For our last installment of spy genre flicks we have Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (1966) and Agent 69 in the Sign of Scorpio (1977).
We may traverse back into the land espionage again, but my saturation of spy movies has been reached. It was a fun ride, but I'm ready to tackle the next genre.... Women in Prison movies maybe?
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (1966)
Se tutte le donne del mondo (original title)
Like any good spy movie, this follows all the tropes faithfully. It has an exotic locale (Rio), a megalomaniac with a diabolical master plan (to turn the world sterile and repopulate it with his harem), a secret agent (played by Mike Connors before "Mannix") and a bevy of beauties to serve as eye candy.
The film starts off with a bang with a gun battle atop the Christ the Redeemer statue. It is a Dino De Laurentiis film after all.
This chick has been delivered flowers by her beau, the wealthy industrialist David Ardonian (Raf Vallone), the film's requisite megalomaniac. He has a habit of delivering deadly gifts to the girls that have been unfaithful to him. In this case, he's delivered a bouquet of orchids... with a scorpion inside!
Fortunately, she's saved by Kelly (Mike Connors) who literally shoots the scorpion between her legs. What an entrance! First a gun battle atop Christ the Redeemer, now he's literally shooting a scorpion between a girl's legs. So far, Kelly is beating 007 himself in accumulation of cool points. Let's see if he can maintain.
Here is bad guy Ardonian tending to his lovely orchids.... and who is that on the right? Oh, that's Omar (Sandro Dori) his creepy, psychopath henchman. And when I say "creepy", I mean it...
Omar is easily the creepiest baddie to ever grace a Bond-clone movie. (shiver)
Dorothy Provine plays the ever-so-proper Susan Fleming, a secret agent colleague of Kelly. Provine also appeared in another Bond-clone, One Spy Too Many (1966). Again, she played the slightly comic prude to counter the brash male agent counterpart.
But, unlike in One Spy Too Many, Provine provides a rare bit of cheesecake. When Ardonian comes to call, she's in the middle of getting dressed, and we come very close to seeing a rear view of Provine.
Ardonian demonstrates to a delegation from China his master plan: to orbit a satellite over the United States which will emit a wave pattern which will cause all Americans to lose their sexual drive. The horror!
Nothing particularly important going on here; just a fancy party hosted by Ardonian. The only thing of note here is Provine's amazing dress. Gotta love that mod sixties glamour.
Romance blooms between Kelly and Susan Fleming. He the cocky US agent, she the prim and proper British agent - it's a match made in stereotype heaven. At least we get a look at Provine in a nightie, so I can forgive the overt lameness.
So, Susan's chauffeur (played by Terry Thomas, being as British as possible) is actually an jungle explorer. He introduces them to a tribe of natives who have had their sexual desires completely eradicated.... in what could only be the work of Ardonian.
Susan is captured and taken into Ardonian's secret submarine. Mannix....er, I mean, Kelly, is hot on the trail. Check out the set - it's like an Irwin Allen production.
Ardonian reveals his master plan to Susan Fleming. The coup de grâce is his harem of cryogenically frozen girlfriends. You see, his creepy henchman, Omar, hadn't actually terminated all his cheating lovers, but rather preserved them in a state of suspended animation.
The plot thickens. Rather than ally with the Chi-Coms, he electrocutes all of them, leaving only the foxy Wilma Soong (Seyna Seyn) to become one of his frozen harem.
In the end, Susan is rescued by Kelly, Ardonian and creepy henchmen are killed, and the anti-sex satellite is destroyed. It's a happy ending ...except, I suppose, for Ardonian's frozen harem. It never really explains if they were saved as well.
In summary, the film starts out strong, but then fizzles into a Bond caricature that offers nothing new. Provine is, as always, gorgeous, but she, as always, is a bit too modest to carry a Bond girl role. Mannix is great, but he sort of fades once Susan comes on the scene. Then there's the whole Terry Thomas subplot, which is just plain stupid. All in all, it's a fun watch, I suppose, but it's not likely to make anyone's top ten spy movie list.
Agent 69 in the Sign of Scorpio (1977)
This particular Bond spoof from Denmark piqued my interest because it stars Ingmar Bergman's daughter, Anna, in a film that can basically be called a porno. Even this point is interesting: this film has a high production value, a comedic plot, legit actors, etc.... yet, it has hardcore scenes here and there. The fact that it's a secret agent flick raises the interest even more. Let's see what this unique entry in the pantheon of spy thrillers has to offer...
