Release Date: February 18th, 1966
Directed by: Phil Karlson
Written by: Oscar Saul
Based on: The Silencers and Death of a Citizen by Donald Hamilton
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Cast: Dean Martin, Stella Stevens, Daliah Lavi, Victor Buono, Roger C. Carmel
Columbia Pictures, 102 Minutes
I didn’t even know about this film until recently, when I discovered it on a list of recommended movies on a tikiphile message board. I also discovered, after watching it, that there are two sequels.
The Silencers is a damn fun movie! It stars Dean Martin as a playful James Bond wannabe. In fact, the film is a parody of James Bond movies and the popular spy genre of the time. Truthfully, it is better than some of the films it parodies and as hammy as Martin was, he still didn’t cross the line like Roger Moore. I really love Roger Moore, by the way.
I guess this movie can be best described as sort of the Austin Powers of the 1960s. It also is a part of a trilogy like those Powers films. The thing is, this is much better than any Austin Powers or Mike Myers movie could ever dream to be. It isn’t gratuitously stupid and it has stood the test of time better. It is a more authentic feeling parody. Although, coming out in the same era as those films, probably has a lot to do with it feeling more true to the vibe and style of the spy genre.
Dean Martin is great as super spy Matt Helm. He has a sense of humor and a wit that few can match. I guess this is why he was so successful at hosting those celebrity roasts in the old days. In fact, there is a great moment in this film where he casually roasts his best buddy Frank Sinatra.
Martin has two leading ladies, because which super spy doesn’t have at least two? Both did really well with the material. I thought the performance by Stella Stevens was a step above Daliah Lavi but they both put in solid performances.
Being a fan of the 1966 Batman television series, I was really excited to see Victor Buono (who played the villain King Tut on that show) as the sinister Tung-Tze. We also got Roger C. Carmel (who played the villain Colonel Gumm in Batman and Harry Mudd on the original Star Trek) as a top ranking henchman.
The Silencers literally had me laughing out loud several times. Dean Martin was suave and hilarious throughout the entire picture. Few men have ever matched his swagger and those that did were already in the Rat Pack.