Aug 1, 2016

Lots of Los Angeles Sixties Spy Screenings Coming Up in August

There are a lot of very stylish Sixties spies playing on the big screen in Los Angeles this month.

First up, on August 7 and 8 (a Sunday and a Monday), Quentin Tarantino's New Beverly Cinema will screen the fourth and final Matt Helm movie, The Wrecking Crew (1968) on a Sharon Tate double fill with Roman Polanski's wonderful Hammer spoof The Fearless Vampire Killers. Besides Tate, The Wrecking Crew stars Dean Martin (The Silencers, Murderers' Row), Nancy Kwan (Wonder Women), Tina Louise (Fanfare for a Death Scene), Nigel Green (The Ipcress File, Deadlier Than the Male) and my own very favorite Sixties Spy Girl, the stunning Elke Sommer (Deadlier Than the Male, The Prize). Sure, the silly, spoofy Helm movies are very poor representations of Donald Hamilton's terrific, hard-hitting, and very serious novels, and sure, they're not very, er, good (in the conventional sense), but they are certainly entertaining! It's rare to see any of them play the revival circuit, and when one does it's usually one of the first two. I don't think I've ever seen The Wrecking Crew playing in a theater during the 16 years I've lived in L.A. The Wrecking Crew will screen in 35mm. Tickets are just $8.00 for both films, available at the box office or online.

Then, on Sunday, August 21, the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica will present a double feature of two particularly pop art spy movies, Our Man Flint and Modesty Blaise (both 1966) as part of their series "The Groovy Movies of 1966.") The first of the Derek Flint spy spoofs stars the inimitable James Coburn as the suave, know-it-all superspy, along with Lee J. Cobb, Gila Golan and Charlie Chan regular Benson Fong. But the film belongs, 100%, to Coburn. It simply wouldn't work without him, and because of him it's a must-see.

Joseph Losey's Modesty Blaise has about as much to do with Peter O'Donnell's series of novels and comic strips as the Dino Matt Helm films do with those books... and also like the Helm movies, it can't really be called good. But it's still an eye-popping miasma of glorious Sixties design excess with a wonderfully infectious score by Johnny Dankworth (The Avengers). In fact, it boasts by far the best production design of any of these three films, and would be well worth seeing on the big screen for that reason alone... except that there is another reason. And that reason is Dirk Bogarde (Hot Enough for June) as Gabriel--positively the greatest Sixties spy villain trapped in one of the decade's otherwise weaker mainstream genre entries. Bogarde is an absolute treat in this film. Every line delivery is exquisite, and surely this role ranks among the all-time great camp performances. Terrence Stamp (Chessgame), Harry Andrews (The Deadly Affair, Danger Route), Clive Revill (Fathom) and a hopelessly miscast Monica Vitti in the title role also star. These films will be shown on DCP. Tickets to the double feature (which kicks off at 7:30pm) are $11.00 for the general public and may be purchased online or at the theater box office.

L.A. spy fans, don't miss the rare opportunity to see any of these campy Sixties spy spoofs on the big screen!

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