The Wrecking Crew


1h 45m 1969
The Wrecking Crew

Brief Synopsis

Secret agent Matt Helm tries to stop a super-villain from stealing a billion-dollar gold shipment.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
House of 7 joys
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Action
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 5 Feb 1969
Production Company
Meadway-Claude Productions #4
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Wrecking Crew by Donald Hamilton (Greenwich, Conn., 1963).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Synopsis

Special agent Matt Helm is called upon to prevent an international catastrophe when a billion dollars in gold intended to bolster the British economy is hijacked in Denmark by a crime ring headed by Count Contini. The Count's former mistress, Lola Medina, offers to help Matt, but she is killed by a bomb-rigged Scotch bottle before she can talk. Also eager to assist is Freya Carlson, an enthusiastic but bumbling young woman who has been assigned by the Danish tourist office to help Matt. Matt and Freya gain entry to the Count's mansion by posing as journalists, but they are forced to flee when they are attacked by members of the gang. Two of the Count's seductive aides, Linka Karensky and Yu-Rang, then separately attempt to lure Matt to his death, but their plans for an intimate but lethal rendezvous are interrupted by the timely, though clumsy, intervention of Freya. Eventually, Matt's superior, MacDonald, arrives on the scene. After revealing that Freya is actually a secret agent, he forces a showdown with the Count. As a result, Linka is killed in an ambush set for Matt and Freya, while MacDonald succeeds only in getting himself wounded. Matt and Freya then trail Contini to his chateau and utilize numerous gadgets to outwit their opponents. After Yu-Rang has been killed in one of several explosions, Matt and Freya make a getaway by means of Matt's portable, folding mini-copter and board the train on which the Count is taking the gold to Luxembourg. During the melee that follows, the Count falls to his death through a trap door. With the gold saved, the villains foiled, and the train controls set on automatic, the mishap-prone Freya sets out to seduce the willing Matt.

Photo Collections

The Wrecking Crew - Sharon Tate Wardrobe Stills
Here are a few wardrobe stills taken of Sharon Tate as Freya Carlson in Columbia Pictures' The Wrecking Crew (1969).

Film Details

Also Known As
House of 7 joys
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Action
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 5 Feb 1969
Production Company
Meadway-Claude Productions #4
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Wrecking Crew by Donald Hamilton (Greenwich, Conn., 1963).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Articles

The Wrecking Crew (1969) -


Film producer Irving Allen is remembered less often for his many accomplishments than for a particular deal he turned down flat. With Warwick Films partner Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, Allen considered adapting the spy novels of Ian Fleming for the big screen but ultimately demurred... leaving Broccoli to form Eon Productions with Harry Saltzman and initiate the mega-successful James Bond franchise, beginning with Dr. No (1962). To save face, Allen threw his weight behind the rival Matt Helm spy movies from Columbia Pictures, which starred Dean Martin cast as considerably softer take on Helm. Under the aegis of Columbia Pictures, Allen produced the entire four film series, beginning with The Silencers (1966). The final Matt Helm outing, The Wrecking Crew (1968), took its title from the second book in Donald Hamilton's series of twenty-seven espionage novels but tossed the rest of Hamilton's story out the window. Helm's coterie of eager bed partners in this go-round include Tina Louise, Elke Sommer, and Sharon Tate, who received coaching in karate from future martial arts superstar Bruce Lee. (Elsewhere, 80s action star Chuck Norris makes his film debut as an extra.) The Wrecking Crew's disappointing box office performance scotched plans for a fifth Helm movie, while Sharon Tate's 1969 murder soured Martin from the notion of returning to the character in any form.

By Richard Harland Smith
The Wrecking Crew (1969) -

The Wrecking Crew (1969) -

Film producer Irving Allen is remembered less often for his many accomplishments than for a particular deal he turned down flat. With Warwick Films partner Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, Allen considered adapting the spy novels of Ian Fleming for the big screen but ultimately demurred... leaving Broccoli to form Eon Productions with Harry Saltzman and initiate the mega-successful James Bond franchise, beginning with Dr. No (1962). To save face, Allen threw his weight behind the rival Matt Helm spy movies from Columbia Pictures, which starred Dean Martin cast as considerably softer take on Helm. Under the aegis of Columbia Pictures, Allen produced the entire four film series, beginning with The Silencers (1966). The final Matt Helm outing, The Wrecking Crew (1968), took its title from the second book in Donald Hamilton's series of twenty-seven espionage novels but tossed the rest of Hamilton's story out the window. Helm's coterie of eager bed partners in this go-round include Tina Louise, Elke Sommer, and Sharon Tate, who received coaching in karate from future martial arts superstar Bruce Lee. (Elsewhere, 80s action star Chuck Norris makes his film debut as an extra.) The Wrecking Crew's disappointing box office performance scotched plans for a fifth Helm movie, while Sharon Tate's 1969 murder soured Martin from the notion of returning to the character in any form. By Richard Harland Smith

Matt Helm Lounge Set - The Matt Helm Lounge Box Set on DVD


By 1966 the James Bond franchise had already enjoyed four straight box-office hits, so it was probably inevitable that the suave, unstoppable British agent and lady's man would be satirized. The year would see not one, but two major film spoofs: the sprightly In Like Flint starring James Coburn, and the far inferior. The Silencers, starring Dean Martin as American agent Matt Helm. Amazingly, the lackluster Helm film would spawn three sequels of its own. The four films a now collected together in Sony's new value priced set Matt Helm Lounge.

