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Perhaps the Matt Helm movies arenít the greatest spy spoofs in the history of the cinema, but the swinging sixties trappings and the laid back comic style of Dean Martin make them a whole lot of fun. Having sat down with THE SILENCERS ($25) recently, one can definitely see some of the influences that have carried through into Mike Meyersí enormously popular Austin Powers movies. In fact, it would appear that Meyers incorporated a few aspects of Matt Helm into his portrayal of Austin Powers, in addition to those things he lifted from the James Bond and Derek Flint series. Now, as someone who really likes the Matt Helm movies, I can only hope that Columbia will carry through and release MURDERERS' ROW, THE AMBUSHERS and THE WRECKING CREW on DVD as well.

Based upon the novels by Donald Hamilton, THE SILENCERS finds former secret agent, turned fashion photographer, Matt Helm (Dean Martin) being cajoled out of retirement in an effort to stop the filmís resident megalomaniac, Tung-Tze (Victor Buono) from hijacking a missile and its nuclear payload. Much of THE SILENCERS has been contoured to Dean Martinís style, including a few brief musical interludes that feature a whole lot of female eye candy. Also ramping up the filmís female sex appeal quotient are the beauteous Daliah Lavi, Cyd Charisse and Stella Stevens (who provides a delightful comic performance). The cast of THE SILENCERS also features Arthur O'Connell, James Gregory, Robert Webber, Nancy Kovack and Roger C. Carmel.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made THE SILENCERS available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. For a film encroaching on its fortieth anniversary, THE SILENCERS looks pretty darn good. The image is fairly sharp and provides more than respectable definition. Colors are reasonably vibrant and are rendered in a without any problems. Blacks appear accurate, whites are stable and shadow detail is decent. The film element does show some signs of age, with minor blemishes and some grain being the worst offenses. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack gets the job done nicely- and is free from excessive noise and distortion. Fidelity is relatively good for a mid-1960s production, with the musical numbers sounding rather pleasant. Additionally, dialogue is always crisp and clean. No other language tracks are provided on the DVD, although English and French subtitles are present. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as trailers for DON'T RAISE THE BRIDGE, LOWER THE RIVER, THE MOUSE THAT ROARED, FUN WITH DICK AND JANE.

As someone who likes the Matt Helm movies, I am glad that Columbia has begun to issue them on DVD. If you are a fan, you canít go wrong with this release. To repeat what I said above, hopefully MURDERERS' ROW, THE AMBUSHERS and THE WRECKING CREW will be making their debuts sometime soon.



Matt Helm - The Silencers (1966)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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