12/20/06

508 Operation Double 007

(1967, Action-Spies, color)

Terrorists were more fun back then.

Rating: ***


In a nutshell:

The brother of England’s top agent foils a variety of incomprehensible plots.

Summary:

Neil considers M's proposal--on the one hand, he does not like to get involved in international politics.  On the other hand, he quite enjoys sleeping with large numbers of beautiful women.A cornucopia of peripheral James Bond characters populate this film.

A luxurious yacht sails into the harbor at Monte Carlo, piloted by the lovely Maya (Daniela Bianchi, a.k.a. the blonde from From Russia with Love) and her crew of scantily clad sailor henchgirls. In the captain’s quarters, a thick, evil man named Beta (Adolfo Celi, a.k.a. the villain from Thunderball (and Diabolik, while we’re on the subject)) gets a sexy massage while watching suggestive movies projected onto a naked girl’s back. He takes a break from his debauchery for long enough to light a cigar and drive a large remote control car into a light plane while it lands. The pilot dies while a horrified Agent Maxwell (Lois Maxwell, a.k.a. Miss Moneypenny) looks on. While she’s distracted, another evil beauty dressed in a high fashion caveman outfit steals the pilot’s secret lunchbox.

Meanwhile, world-renowned plastic surgeon/hypnotist/championship archer Dr. Neil Connery (played, oddly enough, by Sean Connery’s younger brother Neil) just happens to be in town to show off a burn victim (a young Japanese girl with an inexplicable Slavic accent) that he has restored to beauty. Unfortunately, sexy hoodlums of both genders break up his demonstration to kidnap his subject, so the police hold him in Monte Carlo for questioning.

He’s soon visited by Agent Maxwell and her superior, Commander Cunningham (Bernard Lee, a.k.a. M) who confide that he is the brother of their top agent, but decline to mention any trademark-violating names. It turns out that Neil knew the dead pilot from the opening scenes, who somehow hypnotized the Japanese girl with top-secret information about the evil terrorist organization, Thanatos.

In a confusing sequence, the girl is recaptured by British agents, and then quickly lost again to killer nuns, who wrap her up in a sheet and send her down a zip line into a waiting ambulance. Neil, Cunningham, and Maxwell track them to Spain where they find a look-a-like with a knife in her back for no apparent reason. Neil hypnotizes the sexy and incredibly clumsy evil surveillance lady and finds out the girl’s real location.

Teams of British agents dress up in country overalls and use Neil’s expert bowmanship to storm a vineyard to rescue the girl. Neil quickly hypnotises her to retrieve the top-secret information, but the girl gets shot to death before she can deliver the whole message. What he does manage to discover is fairly useless. By the time they’re wise to Thanatos’ plan to steal an atomic nucleus (whatever that is), Maya and her band of showgirl bird-skunks have hijacked a convoy of easily aroused soldiers and taken off with the radioactive [ahem] booty.

I think some scenes were cut here, because the next thing we know, Neil is at a party with the evil and overdressed Beta, who attempts to hire him to make one of his sexy male minions look like the evil overlord of Thanatos. Neil (who also reads lips) finds out that Beta means to take control of Thanatos for himself, and blow up his yacht full of girls to cover his tracks. Neil warns Maya, who quickly change sides.

Meanwhile, the radioactive material is being woven into rugs by blind men in an undefined Middle-Eastern country. Neil poses as a blind man to get into the factory and warns the workers, who stampede. Beta comes down to see what’s the matter and easily sees through Neil’s stupid disguise.

Soon Neil is on board the girl yacht, forced to operate on Beta’s minion. Rather than using conventional anesthetic, Neil’s plastic surgery technique requires him to use hypnotism to put his patients under. This time, instead of putting the minion to sleep, he tells him to kill his boss. Soon it’s Neil and the deadly ladies against Beta and his male thugs. The men are quickly defeated and thrown overboard, while Beta pulls a motorboat out of his entertainment center and escapes.

Neil and Maya track him to Munich, where he will steal the world’s gold reserves by using some kind of magnetic weapon that not only stops electronics, but guns and clocks as well. They find the underground base, and Maya goes back for reinforcements while Neil is captured. Unable to reach British Intelligence in time, Maya rounds up all of Neil’s archer buddies, who gleefully take on Beta’s red leather-clad harpoon henchman. Neil kills Beta in a longbow shootout, and then blows up the installation with an anti-magnetic bomb.

Later, Cunningham tries to recruit Neil for the British Secret Service, but is quickly hypnotized out of the idea. Neil boards Maya’s girl yacht and sails off into the sunset.

