• Silencers, The

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: March 1st, 2017.
    Director: Phil Karlson
    Cast: Cyd Charisse, Dean Martin, Stella Stevens, Victor Buono
    Year: 1966

    The Movie:

    The first in the series of Matt Helm films adapted from Donald Hamilton’s series of novels, 1966’s The Silencers tells the story of ultra-hip secret agent Helm (Dean Martin) who spends his free time living in the lap of luxury surrounded by a bevy of bodacious and buxom beauties. He’s the king of cool, the sultan of suave and he clearly knows a thing or two about living the good life.

    Matt’s life gets rocked with his ex-girlfriend, Tina Batori (Daliah Lavi) brings him back to the job that he’s basically left behind. Why? A terrorist group known as The Big-O, led by the sinister Tung-Tze (Victor Buono), have a plan to redirect a nuclear missile test and spread toxic radiation across the southwestern United States. This, Tung-Tze believes, will cause the United States to start a nuclear war with the U.S.S.R. and allow The Big-O to exert their sinister influence across the unsuspecting globe. Or something like that. It’s a bit of a mess, really.

    Regardless of the details, Helm soon finds himself back on the job and along for the ride is his new partner, Gail Hendricks (Stella Stevens), who proves that beauty and brains aren’t always handed out in equal doses.

    This was clearly made fast and cheap to cash in on both the success of Dean Martin’s television show and the four James Bond films that had stuck box office gold in the five years before this picture was made. The movie isn’t particularly original nor is it particularly good, but if you’re a Dean Martin fan it makes for passable entertainment even if at times he’s clearly sleepwalking through the picture. And honestly, you can’t blame him. His character is portrayed as the coolest cat to ever walk the Earth… but he drives a paneled station wagon and wears tacky suits. His dialogue is hackneyed to the nth degree and while he’s given a few fun gadgets to work with, it all comes across as a cheap knockoff of Ian Fleming’s far more famous creation. There are a few decent gags and a couple of good lines, but generally not much about this one stands out save for the casting or Martin in the lead and even then, he’s been much better in both more serious and more comedic roles than he is in this picture.

    It’s fun to see Daliah Lavi of the Whip And The Body appear here, before she’d go onto star in the better known Bond spoof Casino Royale in 1967. She and the beautiful Stella Stevens, probably best known for appearing alongside Martin’s former comedy cohort Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor, have a bit of a rivalry in the film. Each of these lovely ladies vies for Helm’s affections, but for all Martin’s natural charm, he doesn’t really have much chemistry with either one of the female leads.

    Martin’s a good casting choice to play this type of character. He has a lot of charm and great comedic timing. He’s got a cool voice and he looks very much in his element surrounded by beautiful women with a cocktail in hand. His charisma, even when phoned in like it is here, is really the best thing that this picture has going for it. It’s enough to make it worth watching for fans, but not enough to make it one that you’ll likely ever go back to.


    Umbrella Entertainment releases The Silencers is a clean and colorful 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks pretty good. Some mild compression artifacts show up now and then but other than that the movie looks fine. Skin tones are decent, black levels are solid and detail is about what you’d hope for out of a standard definition transfer.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. Quality of the track is fine. Dialogue is clean, clear and nicely balanced and the score and effects come through nicely. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion to note. It’s not a fancy track, but it gets the job done without any issues.

    There are no extras on this release at all, not even a menu.

    The Final Word:

    The Silencers is pretty mediocre stuff, made watchable by Dean Martin’s natural charisma and a few noteworthy supporting players. Umbrella Entertainment’s DVD release is barebones, but it does look and sound quite nice. This is hardly the best of the sixties spy film boom, not by a long shot, but neither is it the worst. Strictly middle of the road stuff, really.