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  Out of Sight Spy-jinks a-go-go!
Year: 1966
Director: Lennie Weinrib
Stars: Jonathan Daly, Karen Jensen, Robert Pine, Carolyne Barry, Wende Wagner, Maggie Thrett, Deanna Lund, Rena Horten, Billy Curtis, John Lawrence, Jimmy Murphy, Norman Grabowski, Forrest Lewis, Mike Arturi, The Astronauts
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Trash, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Twisting on the beach to the far-out and groovy sounds of Gary Lewis & The Playboys, teen bikini babe Sandra Carter (Karen Jensen) overhears fez-wearing mastermind Big D (John Lawrence) share his evil plans with minions Mousie (Jimmy Murphy) and the hulking Huh! (Norman Grabowski). Enraged by teenagers and their mindless rock music, Big D aims to eliminate a certain fab foursome at their next concert. To save the day Sandra seeks out world-famous secret agent John Stamp (dig that gag, James Bond fans?). Unfortunately Stamp was hospitalized thanks to his bumbling butler Homer (Jonathan Daly) whom Sandra mistakes for the super-spy. Homer is happy to help, partly because Sandra is so pretty, but also because he always wanted his own mission. So Homer drives down to the beach in his gold-lined, gadget-laden ZZR to tangle with Big D, but gets all flustered when faced with three foxy female assassins.

Ah, but never mind the silly plot. Just soak in the sunshine, buff beach bodies and bikini babes and groove along to the surf-rock stylings of The Astronauts singing "Baby, Please Don't Go", The Knickerbockers performing a cover version of "It's Not Unusual" and The Turtles playing "She'll Come Back." Later on Dobie Gray performs the title song "(Out of Sight) Out on the Floor" and suffers the indignity of having his performance intercut with a 'zany' chase scene. Oh, and although the film steals footage of fans screaming at a Beatles concert from the documentary What's Happening! The Beatles in the USA, Big D actually winds up venting his rage on Freddie & The Dreamers. The British pop group perform not one but two songs: "Funny Over You" and "A Love Like You" sharing the stage with some lovely go-go dancers who mimic Freddie's distinctive (i.e. ridiculous) moves.

Not to be confused with the more famous George Clooney-Jennifer Lopez romantic crime caper of the same name, Out of Sight was the third and last in a series of films aimed at teenagers by director Lennie Weinrib and producer Brad Patton for Universal Pictures. Preceded by Beach Ball (1965) and Wild Wild Winter (1966) the film was an obvious cash-in on American International Pictures' Beach Party movies and, like that series, scripted by middle-aged men (co-writer Larry Hovis was also an actor on sitcom Hogan's Heroes) with next-to-no knowledge of the real teen scene in the swinging Sixties. Hence that would-be hip beach lingo is strictly squaresville, daddy-o. As with AIP's later Beach Party movies, Out of Sight tries to blend the teen musical genre with other Sixties film fads, principally the spy spoof. Between musical numbers a good portion of the rambling, episodic plot sends up spy film conventions while the film also throws in Sandra's dad (Forrest Lewis), an absent-minded professor. His crackpot inventions provide the deus ex machina once the film has exhausted Homer's banter with man-hungry geek girl Marvin (Carolyn Barry) and car-crazy Greg's (Robert Pine) terrible puns. Which to be honest happens long before the finale.

With both a cartoon plot and wacky car chases straight out of Hanna-Barbera (indeed Homer's souped-up gold-plated roadster is closer to Penelope Pitstop than James Bond), Out of Sight strings together a bunch of rock numbers and absurdly juvenile gags. Films like these are the epitomé of silly Sixties tat, frivolous, inoffensive and for a certain mindset: irresistible. Those unable to make it through the opening ten minutes of nubile youngsters in skimpy beach-wear twisting their way through jangly surf guitars, bouncy beats and brass will find this aimless enterprise a real slog. But while the jokes are lame, the music is great and the film offers other diversions. Sex was as big a selling point in teen beach musicals as the music and the girls here are aptly out-of-sight. Strangely, after setting up the plot Sandra barely appears at all which proves a criminal waste of engaging and gorgeous Karen Jensen. However, Sixties bombshells Wende Wagner, Maggie Thrett and Deanna Lund, later star of Irwin Allen's cult TV show Land of the Giants, steals scenes with their fine comic timing as Scuba, Wipeout and Tough Bod, three lovely but lethal assassins that each have a gimmick. Thrett's Wipeout, a tough-talking surfer chick with unstoppable karate skills is especially funny. At one point her karate antics spawn a dance craze. Groovy.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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