When I reviewed Austin Powers, I mentioned that it appeared to be spoofing the James Bond spoofs, such as the Matt Helm films, of which I had seen bits and pieces here and there. I decided to remedy my partial viewing of the first Matt Helm film, The Silencers, to see how well it actually held up in full this many decades after its release (it was made in 1966, making it contemporary with the early Bond films).
Matt Helm is played by Dean Martin, and the role (at least in the movie; it’s based on a novel) was clearly written for Martin. Helm is an ex-secret agent for the American agency I.C.E. (Intelligence and Counter Espionage; this was a long time before the U.S. actually had an organization with those initials); he’s roped back in by his boss MacDonald (James Gregory) when an I.C.E. agent is killed investing a terrorist plot and Helm is the nearest person to the area where it occurred. Helm would rather continue playing photographer playboy (or Playboy photographer); he’s one of those characters that is both a womanizer and inexplicably attractive to women. Seriously, there’s only one woman in the film who doesn’t wind up at least trying to get in bed with him, and she’s shot three minutes after her introduction. Continue reading