Ole Søltoft plays Agent 69 Jensen. He's been stuck doing menial duties posing as a health food store employee. But now The Chief (Poul Bundgaardat) at Danish Intelligence has finally given him a mission.
An alternative fuel source to oil has been invented, and its composition is on a secret microfilm. Jenson's job is to guard the courier delivering the microfilm to the CIA.
And so we are introduced to the bad guy, Scorpio (Karl Stegger), who wants to intercept this microfilm. In addition, there's his partner in crime, Matty Hari (Gina Janssen).
Along comes the dimwitted Arnold (Søren Strømberg) who has bumbled his way into inadvertently becoming the courier of the microfilm (he just happened to say the secret password).
Arnold is the timid son of Irma Anderson, the widow of the greatest spy of the Danish Intelligence. If only Arnold could live up to his father's name.
That's a young Scorpio above, gunning down Arnold's father, Irma's late husband. Irma vows to one day have her revenge on Scorpio.
The real courier from the United States arrives, and The Chief learns of their mistake in thinking the mildly retarded Arnold was their man. They play a cassette tape of the US president verifying his identity (and it is hilarious to hear a Jimmy Carter voice with a thick Scandinavian accent).
The girl, by the way, is Penny, played by the daughter of renowned filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman (Anna Bergman). She's a Swedish agent working with the Danish government.
She's tasked with the job of questioning Irma Anderson. In the eyes of the government, she has pulled a fast one by having her dumb son pose as courier.
But Penny underestimates the ladies who have obviously learned a thing or two from the late Mr. Anderson. She's knocked out and tied up, and the ladies learn that the Danish government is out to kill poor halfwit Arnold!
Meanwhile, Arnold is on a train to Bromby to deliver what he thinks is health food. He is being followed by Agent 69 Jensen, who uses all manner of ridiculous disguises to remain incognito. Also aboard are Matty Hari and her partner Citron-Børge (Bent Warburg). Try as they might, they can't quite get Arnold's bag.
There's a fairly drawn-out game of cat-and-mouse aboard the train, with everyone (Matty Hari and Citron, Penny and the widows, Agent 69, and finally, the US agent and The Chief) playing the bait-and-switch with Arnold's bag. Eventually, they all wind up at the palatial estate of Scorpio.
There, Scorpio challenges Arnold, The Chief, and the US agent to a deadly game of pool. Winner gets the microfilm, the loser.... well, you know.
Penny gains admittance under cover as a French maid. I think it's worth noting here that this film would have been perfectly fine without the addition of pointless porn scenes. Sure, it still would have been sleazy with plenty o' T&A, but why it felt the need to insert the insertions (if you know what I mean) is beyond me.
Penny is doinked by Citron, then captured.... just in time for the arrival of the Sheik of Obec. The sheik will, no doubt, want the precious microfilm.... but who has it? There's been so many bait-and-switches, then I've lost track of this shell game, and don't know myself.
To add to this cacophony of silliness, Scorpio must appease the sheik while he frantically tries to find the microfilm. Citron delivers one of Scorpio's babes for his royal pleasure to bide himself some time.
Matty Hari gets it on with the US agent. Yes, there's a porn scene here - and I'm a bit surprised to find a couple of the leads in this film going all the way, including Gina Janssen, the chick who plays Matty Hari. (Ann Bergman clearly uses a body double)
I echo Scorpio's sentiments exactly. After an hour of everyone floundering for the film, I'm ready for it to end for god's sake.
Finally, we reach the climactic scene, where Arnold finds the microfilm in a bun, which leads to everybody and everyone chasing after each other (including the 'little person' Torben Bille, whom you may know from infamous The Sinful Dwarf). Penny and Jensen finally get it and turn it over to The Chief. The End.
If you've seen the Austin Powers movies or Hot Enough for June (1964), you've seen the high water mark for silly Bond spoofs. If you've seen Casino Royale (1967) or Nerds of a Feather (1990), you've seen the low. This lands somewhere in between.
The T&A in this film is an embarrassment of riches, with even Ann Bergman delivering the full monty. And, believe it or not, not every joke falls flat. It's a fun watch, one of the best sexploitation films I've seen.
But, I'll say it one last time, the addition of porn scenes was completely unnecessary, and thereby plucks this film from classic cult/drive-in status, and lands it in the 'surprisingly well made porn' category... which, to my thinking, is not as good a place to be.