Monday, July 09, 2007

Excellent Matt Helm article

Ed here: Even though I'm no fan of Dean Martin or the Matt Hem movies, Mathhew Bradley, one of the best of all writers on popular cuture, manages to make both subjects a lot more interesting than they deserve to be in his long piece now availavble on Cinema Retro.

Matthew Bradley:

When JFK revealed his fondness for the James Bond books by Ian Fleming, and 007—ably embodied by Sean Connery—struck box-office gold with Dr. No (1962) and its sequels, the resultant “Bondmania” set off a spy craze manifested in everything from atmospheric adaptations of Len Deighton and John le CarrĂ© to tongue-in-cheek secret agents on screens small and large. Perhaps the most successful of the latter was Matt Helm, a singing and swinging spy played in four films for Columbia Pictures by Rat Pack member Dean Martin, who unlike Connery shared in the profits from the outset via his own company, Meadway-Claude Productions. The former partner of Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli - Irving Allen - was playing catch-up after deeming Fleming’s work unworthy of filming, which speeded his breakup with Broccoli. But ironically, his quartet of quintessential spy spoofs was actually based on a series of gritty Gold Medal paperback originals by Donald Hamilton that had been launched by Fawcett before Kennedy was even in office, or Connery started shaking his martinis.

For the rest go here: http://www.cinemaretro.com/index.phple

2 comments:

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I just finished a Donald Hamilton western and the writing raised it far above the standard range war story this might have been in lesser hands.

Fred Blosser said...

The movies were over in about four years, while the books continued for another 25 years, so I don't think Dino did Matt much harm during Hamilton's lifetime. But I suspect the general public, now, remembers the movies more than the books, so that it would be difficult to get a dead-serious version made.