Retro Film Report #10: The Ambushers (1967) Part Two

When we last left Helm, he'd gone apeshit after being drugged by Francesca, ripping her clothes off then passing out cold.  Fortunately for him, Sheila shows up and the tables are turned on Francesca. 

If you'll recall, Sheila was supposed to be insane.  She'd driven her top secret flying saucer into the jungles of Acapulco and been captured.  Months later, the US government finds her wandering around the jungle, crazy as a shithouse rat. What happened? She seems in perfect control.

It seems Sheila is, in fact, quite sane - she's been pretending. (I'm not exactly sure why she was doing that, but I'll go with it. Don't ask questions, just play along.) It's this kind of ridiculousness that gives this movie a bad rap (as I mentioned, Michael Medved called this one of the 50 worst films of all time).  I conted that it's no worse than Danger Diabolik, a similarly styled movie which has a huge cult following, and much respect.  Sure, The Ambushers is tongue-in-cheek, but is that a bad thing?

Well, it doesn't take long before both Helm and Sheila are captured by the diabolical Ortega in his secret lair (a la. Dr. Evil).  A man in a Fez (just like Will Farrell in the Austin Powers movie) wants to purchase the government UFO from Ortega.

Francesca is also there, and she too wants to purchase the flying saucer.

However, Ortega reveals that neither Fez nor Francesca will get their precious UFO. The sick bastard is selling it to the Chinese!  To add insult to injury, Ortega then sentences Helm to death by firing squad and wants to make Sheila his personal sex slave. 

We quickly discover that Francesca is a pretty resourceful lady. While Helm is preparing to have his brains blown out, she puts some lipstick on Sheila (obviously, the same deadly trickery she used on Helm earlier).

Then, the tricktess, Francesca, finds her way to the hidden flying saucer, but is manhandled by that dirty Fez wearing asshole before she can get in.

What this slimy Fez wearing sonofabitch doesn't realize is that only women can pilot the UFO. You heard me - for some reason this ship kills men.  This is why ICE had Sheila pilot the saucer in the first place.

Meanwhile, Helm is getting ready to die by firing squad.  He asks for one last cigarette - little do they know the secret agent smoke acts as a laughing gas.  Quintano, the firing squad leader and henchman, is reduced to tears and uncontrollable laughter.

I've gotta say here that I've read a lot of reviews for this film and they all say the same thing: Dean Martin phones this role in. Obviously, these critics just don't get it.  That's precisely what made Dino so great - he was too busy having fun to take this acting bit seriously.  Every line he spoke was with a sly wink to the camera, and audiences ate it up.  Dino is the anti-Liam Neeson... if you get my meaning.

Anyway, Sheila has drugged Ortega with her lipstick, and has him all hot and bothered aboard the UFO.  Ah, but let's not forget that this flying saucer KILLS MEN!

In the climactic scene, Sheila is aboard the UFO which is like a runaway beer truck spiralling down a train track toward the edge of a cliff.  However will she escape? My main man, Helm, puts Sheila on the back of his motorbike and send the UFO off the cliff where it explodes into a million pieces.

The movie's epilogue is perfect.  Helm is making advances at a new ICE recruit with Martin's "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes" playing in the background.  For some reason this chick just isn't in the mood.  This simply doesn't happen! Has Helm lost his mojo?

He changes the record to a Sinatra song ("Strangers in the Night") and suddenly she can't control herself.  She's all over him.

Get it? If you don't, chances are you would hate this movie. For the rest of you who appreciate Dino's outlandishly cool persona, you will lap this movie up and beg for more. Personally, I admire the Rat Pack mentality: those ultra-cool hipsters who were constantly in pursuit of the fairer sex, and only asked for two things out of life - a stiff drink and a close shave. 

The Ambushers is James Bond, Austin Powers, and Leslie Neilson all rolled up into one.  But what sets it apart for me is Dino.  I could watch him mow the yard and be glued to his every move. He was and will always be the very definition of cool. And never was he cooler than in The Ambushers.


  1. I've said it before and I'll say it again: When I want to watch a movie, this is exactly the kind of flick I want to see! Pure, unadulterated, frivolous escapism at it's best.

  2. Looks like they got right into the space age mod era didnt' they?

  3. SignOfZetaMay 04, 2010

    Believe me, I WANT to like this movie, but its total craparoo. Sorry.

  4. I can't believe you skipped over where Sheila gets her clothes taken off by a magnetic ray gun by the villain.

  5. But what happened to Francesca?

    Recently, I finally watched Rita Hayworth in Gilda. The movie is amazing whenever Rita is on the screen--she's a knock out, and fun to watch. HOWEVER--The rest of the movie is a piece of junk. For some reason, the movie can't decide if "Gilda" is this terrible tramp....or maybe she's--I don't know--still a virgin.

    If you haven't seen the movie, I'd still recommend it...only be prepared to fast forward through the crap where Gilda's not on the screen (and if you feel confused, that's only because the movie makes no sense).

  6. Danger Diabolik is one of my all time favorites. Like James Bond crossed with Adam West's Batman. Great soundtrack too.

  7. I think that flying saucer was also used in a MONKEES episode, "Monkees Watch Their Feet..."

    Also, Dean's Daughter was in a separate MONKEES show, a scene where Davy enters whistling "Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime..."

    Al Bigley

  8. I LOVE the Matt Helm movies, I like the Wrecking Crew the Best: Sharon Tate, Elke Sommer, and Tina Louise. The Silencers with Stella Stevens was good too.....shesh, just about all of the movies had a girl With Red or strawberry blinde hair....

  9. I love the girls but Dean Martin is pure crap. It is like he couldn't be bothered to deliver a line properly. He doesn't care if he makes a crap flick. BUT it is sooooo bad I do enjoy the Matt Helm films on that level. Crapolatainment.

  10. Hey pallie, man thanks so much for more stellar Dino-prose....part duo has just been posted at ilovedinomartin...thanks for diggin' our Dino and sharin' your Dino-passion with others....