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SILENCERS, THE (director: Phil Karlson; screenwriters: from the Donald Hamilton novels The Silencers and Death of a Citizen/Oscar Saul; cinematographer: Burnett Guffey; editor: Charles Nelson; music: Elmer Bernstein; cast: Dean Martin (Matt Helm), Stella Stevens (Gail), Daliah Lavi (Tina Batori), James Gregory (MacDonald), Victor Buono (Tung-Tze), Arthur O’Connell (Wigman), Robert Webber (Sam Gunther), Nancy Kovack (Barbara), Roger C. Carmel (Andreyev), Cyd Charisse (Sarita), Beverly Adams (Lovey Kravezit); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Irving Allen; Columbia; 1966)
A tawdry action comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The first of the Matt Helm films starring Dean Martin (others are: Murderer’s Row, The Wrecking Crew and The Ambushers), as the laid-back Sean Connery (which means less action and more lame comedy, since there’s no chance in believing Dino as a super competent action hero). Phil Karlson (“Framed”/”Walking Tall”/”Ben”)directs the ‘bosoms and bullets’ flick as a tawdry action comedy. It’s based on Donald Hamilton’s popular series of novels such as The Silencers and Death of a Citizen, and is scripted by Oscar Saul.

The over-sexed American superspy Matt Helm (Dean Martin), working for ICE (Intelligence Counter Espionage), is coaxed out of retirement when American Intelligence discovers that an enemy ring led by the Chinese Tung-Tze (Victor Buono) is planning to divert an American missile so that it will destroy a vital atomic testing base in the United States and the baddies try to assassinate him even before he takes the case. Matt is aided by former colleague Tina Batori (Daliah Lavi), and the duo follow the spy tracks to Phoenix to witness the murder of the stripper Sarita (Cyd Charisse) by Sam Gunther (Robert Webber). Before she dies, Sarita hands over a valuable American scientist’s computer tape to the klutzy Gail (Stella Stevens), who had been with Gunther. Helm uses force to make the well-meaning Gail take them to Tung-Tze’s hideout. Once there Helm discovers who is the real leader of the spy ring and destroys the equipment to be used to divert the missile heading for Alamogordo, N.M., and then eliminates the members of the spy ring.

In case the pic bores you, as it did me, you can tune into the soundtrack and hear Dino sing such tunes as “If You Knew Susie,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “South of the Border,” and “The Glory of Love.”But the best thing might be just to take a pass on this ersatz Bond and instead watch the real Bond films–even its worst one is better than this obnoxious one that stars a miscast Dean Martin.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”