Helm works for a government agency known as I.C.E. (Intelligence and Counter Espionage), the American equivalent of MI-5, though he only works on the rare occasion that the agency can get him to set aside his extracurricular activities: drinking, womanizing, and lounging in a circular bed that will, at the click of a button, glide forward and dump him into an indoor pool.

The first film in the series, The Silencers, finds Helm called out of "retirement" by I.C.E. chief MacDonald (James Gregory of Barney Miller) to track down the head of the evil "Big O" (Bureau of International Government and Order). Big O is lead by Tung-Tze (Victor Buono), who has stolen the timetables for the U.S. Government's underground nuclear tests and plans instigate "Operation Fallout," in which he will use a device of his own design to amplify the blasts and set off World War III! With the help of fellow-agent and certified klutz Gail Hendrix (Stella Stevens), Helm races to stop Tung-Tze before he destroys the world.

Murderers' Row has Helm on the track of a kidnapped inventor Norman Solaris (Richard Eastham), who has created a death ray that can incinerate an entire city. The trail leads to Blofeld-wannabe Julian Wall (Karl Malden), who intends to use the ray to wipe out Washington, D.C. With the help of Solaris' groovy go-go dancing daughter Suzie (Ann-Margaret), Helm infiltrates Wall's remote hideaway to free the doctor and stop Wall. In The Ambushers, yet another criminal mastermind is on hand to steal America's newest superweapon, which just happens to be a flying saucer. Along with sexy fellow agent Sheila Sommers (Janice Rule), Helm fights to retrieve the saucer from evil overlord Leopold Caselius (Albert Salmi) and femme-fatale Francesca Madeiros (Senta Berger), who comes equipped with drugged lipstick.

The last film in the series, The Wrecking Crew, features Nigel Green as Count Massimo Contini, another criminal mastermind who has successfully stolen a trainload of gold bullion, leaving the U.S. and England on the brink of economic collapse. Along with gorgeous but accident prone agent Freya Carlson (Sharon Tate), Helm is dispatched to attempt to retrieve the gold,. Fully aware of Helm's proclivities, Contini sends out two beautiful accomplices, Linka Karensky (Elke Sommer) and Wen Yu-Rang (Nancy Kwan), to get rid of him.

The Matt Helm series is a bewildering quartet of films for the time in which they were made: with the British invasion already having transformed the music industry virtually overnight, and the country rocked by social upheaval as American youth rebelled against the social order, Martin and his Rat Pack cronies were becoming increasingly anachronistic. While buddy Frank Sinatra was attempting to turn back the clock with his "Tony Rome" films (Tony Rome, Lady in Cement), which at least had the courage of their convictions, the Matt Helm films try to meld the Pack's cool, gin-soaked personae with the youth-oriented "mod" world. The result is something like putting Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly together in Xanadu. The only possible appeal was to the quickly dwindling backyard luau crowd, who had long since worn out their copies of Arthur Lyman's Taboo.

Martin, who was capable of some fine acting, tried here to bring the same lackadaisical, laid-back charm to the big screen that audiences were enjoying on his popular weekly television variety show, produced at the same time as these films: but what worked so well on the small screen is disastrous on the big screen, particularly in a genre that requires a more high-wattage performance to make it funny. Martin sleep-walks through the films as if he were laying back on his television couch and crooning a chorus of "Welcome to My World."

And the passage of time has been even less kind to the series: at a distance of forty years what little charm the films had to 60s audiences has long since been forgotten. The best of the lot is The Silencers, mainly due to Stella Stevens' hilarious performance as the goofy Hendrix. Janice Rule nearly steals The Ambushers from Martin, if for no other reason than that she appears to have been awake during the filming; and the underrated Elke Sommer seems to be the only one of the bunch with a full grasp of what kind of film she's in.

In the end, the best that can be said about the Mat Helm series is that they are marginally better than the Salt & Pepper films.

