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"The Silencers," "Our Man Flint" and 1966

"Our Man Flint" and "The Silencers" are American spoofs of James Bond. They aren't really good movies...especially The Silencers...but I list them because I was really into that spy craze, and it pretty much peaked in 1966. On TV, The Man From UNCLE, The Wild Wild West, I Spy and The Avengers (from Britain) were going strong. Thunderball had been a huge 1965 hit, and I saw it again in the summer of 1966.

"Our Man Flint" elevated James Coburn to 60's stardom. Like Rod Taylor, Coburn never really got cast in a truly major, Oscar-type movie, both men burst on the scene and faded over time...but Coburn lasted longer. He had a great, deep sonorous voice, a lanky body...a great walk(as did Cary Grant and Paul Newman) and big choppers that cut into his handsomeness .

"The Silencers" gave Dean Martin HIS Bondian superspy, and though he was good looking and looked good in a tux(on TV, not in this movie)....he was a bored bust AS a superspy. The plot and villains were like a BAD episode of The Man From UNCLE. Closer to Get Smart. Or Austin Powers.

The big deal in The Silencers(which was a big hit) Playboy-level curvaceous babes, wall-to-wall and often "serving" Dino. Stella Stevens(who relished her "sex star" label) was one of them, but there were plenty more. Sure it was sexist, but in 1966, it was also sexy -- what Hugh Hefner was selling, and a lot of men were buying(and boys were peeking at).

It remains one of the great childhood memories of my life to have seen "The Silencers" and to have seen "The Scene" that came early in the movie: Dino's Matt Helm awakens alone in his big, circular bed, and technology pushes the bed towards a wall that opens to reveal a giant indoor pool-cum-bathtub, complete with bubble bath.

And ...a BABE. Named "Lovey Kravezit" (get it) who is clearly naked under the suds(as is Dino) and who helps wash him before the two of them emerge for a "robot towel" dry. (Nudity always intimated without being shown.)

Well...a young pre-teen boy sees THAT scene at an early age and his hopes for the years after puberty have a BIG fantasy. Never happened, of course, but .. well, never mind.

Its odd to me that the American studios could only match Bond with silly, jokey, almost juvenile spoofs. Coburn was cool, but Dino was not. These films revealed the early Bond films to be rather serious -- or at least dangerous, what with the vicious mano-y-mano between Connery and Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love and Goldfiner's laser ever approaching the area between Bond's legs. Perhaps the "exotic" British foreigness of the Bond movies dashed the American hopes of matching them. Very odd though.