Matt Helm Lounge US Theatrical Release: The Silencers: February 18, 1966; Murderers’ Row: December 20, 1966; The Ambushers: December 22, 1967; The Wrecking Crew: February 5, 1969 (Columbia) US DVD Release: December 6, 2005 Running Time: The Silencers: 1:42:21 (28 chapters); Murderers’ Row: 1:45:02 (12 chapters); The Ambushers: 1:41:52 (12 chapters); The Wrecking Crew: 1:44:54 (12 chapters) Rating: The Wrecking Crew is PG (For Sensuality, Violence and Some Language); the others are unrated, but sport a similar amount of cartoonish sex and violence Video: All four films are 1.85:1 Anamorphic Audio: All feature English DD2.0 mono (the box lists The Wrecking Crew as including Japanese DD2.0 mono, but it doesn’t) Subtitles: The Silencers has English and French; the other films all have English, Japanese and Spanish TV-Generated Closed Captions: English Menus: Not animated. Packaging: Two half-thickness double-disc keepcases with a cardboard outer slipcover; no inserts. The entire package is about as thick as a regular plastic keepcase in a slipcover, and the discs are securely held and easy to access. MSRP: $34.94 Come back with me now to a time of swingin’ secret agents, go-go chicks in go-go boots, and completely automated robotic boudoir furniture. No, it’s not another Austin Powers sequel – it’s the real deal. The original swinger, Dean Martin, smirks his way through four mid-‘60s spy spoofs as secret agent/ girlie mag photog Matt Helm with a drink in one hand, a smoke in the other, and a buxom babe (or seven) at his side. The Silencers THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 2.5/5 The Silencers opens with a low-rent Bondesque song-and-dance, and follows that with 100 minutes of low-rent Bond spoof. It features “The B.I.G. O.,” a low-rent SPECTRE copy, and evil mastermind Tung-Tze (Victor Buono), who takes a low-rent Blofeld even lower with that most dated of dated ‘60s devices, the Ridiculous Oriental Portrayed By A White Comic. The special effects are on par with those of contemporary television shows such as Star Trek. Stella Stevens and Daliah Lavi are, shall we say, earthier than the girls generally featured opposite Connery and Moore. Where Bond drove an Aston Martin with machine guns and an ejection seat, Matt Helm tools around in a woodmobile station wagon with an automatic built-in bar. Of course, it’s all played for laughs, and laughs it gets. It should entertain those who find the whole swingin’ lounge culture amusing. A number of running gags are introduced that continue through the sequels, such as silly trick guns, evil henchmen who wear absurdly mundane security guard uniforms (and are dumb enough to fall for the gun tricks), and the occasional dig at Deano’s pal Sinatra. There are also the “Slaygirls,” a bevy of buxom lasses who – well, they don’t really do much at all, but they sure do look swell. The plot should be fairly obvious by now. Don’t expect it too make much sense, though. Just sit back and enjoy the goofs. Unfortunately, though, The Silencers does have its issues. For one thing, it suffers from poor editing. Many scenes go on just a bit too long, sometimes with unnecessary dialogue, other times simply with shots that linger for no apparent reason. Also, the use of incidental music is a little strange – it’s mysteriously absent in some scenes (for example, a car chase), while at other times it pops up in weird places (for example, during some dialogue immediately following said car chase). These flaws detract from what is otherwise a nicely silly guilty pleasure. THE WAY I SEE IT: 2.5/5 The picture is pretty average. Colors are rich and not quite realistic, with a very ‘60s look. Darker scenes occasionally display some weird discoloration – look closely at faces to see some purplish splotching. Detail is only OK. Close examination will reveal some digital artifacting, but it won’t be very noticeable on smaller sets. There is a bit of edge enhancement of the ghosted edge sort (as opposed to the white haloes). THE WAY I HEAR IT: 3.5/5 The DD2.0 mono soundtrack is not too shabby. Dialogue and music are crisp and clear. Don’t look for much in the way of extreme high and low end, but this is probably as good as a film of this sort is going to sound without heavy processing. THE SWAG: 0.