For more information about Matt Helm Lounge, visit Sony Pictures. To order Matt Helm Lounge, go to TCM Shopping.

by Fred Hunter

Matt Helm Lounge Set - The Matt Helm Lounge Box Set on DVD

By 1966 the James Bond franchise had already enjoyed four straight box-office hits, so it was probably inevitable that the suave, unstoppable British agent and lady's man would be satirized. The year would see not one, but two major film spoofs: the sprightly In Like Flint starring James Coburn, and the far inferior. The Silencers, starring Dean Martin as American agent Matt Helm. Amazingly, the lackluster Helm film would spawn three sequels of its own. The four films a now collected together in Sony's new value priced set Matt Helm Lounge. Helm works for a government agency known as I.C.E. (Intelligence and Counter Espionage), the American equivalent of MI-5, though he only works on the rare occasion that the agency can get him to set aside his extracurricular activities: drinking, womanizing, and lounging in a circular bed that will, at the click of a button, glide forward and dump him into an indoor pool. The first film in the series, The Silencers, finds Helm called out of "retirement" by I.C.E. chief MacDonald (James Gregory of Barney Miller) to track down the head of the evil "Big O" (Bureau of International Government and Order). Big O is lead by Tung-Tze (Victor Buono), who has stolen the timetables for the U.S. Government's underground nuclear tests and plans instigate "Operation Fallout," in which he will use a device of his own design to amplify the blasts and set off World War III! With the help of fellow-agent and certified klutz Gail Hendrix (Stella Stevens), Helm races to stop Tung-Tze before he destroys the world. Murderers' Row has Helm on the track of a kidnapped inventor Norman Solaris (Richard Eastham), who has created a death ray that can incinerate an entire city. The trail leads to Blofeld-wannabe Julian Wall (Karl Malden), who intends to use the ray to wipe out Washington, D.C. With the help of Solaris' groovy go-go dancing daughter Suzie (Ann-Margaret), Helm infiltrates Wall's remote hideaway to free the doctor and stop Wall. In The Ambushers, yet another criminal mastermind is on hand to steal America's newest superweapon, which just happens to be a flying saucer. Along with sexy fellow agent Sheila Sommers (Janice Rule), Helm fights to retrieve the saucer from evil overlord Leopold Caselius (Albert Salmi) and femme-fatale Francesca Madeiros (Senta Berger), who comes equipped with drugged lipstick. The last film in the series, The Wrecking Crew, features Nigel Green as Count Massimo Contini, another criminal mastermind who has successfully stolen a trainload of gold bullion, leaving the U.S. and England on the brink of economic collapse. Along with gorgeous but accident prone agent Freya Carlson (Sharon Tate), Helm is dispatched to attempt to retrieve the gold,. Fully aware of Helm's proclivities, Contini sends out two beautiful accomplices, Linka Karensky (Elke Sommer) and Wen Yu-Rang (Nancy Kwan), to get rid of him. The Matt Helm series is a bewildering quartet of films for the time in which they were made: with the British invasion already having transformed the music industry virtually overnight, and the country rocked by social upheaval as American youth rebelled against the social order, Martin and his Rat Pack cronies were becoming increasingly anachronistic. While buddy Frank Sinatra was attempting to turn back the clock with his "Tony Rome" films (Tony Rome, Lady in Cement), which at least had the courage of their convictions, the Matt Helm films try to meld the Pack's cool, gin-soaked personae with the youth-oriented "mod" world. The result is something like putting Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly together in Xanadu. The only possible appeal was to the quickly dwindling backyard luau crowd, who had long since worn out their copies of Arthur Lyman's Taboo. Martin, who was capable of some fine acting, tried here to bring the same lackadaisical, laid-back charm to the big screen that audiences were enjoying on his popular weekly television variety show, produced at the same time as these films: but what worked so well on the small screen is disastrous on the big screen, particularly in a genre that requires a more high-wattage performance to make it funny. Martin sleep-walks through the films as if he were laying back on his television couch and crooning a chorus of "Welcome to My World." And the passage of time has been even less kind to the series: at a distance of forty years what little charm the films had to 60s audiences has long since been forgotten. The best of the lot is The Silencers, mainly due to Stella Stevens' hilarious performance as the goofy Hendrix. Janice Rule nearly steals The Ambushers from Martin, if for no other reason than that she appears to have been awake during the filming; and the underrated Elke Sommer seems to be the only one of the bunch with a full grasp of what kind of film she's in. In the end, the best that can be said about the Mat Helm series is that they are marginally better than the Salt & Pepper films. For more information about Matt Helm Lounge, visit Sony Pictures. To order Matt Helm Lounge, go to TCM Shopping. by Fred Hunter

Quotes

Trivia

Working title: "The House of Seven Joys."

Columbia production number 8869.

The end of the film announces, "Coming up next... The Ravagers." This would have been the fifth Matt Helm film, but it was never made.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Palm Springs, Idyllwild, and the Walt Disney Ranch, California. The working title of this film is House of 7 Joys.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States February 1969

Released in United States Winter December 1968

Released in United States February 1969

Released in United States Winter December 1968