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  Scorpions and Miniskirts Spies, lies and sexy thighs
Year: 1967
Director: Ramón Comas
Stars: Adrian Hoven, Barth Warren, Gérard Landry, Teresa del Rio, Claudia Gravy, Lilia Neyung, Karin Feddersen, George Wang, Joysane Gilbert, Wolfgang Preiss
Genre: Comedy, Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: After bursting out of a coffin to shoot dead a bunch of enemy agents, French super-spy Paul Riviere (Adrian Hoven) of the Strategic Investigation Bureau flies to Hong Kong. There he rescues fellow agent Bruno Nussak (Barth Warren) from Chinese assassins. Also in need of rescuing is Leila Wong (Lilia Neyung), a comely Chinese double-agent with whom Bruno is hopelessly smitten. Thanks to Leila the two spies uncover details behind a dastardly plot hatched by Dr. Kung (George Wang), an evil mastermind working for a secret sect known as Red Scorpion. He plans to start a third world war by injecting the United States Secretary of Defense with an hypnotic drug. Joined by Leila, Paul and Bruno's globe-hopping adventures gain them additional lovely lady companions. Lounge singer Sonia Bellford (Teresa del Rio), leggy nightclub owner François (Karin Feddersen) and sexy nurse Pamela (Joysane Gilbert) each provide vital clues and join the chase. Unfortunately for our horny, happy-go-lucky heroes romance proves impossible with their every move dogged by kill-crazy Chinamen.

With a title that sounds like a Japanese game show, Scorpions and Miniskirts ranks among a legion of so-called Eurospy romps that proliferated in the Sixties post-James Bond. This particular example was a Spanish-French-West German co-production assembled by actor-producer Adrian Hoven. A popular matinee idol in European cinema in the Fifties, Hoven later diversified into film production and distribution through Aquila Film Enterprises, a company he co-founded with wealthy Siemens stockholder Pier Andrea Caminecci. Their output leaned towards exploitation including Jess Franco's erotic horror opus Succubus (1967) and most infamously proto-torture porn horror nasty Mark of the Devil (1970). Hoven himself directed the sequel Mark of the Devil Part II (1972). His other far-from-highbrow directorial efforts include: The Erotic Adventures of Siegfried (1971) and Hard to Remember (1974) a.k.a. The Blonde Love Machine starring a young Rutger Hauer.

Originally known by the more prosaic title Death on a Rainy Day, Scorpions and Miniskirts is a colourful comic book-styled adventure in the mold of the Kommissar X films like Kiss Kiss... Kill Kill (1966). Creative framing by Spanish director Ramón Comas makes evocative use of the lavish sets and eye-catching locations while the action sequences are lively, well-choreographed and near-relentless. The plot is mind-boggling but inconsequential, coasting by on lovable genre trappings and groovy period charm. On the downside it is marred by casual racism and an alarmingly smug strain of Sixties jet set sexism. Surrounded by short-skirted lovelies at every turn the perpetually priapic Paul and Bruno can't keep their hands to themselves. Even though none of the women seem especially impressed with their smarmy antics. Even so it is obvious Comas does not take their boorish behaviour at face value. A running gag has the two amorously-inclined agents continually frustrated in their efforts to get to first base with any of these glamorous women. In fact almost all of the heroines end up in the no-less lecherous arms of Paul and Bruno's boss: Commander Fernion (Gérard Landry). That certainly never happened to Joe Walker, let alone James Bond.

Far from a sober suspense yarn this is a spy spoof all the way. Among the many ridiculous set-pieces a riotous punch-up at a shipboard casino followed by a lively escape through a brothel is especially amusing. Paul and Bruno are swarmed by a horde of drunken sailors and end up having to be rescued by a butch karate-chopping lesbian. Perhaps the strangest moment happens towards the end where an address to the U.N. General Assembly intercuts documentary footage of actual US Secretary of Defense at the time: Robert McNamara, much-despised architect of the Vietnam War, delivering a plea for peace. Which is arguably the most far-fetched thing in an already outlandish movie. Jaunty score by the reliable Piero Umiliani with an infectious samba flavour.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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