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity) Previews: Don’t Raise The Bridge, Lower The River (2:36) (DD2.0 mono; 1.85:1 anamorphic) Fun With Dick And Jane (1:52) (DD2.0 mono; 1.85:1 anamorphic) The Mouse That Roared (2:30) (DD2.0 mono; 1.85:1 non-anamorphic) Murderers’ Row THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 3/5 Murderers’ Row, for the most part, is more of the same. However, it’s better put together. It doesn’t suffer from the pacing issues as The Silencers, and the incidental music is less jarring. This time around, Ann-Margret tickles Matt’s fancy, and Karl Malden leads the evil security guards of the B.I.G. O. He does effect a strange accent, but thankfully, it doesn’t seem Asian. THE WAY I SEE IT: 3/5 In some ways, Murderers’ Row is slightly improved over its predecessor, but in other ways, not so much. Colors are a bit more realistic, and the picture is just a hair more detailed. On the other hand, more edge enhancement is visible, and the source print appears to have suffered some damage. From time to time, there is some flicker in the image. THE WAY I HEAR IT: 3.5/5 The DD2.0 mono track is on par with that of the first film. It gets the job done nicely. THE SWAG: 0.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity) Previews: There is a Play Previews button on the main menu that plays the trailers in sequence. They can’t be selected individually. The Ambushers (1:02) (DD2.0 mono; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2:32) (DD5.1; 1.78:1 anamorphic) Seinfeld (2:58) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) The Ambushers THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 3/5 The Ambushers is basically comparable to Murderers’ Row. The supporting players aren’t quite as well-known – they include Senta Berger as a femme fatale wearing colors that just don’t exist anymore, with Janice Rule as Helm’s agent partner, and Albert Salmi as his nemesis (it’s unclear whether his theft of a US Government UFO or his hairstyle is the greater crime against humanity). As with the other films, the plot is tertiary to the jokes and the booty. THE WAY I SEE IT: 3/5 The image is quite comparable to that of Murderer’s Row. It’s OK, but not great. THE WAY I HEAR IT: 3.5/5 The DD2.0 mono track is on par with that of the first two films. It gets the job done nicely. THE SWAG: 0.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity) Previews: There is a Play Previews button on the main menu that plays the trailers in sequence. They can’t be selected individually. Murderers’ Row (2:59) (DD2.0 mono; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2:32) (DD5.1; 1.78:1 anamorphic) Seinfeld (2:20) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) The Wrecking Crew THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: N/A/5 In the interest of getting this posted, I didn’t have time to watch The Wrecking Crew. I’ll update this review once I see it. I did sample a few scenes to get a taste of the A/V quality. THE WAY I SEE IT: 3.5/5 The Wrecking Crew looks the best of the four films. Colors are solid and realistic, but the image shows less digital artifacting than the others do, and the source print is in a little better shape. THE WAY I HEAR IT: 4/5 This is also the best-sounding of the films in the set. The DD2.0 mono audio is a little richer and has more space to it. THE SWAG: 0.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity) Previews: There is a Play Previews button on the main menu that plays the trailers in sequence. They can’t be selected individually. Murderers’ Row (2:59) (DD2.0 mono; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) The Ambushers (1:02) (DD2.0 mono; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2:32) (DD5.1; 1.78:1 anamorphic) SUMMING IT ALL UP The Silencers The Way I Feel About It: 2.5/5 The Way I See It: 2.5/5 The Way I Hear It: 3.5/5 The Swag: 0.5/5 Murderers’ Row The Way I Feel About It: 3/5 The Way I See It: 3/5 The Way I Hear It: 3.5/5 The Swag: 0.5/5 The Ambushers The Way I Feel About It: 3/5 The Way I See It: 3/5 The Way I Hear It: 3.5/5 The Swag: 0.5/5 The Wrecking Crew The Way I Feel About It: N/A The Way I See It: 3.5/5 The Way I Hear It: 4/5 The Swag: 0.5/5 Gloriously goofy, the Matt Helm Lounge makes no apologies as it steps up and demands royalty checks from Mike Myers. As an action hero, Dean Martin is about as believable as Leslie Nielsen – that’s Naked Gun Leslie Nielsen, not Forbidden Planet Leslie Nielsen. But that just adds to the fun. It’s all about the double entendres and risqué innuendo. Make no mistake – these aren’t great films by any stretch of the imagination; they’re just a good choice for a silly mood. On the plus side, this isn’t a case of one decent movie followed by a string of worthless sequels – they’re all (pending a look at the final film) pretty entertaining in their own cheeseball way. The complete lack of special features is a shame, but the A/V quality of these discs is adequate. Fans will be pleased; others may want to try before they buy.