May 18, 2010

New Spy DVDs Out This Week


At long last, the release date has finally arrived for the Code Red Superargo DVD we first heard about last June. This 1968 film is one of those Eurospy/Superhero hybrids I like to call "costumed adventurer" movies.  It's actually the second Superargo movie, following 1966's Superargo vs. Diabolikus (not on DVD), and alternately known as Superargo vs. the Faceless Giants, Superargo vs. Giant Robots and The Invincible Superman among many, many other titles.  From those names, you would think that perhaps Superargo fights giant robots, possibly faceless ones.  The reality of it is a costumed adventurer versus large-ish men (some of whom are actually a good deal smaller than said adventurer) dressed as robots (sort of) and wearing stockings over their faces. Then again, that's exactly the sort of thing I want to see! Superargo stars Giovanni Cianfriglia, Guy Madison and Diana Lorys.  Code Red's "Exploitation Cinema" double feature incongrously pairs the film with a 1972 John Astin comedy called Wacky Taxi.  The original announcement mentioned that a comedy troup called Cinema Head Cheese would provide an MST3K-style commentary track, but I'm not sure if that actually ended up happening or not–and I can't imagine there are too many Eurospy fans who care one way or the other, as long as they get to watch the film unmolested, which they do. The Wacky Taxi/Superargo DVD retails for $14.98. Read my coverage of other Costumed Adventurer movies from this era here.

Greatest American Hero

Speaking of costumed adventurers, today also sees the budget re-release of The Greatest American Hero, an early Eighties satirical superhero show co-starring I Spy's Robert Culp.  I've never seen a single episode of it, and didn't even realize that Culp played a government agent when I wrote his obituary, but many regard this series fondly and I'm keen to finally check it out.  I can certainly afford to, since Mill Creek's new release of Season One is just $6.99 on Amazon.  The company is offering both Season One and The Complete Series on the same day, both priced to move.  You can get all three seasons together for the low retail price of just $29.98 ($26.99 on Amazon, or $18.35 on Deep Discount). Bear in mind, though, that these Mill Creek releases do not appear to contain any of the extras found on Anchor Bay's previous (costlier) release of the show.

The Spy Next Door

Next up, we have The Spy Next Door on DVD andDVD/Blu-ray combo from Lionsgate.  Jackie Chan plays a spy. Next door. Who babysits some kids. And they smack people with pots and pans. Maybe it's fun.

The Sentimental Agent

Finally, on the other side of the pond this week we have the DVD debut of The Sentimental Agent on a Region 2 PAL set from the UK's leading distributor of spy shows and ITC shows, Network.  Surprisingly (for the Sixties, anyway), the titular agent (Carlos Varela, played by Carlos Thompson) is not, in fact, a spy, but an import/export agent.  Go figure!  This being an ITC series, however, he's an import/export agent who frequently finds himself embroiled in espionage nonetheless.  One of the primary ITC templates of the time was to follow a man with an ordinary yet glamorous profession (such as Man of the World's photojournalist, or The Baron's antiques dealer) and plunge him into dangerous exploits in exotic locales week after week. Varela's importing and exporting gets him mixed up with spies trying to cross borders, spies stealing spaceflight secrets and spies posing as jazz musicians, as well as all manner of assassins, international criminals and generally disreputable miscreants. The series is perhaps most notable (to Avengers fans, anyway) for featuring a young Diana Rigg, in her screen–and spy–debut. It was also her first time speaking lines written by Brian Clemens, one of the primary creative forces behind the Rigg era of The Avengers.

The Sentimental Agent: The Complete Series includes all 13 black and white episodes and several extras: “With This Face,” a brand new interview the legendary Burt Kwouk (Goldfinger, the Pink Panther films), episode stills galleries and PDFs of original promotional material. The company has posted a preview of the Kwouk interview on YouTube (in which he discusses all of his ITC work), and it looks good.  The 4-disc set runs £39.99, but is currently just £33.99 on Network's website. It's a web exclusive, so that's the only way to get it. Watch the clip below to see Varela behaving more like a secret agent than an import/export agent, wearing a tuxedo and driving around in a beautiful Aston Martin DB5.

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