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Wrecking Crew, The (1969)

For the fourth and last of the Matt Helm spy spoofs starring Dean Martin, Phil Karlson – director of original movie The Silencers (1966) – was dragooned back into service.

The resulting romp is a send-up of Goldfinger (1964) in which Helm has to locate tons of American gold bullion stolen from a hijacked train by bad guy Count Contini (Nigel Green) and his well-drilled mob, who intend to use it to destabilise the markets of the western world.

Needless to say, Helm’s investigation involves the seduction of several women (including the tragic Sharon Tate – this was the last of her films before her brutal murder in August 1969), a trek across Europe and a lot of gadgets.

Count Contini is aided by his psychotic-but-lovely left-hand woman Linka Karensky (Elke Sommer) – who makes a stunning entry in a tight-fitting white dress slashed almost to her waist – and the alluring martial artist Wen Yu-Rang (Nancy Kwan).

Matt Helm is briefed by Commander ‘Mac’ MacDonald (John Larch) and told to head to Denmark and seek out Contini’s former confidant and squeeze, Lola Medina (Tina Louise from Gilligan’s Island).

Lola seems very keen to unburden herself of Contini’s secret plan along with most of her clothes. Sadly, her former boss is ahead of the game and blows her up.

Bumbling Danish tourist guide Freya Carlson (Tate) is on hand to save the day when Helm is attacked by Yu-Rang. Despite her female Clark Kent routine, it turns out the bespectacled Ms Carlson is also a spy.

Everything careers towards the inevitable scrap between Matt and Contini but not before some entertaining gadgetry and a car chase in which Matt and Freya assemble a mini-helicopter in record time and fly off to stop Contini as he heads off to a suspiciously Californian-looking Luxembourg.

Fans of Austin Powers will lap up its sexism, groovy styling and general lack of subtlety.

Matt Helm
Dean Martin
Linka Karensky
Elke Sommer
Freya Carlson
Sharon Tate
Wen Yu-Rang
Nancy Kwan
Count Massimo Contini
Nigel Green
Lola Medina
Tina Louise
John Larch
Chuck Norris

Phil Karlson