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  Dick Smart 2.007 All the Lady wants is Dick
Year: 1967
Director: Franco Prosperi
Stars: Richard Wyler, Margaret Lee, Rosana Tapajós, Flavia Balbi, Elio Guerriero, Alfredo Leuti, Valentino Macchi, Tullio Altamura, Bernadette Kell, Assunta De Paoli
Genre: Comedy, Action, Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Glamorous femme fatale Lady Lister (Margaret Lee) gathers the five most renowned nuclear scientists in the world at her secret underground lair in Brazil. Having developed a means of converting coal into diamonds using a controlled nuclear explosion, she promptly grabs herself a nuclear device. In response to this perceived threat the CIA despatch clumsy, bespectacled female agent Jeanine Stafford (Rosana Tapajos) to enlist the aid of part-time super-spy Dick Smart (Richard Wyler). Reluctant at first, Dick is swayed by the offer of the handsome sum of a million dollars. To the frustration of jealous Jeanine, he spends more time romancing bathing beauties on the beaches of Rio than on his mission. It happens that Dick Smart and Lady Lister share a romantic history but as they flirt and match wits her partner in crime, Mr. McDiamond unveils his own evil ambitions.

Dick Smart 2.007 (see what they did there?) was among a slew of Eurospy outings for Margaret Lee, a lovely and charismatic British actress who found fame in Italy throughout the Sixties and Seventies. Here she relishes a rare shot at super-villainy complete with futuristic lair and some fetching fetish outfits. Lee’s co-star, British born American actor Richard Stapley had a solid career in Hollywood during the Forties and Fifties and in later years enjoyed some success as a novelist prior to his death in 2010. Throughout the Sixties however he headlined a string of Italian-made action-adventure films under the stage-name Richard Wyler. He played one of the most insufferable heroes in Eurospy cinema in Jess Franco’s oddball The Girl from Rio (1968) and is only marginally more tolerable here.

Described by his own CIA employers as a “lousy, no-good creep”, the aptly-named Dick is another in a long line of smarmy, self-serving Eurospy heroes parodying the smug chauvinism of James Bond. Whether ogling bikini girls on the beach, surfing the skies in a rather nifty hi-tech motorcycle-cum-gyrocopter or romancing a different girl in seemingly every scene, he is a little more Matt Helm than 007. Wyler plays what he is given, enjoying the odd moment of cracked comedy as in the restaurant scene where Dick casually distracts a poisonous snake with a bowl of milk or the moment his prized hot babe-detecting electronic gizmo (we all have those, Dick, they’re called eyes) proves his undoing.

It is really Margaret Lee’s show. Her Lady Lister proves more than a match for the handsome hero, outwitting him on several occasions before being double-crossed by McDiamond who stages an attempt on her life using a remote controlled taxi cab in an effective, suspenseful scene. For while Lady Lister’s scheme is fairly benign (she does not actually set out to hurt anyone), McDiamond proves genuinely creepy particularly with his croaky vocals emerging through an electronic voice-box. Thereafter, Lady Lister turns into a good guy, er girl, storming her own hideout as she machineguns villains with aplomb and proves instrumental in ultimately foiling the evil scheme. With its emphasis on underwater action, skimpy scuba gear and a hi-tech rocket launching motorbike, the film steals brazenly from Thunderball (1965) but also foreshadows The Wrecking Crew (1969) in pairing Dick Smart with Jeanine, an inept bombshell behind specs much like Sharon Tate’s sexy sidekick in that Matt Helm effort. Jeanine fawns over Dick who proves oddly oblivious to her charms even after she takes off her glasses. Still there is one nice, unexpected bit when she appears to shoot him dead in a scene Bond films usually reserve for a pre-credits gag.

The plot is all but impenetrable but frothy fun nonetheless. Italian rent-a-hack Franco Prosperi keeps things bubbling along nicely with inventive visuals and a snappy editing style. There are gadgets, glamorous locations and an impressive plethora of beautiful women. Prosperi even includes footage from a real beauty pageant. The action sequences are sporadic but energetic and well-staged despite some obvious stunt-doubling for Wyler. For all its minor flaws, Dick Smart 2.007 ranks among the more charming entries in the Eurospy cycle, right down to Margaret Lee’s climactic playful wink at the audience.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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