played Agent 13 is still going, while Robert Karvelas (Larabee) died in 1991. Bernie Kopell is still alive and well as is Barbara Feldon, who spoofed her spy past onan episode of Mad About You (Mel brooks also appeared several times on that show).
Get Smart was an exceptionally funny tv series, especially during the NBC years. It was rarely one of the top shows of the season; but, was a fan favorite. It spawned a comic series from Dell....
Issue 2 featured art from Steve Ditko!
Next time, we look at a comic strip, inspired by Bond, that spun-ff novels and 3 attempts at film adaptations, with varying results. Come on back to meet Modesty Blaise, a woman ahead of her time.
Weren't we all in love with Feldon? And all through my school years EVERYONE could quote lines and bits from Get Smart, it was that popular a show in syndication. Of course I have the complete series on DVD since it truly is classic and very watchable. There are some things in movies or television which transcends the time they were created in. Bond has this quality, Steed and Peel, Get Smart, Wild Wild West, Helm, Flint and their likes while providing glimpses and reflections of the past also remain entertaining and fun to watch here in the present. All of these are truly "classic" in every way for how good they are at release and then for repeated viewings and even for being seen for the 1st time by new viewers.
Gimme a home on the ol' prairie where I can sit in my rockin' chair reading my favorite old comic books of yesteryear!
The Nude Bomb is a riot and I find it one of the silliest movie made at that time and I just felt that Dana Elcar was perfect as Chief. I was totally surprised to see Sylvia Kristel in this movie. This movie was a total riot and its quite effective as a comedy. I was total surprise to see that the reviews were bad, downright horrible, and shocked that most of the general audiences except me enjoyed it.