Electra One/Con La Muerte A La Espalda (1967)

Electra One (1967)‘I’m getting used to you and your briefcase.’

A supervillain demonstrates his new mind control drug by making an officer go mad on an army base and almost launch its nuclear missiles. An antidote does exist, but the Professor who created it is killed, and the only samples in existence are in a briefcase carried by his beautiful assistant…

Tired and flat Eurospy outing with this week’s ‘Bond On A Budget’ being George Martin, a Spanish actor whose real name was Francisco Martinez Celeiro. But it’s not quite a business as usual. He’s not a super-slick secret agent in a tuxedo, but a super-slick international jewel thief in a tuxedo instead. You won’t be surprised to learn that it doesn’t make a lot of difference.

After the inventor of the antidote (Georges Chamarat) is shot dead by Electra One’s minions at the jewellery showing where he’s meeting the U.S. authorities, his assistant is rescued by Martin who is luckily attempting a heist at the same time. Yes, it does seem a strange venue for a hand over of something that may save the free world, but then neither the Amercians or the Russian Intelligence Services seem overblessed with that quality in this film. Anyway, our felonious hero rescues the Prof’s pretty assistant (Vivi Bach) along with the briefcase and the two go on the run together. And, boy, do they run! All over the port of Hamburg! But that’s about it as far as story development goes, and the endless series of cross and double cross can do little to hide it.

Electra One (1967)

‘Look at my chest again, and I’ll squeeze even harder…’

There really isn’t a lot to get excited about in this Spanish-French-Italian co-production. Martin is handsome but forgettable and the scenes between him and Bach have little chemistry. Gadgets? Well, he’s not a secret agent so he doesn’t have any, but then neither does anyone else. Guns? There are a few being waved about, but Martin only picks one up in the last 20 minutes of the movie, just before the cable car climax and no, it’s not much like the one in ‘Moonraker’ (1979), being somewhat less ambitious.

Girls? Apart from Bach, there’s the gorgeous Rosalba Neri, but, despite her obvious star quality, she’s totally wasted in the role of the villain’s main killer, the humdrum script providing her with nothing on which to base a performance. There’s an attempt at satire with the Russian and American agents trying to outwit each other, but this subplot is repeatedly ditched in favour of another chase scene before it can develop into anything significant.

Director Alfonso Balázar teamed up with Martin again for ‘Clint el Solitario’ (1967), a Spaghetti Western that also starred Marianne Koch, who’d been the female lead of a little picture called ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ (1964), which also had a ‘Clint’ connection. Bach went on to marry and join her husband in presenting a TV game show before retiring from the screen entirely, due to chronic stage fright.

Dull and anonymous spy romp enlivened by some mildly entertaining stunt driving, but not by the bland, throwaway dialogue scenes in between.


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