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  Danger!! Death Ray Y'know, one of those peaceful death rays.  For kids.  Buy this film here.
Year: 1967
Director: Gianfranco Baldanello
Stars: Gordon Scott, Delfi Mauro, Nello Pazzafini, Alberto Dalbés, Silvia Solar, Massimo Righi, Tullio Altamura, Rossella Bergamonti, Carlos Hurtado, Tina Di Pietro, Fernando Rubio, Julio St. Cruz, Valentino Macchi, Giulio Maculani
Genre: Action, Thriller, Science Fiction
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Genius scientist Professor John Carmichael (Tullio Altamura) invents a death ray for what he insists are "peaceful purposes" (Eh? How do you figure that, Prof?) However, while demonstrating his ray for a group of NATO officials Carmichael is kidnapped by enemy agents. Agent Bart Fargo (Gordon Scott) is forced to abandon his vacation plans and fly to Barcelona on a mission to recover the missing scientist. There Fargo unearths a network of spies spearheaded by the dastardly Frank (Nello Pazzafini) and his associate Scarface (Carlos Hurtado) who are working for a mysterious mastermind.

Part of the Eurospy craze that exploded in the wake of James Bond, the Italian-Spanish produced Danger!! Death Ray (also known as Nest of Spies) had its moment of infamy when satirized in an episode of the snarky but popular comedy show Mystery Science Theatre 3000. While the MS3TK crew sneered at its chintzy production values, Sixties spy film fans will find much to enjoy not least some visceral action sequences, endearing miniature effects, a catchy bossa nova score by Gianni Ferrio and plenty of period charm. It also has an impressively athletic lead in Gordon Scott. After a five-film stint as one of the best screen Tarzans (notably in Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (1959) opposite a villainous Sean Connery!) Scott relocated to Italy for a run of sword and sandal pictures including Riccardo Freda's Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World (1961) and Goliath and the Vampires (1962) co-directed by spaghetti western veteran Sergio Corbucci. He ended his career with a pair of Eurospy outings: Danger!! Death Ray and the superior Top Secret (1967).

Stilted in parts with uneven pacing despite solid direction by Gianfranco Baldanello, Danger!! Death Ray meanders goodnaturedly from action sequence to action sequence, engaging enough for Eurospy fans but inconsequential. As so often with Eurospy films, Danger!! Death Ray steals most of its ideas from Thunderball (1965) but finds room for a few quirky details. Scott's brawny hero tears through henchmen by the dozen and convincingly shrugs off blows that would fell lesser men. Yet Bart Fargo is a curiously reticent super-spy. First seen grumbling about low wages and losing his holiday time he seems to resent his job. He also seems to be in a serious relationship with his Moneypenny-like secretary (Rossella Bergamonti), arousing the jealousy of his superior Señor Raymond (Julio St. Cruz). Of course that does not stop Bart from bedding a mysterious femme fatale (Silvia Solar) nor sexy artist Lucille (Delfi Mauro, billed as Maureen Delphy) who paints nudes in the nude. In fact the fade-out finds Bart callously casting his girlfriend aside for a fresh fling.

The most interesting relationship in the movie is the oddly compassionate one Bart Fargo develops with Al (Massimo Righi), a neurotic henchman whose life he spares. Earning himself an ally, Bart brings Al along on his one-man siege of the villain's fortified hideout, a bullet-riddled set-piece that racks up a body-count worthy of John Woo.



Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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