Operacion 67/Operation 67 (1967)

Operacion 67 (1967)‘As the chief of our organisation, I would like to say that our plan for world domination will proceed.’

After duplicating U.S. currency plates whilst in transit, a secret organisation plans to wreck the world economy by flooding the market with millions of new bills. A team of two top secret agents are assigned the task of foiling the scheme and taking down the villainous group once and for all…

So, who is this week’s ‘Bond On A Budget’ running around the glamorous capitals of continental Europe, tangling with guns, girls and gadgets? Why it’s our old friend, the silver-masked Mexican wrestler El Santo! Only his travel itinerary is limited to Hong Kong, the gadgets are just exploding wrist-watches and the babe action is mostly left to Jorge Rivero. Yes, our silver-masked hero has a partner, and it’s clear that he’s no sidekick, the two being equals throughout. This means that Rivero gets as much solo screen time, something which probably didn’t sit too well with fans of the great man.

Our two heroes are the best Interpol has to offer but, as the film opens, they’re just catching some rays on the sun terrace with their respective girlfriends. El Santo keeps his mask on throughout, of course, which I guess saves on sunscreen, but probably wasn’t all that comfortable. An emergency call comes in, the babes exit stage right never to be seen again, and a hip 60’s soundtrack blasts into action (just dig those cool horns, man!)

Operacion 67 (1967)

‘Don’t worry, Annette will never recognise me like this.’

In charge of the organisation’s dastardly plot is Elizabeth Campbell, keeping her minions in line via the medium of the afore-mentioned exploding timepieces. These are somehow ‘welded’ to her agents and can’t be removed (unless its convenient for the plot). In the closing stages, she sets out to seduce Rivero and falls in love with him! This development really looks as if it’s been tacked on at the last minute, maybe so more glamour shots could be included in the film’s trailer.

As per usual in these kinds of shenanigans, the villains target our heroes right from the get-go (even before they’ve been briefed on their mission) and their frequent efforts at assassination provide the clues required to break the case. After all, Santo and Rivero weren’t getting anywhere on their own. Their brilliant investigative strategy revolves around the inevitability that two of the gang will put their funny money into circulation by betting on major sporting events; specifically, the tag-team bout in which they are taking part! I have to acknowledge that this is an original plot development, if just a tad implausible.

Operacion 67 (1967)

‘You and whose army?’

Unusually for a Santo film, there’s full frontal nudity (a dancer doing a ‘geisha girl’ routine in a nightclub) and seemingly a more substantial budget than usual. Father and son directing team Rene Cardona and Rene Cardona Jr even throw in a vague homage to Hitchcock’s ‘North By Northwest’ featuring Rivero in a car, that comes with a handy bazooka.

Rivero’s handsome looks, good physique and an easy screen personality eventually landed him a plumb role opposite John Wayne in Howard Hawks’ ‘Rio Lobo’ (1970). Later, he co-starred with Charlton Heston and James Coburn in ‘The Last Hard Men’ (1976), but his star faded quickly, and, by the start of the next decade, he was top-lining Lucio Fulci’s dreary sword and sorcery adventure ‘Conquest’ (1983). Although American by birth, Campbell acted almost exclusively in Mexican cinema, finding national recognition for her role as the Golden Rubi, one of the ‘Wrestling Women’ in the popular series that also starred Lorena Velásquez. After a series of other leading roles in films of the 1960s, including ‘The Chinese Room’ (1968) for Albert Zugsmith and Mexican ‘Eurospy’ film ‘Peligro…! Mujeres en Acción’ (Danger Girls) (1969), she left the country to pursue her career in New York and dropped off the radar completely.

This is one of El Santo’s more technically accomplished and well-presented features, although it does suffer from a very poor, small-scale climax. But, for all that, it’s more engaging that some of his other efforts at the spying game.

El Santo and Rivero were paired again in direct sequel ‘El Tesoro De Moctezuma’/The Treasure of Montezuma’ (1968).

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