Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm (the suave Dean Martin) dies after things get a little too hot in bed in Murderer's Row, the second Matt Helm movie now available in the 4-DVD Mat Helm box set from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Murderer's Row also features Ann-Margret as the buxom lass who wears skimpy outfits and Karl Malden as the evil leader of Big O the nefarious organization out to conquer the world.
This fun, tongue-in-cheek James Bond in an alcoholic daze spy comedy is great fun to watch. Matt Helm may be as good with the ladies as 007 but he certainly seems to have more fun and drinks. In Murderer's Row the late Helm goes to the Cote d'Azur to find Solaris, an American scientist who invented a death ray and is now prisoner of Big O and "don't leave home without a weird fake on and off European thick accent" Karl Malden in the role of Julian Wall.
The main reason the Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm movies are so fun to watch is how they insist on spoofing all the spy thrillers of the period and their passion for gadgets, babes, and weird evil dudes. This time, the evil dude has a black metal plate on his chrome dome, Helm's boss talks to him from the bottom of a Ballantine's bottle "This way I know you will get your instructions." and the babe in question is go-go dancing Ann-Margret who happens to be the American scientist's daughter. The spoof is obvious when, like a few other Bond movies, Murderer's Row opens with other agents being knocked off -although the French agent deserved it just because of the way he dances in a discotheque.
Murderer's Row also has a lot of funny lines like, "There's a whole new breed of scientists today. They smoke, drink, swear, play around but they won't answer one simple question. How do you destroy Washington D.C.?" Of course, no Matt Helm Dean Martin movie would be complete without a dig at Frank Sinatra and Helm's uncanny ability to turn on the radio just when a Dean Martin song is playing.
This spy thriller comedy is not perfect. The scenes at the discotheque run a little long, especially the one with Ann-Margret in a weird daisy dress and the many psychedelic camera tricks and you do not really buy Karl Marlden and his female associate Coco as heavies. Still, Murderer's Row, the second movie in the Matt Helm Lounge 4-DVD box set is great fun to watch although it is not a classic of the genre.
Be on the lookout for Dean Paul Martin (Dean Martin's son) as the musician who calls everybody, including Matt Helm "Daddy" as well as Desi Arnaz jr. and Bill Hinsche as the boy band at the discotheque.