Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


THE HELICOPTER SPIES (1968). Director: Boris Sagal.

"Never trust a woman who's always on time. It always indicates a -- much deeper -- problem."

Originally shown on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. television program as Parts 1 and 2 of "The Prince of Darkness Affair," this was turned into a theatrical feature for overseas release. While it has a few too many campy moments, basically it's an entertaining flick with Robert Vaughn in top form, as usual, as super-spy Napoleon Solo. UNCLE makes a deal with the nefarious Luther Sebastian (Bradford Dillman) to help them get a new weapon, a thermal prism, away from its mad inventor, Dr. Karmusi (John Dehner), who is holed up in a desert bunker -- which will self-destruct if his heart stops. But once Sebastian gets his hands on the device, he has no intention of turning it over to UNCLE. There's also a weird cult called The Third Way, a gang of men who all have white hair, the always-amusing Kathleen Freeman as a short order cook, and John Carradine as a guru who hasn't said a word in forty years. Carol Lynley is the feminine innocent caught up in the melodrama, Lola Albright is the bad girl, and Julie London has a nice turn as Sebastian's wife, who seems to bed a different hot guy every night. The film is well-edited and has some exciting scenes and interesting doom-traps. Dillman's performance is odd. H. M. Wynant is fun as all of the handsome Aksoy brothers. This busy actor is still working at eighty-two.

Verdict: Entertaining hokum. **1/2.

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