Introduction:

Joel Robinson's girl yacht.Joel has transferred his home movies to videotape and shows them to the ‘Bots while eating popcorn out of Tom’s head. Crow is horrified by the display of childhood piano recitals and swing choir rehearsals, but Tom really gets into it.

Host Segment One:

Crow has “accidentally” erased all of Joel’s tapes—even the backups. Down in Deep 13, Frank has invented sprinkler overalls that he calls his Lederhosen-hosen. He bursts into tears at the lameness of it. Up on the SOL, Crow has invented Sarah the Bobbin’ Buzzard, which cleans up road kill and table scraps. He sings the theme song to the tune of “Rockin’ Robin.” Down in Deep 13, Dr. Forrester throttles Frank, who is attempting to blow an alpine horn.

Host Segment Two:

Joel forces the ‘Bots to dress in revealing sailor outfits and demands a massage while he chomps his cigar. They remind him that none of them have working arms. Quoth Joel, “I know.” They demand an explanation for his ridiculous behavior, to which Joel villainously replies, “I know.”

Host Segment Three:

Joel and the ‘Bots have drawn a chart to compare the parallel lives of Sean and Neil Connery. They postulate that while Sean can call anyone in Hollywood and be put through immediately, Neil cannot call Pizza Hut because of too many bounced checks. In fact, the only time Sean’s line dips below Neil’s is during the making and release of Highlander 2: The Quickening.

Host Segment Four:

Joel tries to hypnotize Tom, but is interrupted by TV’s Frank, who wants to play them a polka on his accordion. Frank is, in turn, interrupted by Torgo, newly returned from his trip to the car to get their drinks. (This concludes his pizza delivery in Episode 424.) Frank wants to send him back out to get him some Diet Squirt instead, but Dr. Forrester talks him into accepting the Mr. Pibb to get rid of Torgo. On the way out, Torgo asks to use the restroom.

Host Segment Five:

Dr. Forrester has magnetized the Satellite of Love, sticking Tom and Crow to the side of the ship. Telecommunications satellites leave their orbits to stick to the outer hull as well. TV’s Frank tries to play another polka, but is quickly throttled by Dr. Forrester. After the credits start rolling, we hear a flush, and Torgo says “thank you.” Torgo’s distinctive and repetitive theme music plays relentlessly over the rest of the credits.

Stinger:

The ridiculously clad Beta dramatically pushes a button.

Thoughts:

Adolpho Celi's girl yacht.I actually liked Operation Double 007, not because it makes sense (it doesn’t) or because the acting is good (it isn’t) or because it was action-packed (it is, but the fight sequences are badly edited, so it’s always difficult to tell who’s fighting whom), but because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Sure, it’s utterly ridiculous, even by spy movie standards, but doesn’t bother to pretend that it’s anything but ridiculous. The evil mastermind is like a grown-up Willy Wonka, in that he immerses himself in the gaudy and ludicrous while refusing to explain anything to anyone. (By that analogy, I suppose his girls would qualify as Oompa Loompas.) Speaking of which, Beta doesn’t just have his requisite easily subverted arm candy. He’s got a whole ship full of arm candy ready to dress like sailors, farm girls, or sexy skunks at the drop of a hat, who will quickly turn on him at the first sign of betrayal. He has, not just one evil plot, but three (I think) happening all at once, each one stupider than the last. Did Beta ever manage to take over Thanatos? Who knows? He got distracted by his other plan to shut down the world’s power. Or was it to weave radioactive carpets? And didn’t he try to steal the world’s gold supply somewhere in there? I bet the Japanese girl could have cleared this all up. No wonder she had to die.

Also, Neil Connery has all the self-possessed charm of his brother, without his brother’s rugged physique or distinctive brogue. With his sinister goatee, he probably would have made a better Bond villain than a hero. I’d pay money to see a movie pitting Sean Connery’s Bond against his evil hypnotic brother.

The host segments all work well. Frank’s obsession with German folk dress is weird and goofy, while Joel’s supervillain impression is much funnier than I can make it sound in the summary. You need to have seen Manos: The Hands of Fate to understand Torgo’s role in the fourth and fifth host segments. It doesn’t make much sense in the context of the film, but those segments successfully complete a sketch that began in the last host segment eight episodes ago.

Sibling jokes abound in the film segments, best represented by Tom’s revision of a line from Temple of Doom—“Prepare to meet Cali’s brother, near Hell.” The movie’s self-awareness is manifested when Maya tells Neil that he’s been “reading too much Fleming,” to which Crow responds, “Jerry Fleming—Ian’s brother.” When a long line of blind people join hands and go to weave radioactive rugs, Joel says, “It’s the blind, leading the blind, leading the blind, leading the blind…” Of course the film is utterly wretched, but it’s so enthusiastic in its wretchedness that it would be entertaining to watch even without the commentary.