A secret agent who has problems keeping his mind on the job chases down a vital roll of microfilm, only to find it contains no information, just musical notes. As he struggles to decode the message by listening to various lounge singers, a sinister villain targets the United Nations on behalf of an aggressive foreign power.
Italian EuroSpy parody that finds Lando Buzzanca as this week’s ‘Tont On A Budget’, running around the glamorous capital cities of the world at a pace to make even the most enthusiastic film editor’s head spin. Along the way he tangles with the obligatory elements of guns, gadgets and girls, but mostly girls. He also encounters a talking mouse.
Opening with a song that should get every copyright lawyer in the world reaching for a lawsuit, it’s clear from the get-go that we’re in very broad comedy territory. Buzzanca is the cleverly named Agent 007 and a half, who is in trouble with his controller because he’s more interested in getting his hands on the fairer sex than on that missing microfilm. Turning into a surgeon to perform the necessary operation to retrieve his prize from the body of an enemy agent(!), Buzzanca finds the message coded in musical notes, and has to spend a lot of time hanging around nightclubs and listening to horrible songs to decode it. As this tends to involve one gorgeous euro-babe after another, it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make.
It involves a bewildering travelling schedule too; taking in Las Vegas, Miami, Hong Kong, and several major cities, although l am unconvinced the production visited many of them (or even more than one!) ln other developments, Buzzanca flirts shamelessly with Miss Lollypop back at HQ, eye drops and sunglasses give him x-ray vision, and at one point his body ends up covered in gold paint, a bit like actress Shirley Eaton in some other, slightly better known film whose title escapes me at the moment. Our villains are Goldsinger (Loris Gizzi) and his bowler-hatted henchman Kayo (George Wang) and, as well as the title song, more of the musical soundtrack flirts cheerfully with dire legal consequences.
As you may have gathered, none of this to be taken remotely seriously, but the film aims for a wacky sensibility that it never really delivers, instead settling for boring, predictable jokes and half-assed physical gags. So, rather than knowingly winking at the audience with a sly grin, instead it chooses to hit them constantly over the head with one heavy blunt object after another.
On the plus side, there is a high speed car chase with some excellent stunt driving. It’s rather a good sequence, but seems to have wandered in from another movie entirely. Interestingly enough, Buzzanca’s little Fiat does turn into a submarine at one point, predating a certain Lotus driven by Roger Moore in some other spy movie I vaguely remember that was made a dozen years later. His car also boasts a telephone and a TV, although this does seem to be stuck on a channel that shows endless rejected entries for the Eurovision Song Contest.
The directors here were Bruno Corbucci (brother of the more successful Sergio) and Giovanni Grimaldi. Both had long careers in Italian cinema, almost exclusively in comedy (which is a bit hard to believe!), although Grimaldi also penned thriller ‘Web of the Spider’ (1971). Lovely co-star Evi Marandi also appeared in the much better EuroSpy ‘From The Orient With Fury’ (1965), as well as Mario Bava’s ‘Planet of the Vampires’ (1965) and bargain-basement doodle ‘Goldface, The Amazing Superman’ (1967). Here, she continually resists Buzzanca’s oily charms, but can she hold out until the final credits? I think you already know the answer to that one.
Comedy sometimes doesn’t cross national boundaries, and this would seem to be a prime example of that. It was successful enough domestically to get a swift sequel.