The Silencers is a quintessential 1960s spy spoof, the first (and best) of four colourful Matt Helm features, with debonair “Rat Pack” member Dean Martin cleverly cast as author Donald Hamilton’s womanising smoothie, the Man from “ICE” (Intelligence and Counter Espionage).
Criminal mastermind and Red Chinese warlord Tung-Tze (blue-eyed Victor Buono) of the evil Big O organisation plans to sabotage America’s atomic missile system and blow US missiles out of the sky.
It’s up to top fashion photographer, incorrigible ladies’ man and undercover super-agent Matt Helm – coaxed out of retirement – to prevent it from happening, provided he can keep his eyes off the ladies long enough to concentrate on the job at hand.
The attitudes may have dated – this is very much of its time – but the women continue to delight, especially red-headed Stella Stevens who steals the show as the sexy and delightfully funny klutz Gail Hendricks.
The Silencers ensured Dean Martin was the height of cool in 1966. Also making an impact are former Miss Israel Daliah Lavi and one-time MGM siren Cyd Charisse, whose memorable opening dance sequence and title song is a highlight.
Beverly Adams, later Sassoon, wife of celebrity hairdresser Vidal, played Helm’s secretary, the brilliantly named Lovey Kravezit (“craves it”).
Helm returned in Murderer’s Row (1966), The Ambushers (1967) and The Wrecking Crew (1969) – all based on books by Donald Hamilton.
The Matt Helm films were notable for their colourful and creative set design and were an obvious later inspiration for Austin Powers.
Roger C Carmel