Matchless


1h 44m 1967
Matchless

Brief Synopsis

A dashing reporter with a magic ring and a secret chemical formula fights off enemy agents.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Action
Fantasy
Spy
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 27 Sep 1967
Production Company
Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica S.p.A.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 44m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Mistaken for a spy by the Communist Chinese, New York journalist Perry "Matchless" Liston is tortured to obtain information about a lethal chemical substance. An elderly Oriental with whom he shares a cell gives Liston a ring that, when rubbed, makes him invisible for a short period of time. With the ring's help, he escapes from a Chinese firing squad but lands in the U. S. military's torture chamber for his presumed knowledge about the same chemical. He reluctantly agrees to assist U. S. intelligence forces in recovering the formula as well as samples of the substance held by Andreanu, a sinister international gangster. Aided by agent Arabella, whom he meets in London, Liston plots to get the material out of a Munich bank, but he encounters competition from foreign agent Tipsy and American traitor Hank Norris. Eventually Liston succeeds in extracting the formula and samples by employing the magical ring. Not trusting even the U. S. military with the dangerous information, Liston throws everything into the harbor at Hamburg. Unknown to Arabella, however, Liston keeps the magic ring.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Action
Fantasy
Spy
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 27 Sep 1967
Production Company
Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica S.p.A.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 44m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Matchless


Ever notice how every secret agent in the movies seems to have a gimmick? Well, Perry Liston - code name: Matchless - has got a doozie. When confronted with unavoidable capture or certain death from enemies, he can literally vanish into thin air. He's not superhuman though. His ability to become invisible at will is completely dependent on a unique ring given to him by a fellow prisoner in a Chinese jail. And the ring's powers are limited: it can only be used once every 10 hours and the wearer can expect his invisible state to last no more than twenty minutes. Those are the rules and Matchless (1966), a quirky international spy spoof, plays fast and loose with the gimmick.

In the title role, Patrick O'Neal is not really a professional spy. He's actually a reporter from The New York Tribune who signs his columns with the byline of "Matchless." While on assignment in China, he is captured and tortured in a secret prison by Chinese agents who think he possesses top-secret information about a lethal chemical substance. He miraculously escapes a firing squad only to end up imprisoned by American military intelligence who are after the same thing. Considering his limited options, Liston agrees to masquerade as a secret agent for the U.S., teaming up with fellow spy Arabella (Ira von Furstenberg). Their mission leads them to the lair of international criminal Andreanu (Donald Pleasence) who keeps samples of the deadly chemical in a Munich bank. Complicating their assignment are Hank Norris (Henry Silva) and Tipsy (Nicoletta Machiavelli), rival spies for the Chinese.

Matchless is less a spy spoof than a fantasy adventure with sci-fi overtones. Besides the 'Invisible Man' gimmick, there are Andreanu's household of robotic servants including a black cyborg attendant named Charles, centrifugal force spinners used as torturing devices, and the post-operative results of "Operation Plastic Surgery" - Chinese and American agents who have had their facial features altered in order to infiltrate the enemy's ranks. And since Matchless was made in the midst of the sixties spy craze, there are plenty of gorgeous women to ogle. Ira von Furstenberg - a European Princess making her screen debut here - gets to sport a flashy wardrobe (one 'evening wear' outfit accents her bare midriff) but co-star Nicoletta Machiavelli makes an even stronger impression, particularly in the sequence where she drops from the sky via helicopter onto Andreanu's estate, clad in a silver metallic suit. It looks like something out of Fantomas (1913-14) or Les Vampires (1915-16), the fantasy serials of film director Louis Feuillade.

The director of Matchless - Alberto Lattuada - may sound familiar to you. That's because he co-directed Variety Lights with Federico Fellini in 1950 and has worked on numerous Italian and European films including Mafioso (1962) and Stay As You Are (1978) starring Marcello Mastroianni and Natassia Kinski in her first starring role. While Matchless is certainly not Lattuada's best work, it's still a lot of fun and more entertaining than most James Bond imitations. Not only does it boast a catchy music score by Ennio Morricone and Gino Marinuzzi, Jr. but it features a wide range of interesting locations, spanning the globe from New York (glimpses from the top of the Pan Am building, the Brooklyn Bridge and the subway) to London to Munich. The special effects are goofy (how about that scene where Arabella is carried down a corridor by the invisible "Matchless"?) and Mike Myers of the Austin Powers films would love the pop-art opening credit sequence, set amid an array of multicolored test tubes and beakers filled with bubbling liquids.

Producer: Luigi Carpentieri, Ermanno Donati
Director: Alberto Lattuada
Screenplay: Alberto Lattuada, Luigi Malerba, Mario Pierotti, Jack Pulman
Production Design: Gisella Longo
Cinematography: Alessandro D'Eva
Costume Design: Piero Tosi
Film Editing: Franco Fraticelli
Original Music: Gino Marinuzzi, Jr., Ennio Morricone, Piero Piccioni
Principal Cast: Patrick O'Neal (Perry "Matchless" Liston), Ira von Furstenberg (Arabella), Donald Pleasence (Andreanu), Henry Silva (Hank Norris), Sorrell Booke (Colonel Coolpepper), Howard St. John (General Shapiro), Tipsy (Nicoletta Machiavelli), Elisabetta Wu (O-Lan).
C-104m. Letterboxed.

By Jeff Stafford
Matchless

Matchless

Ever notice how every secret agent in the movies seems to have a gimmick? Well, Perry Liston - code name: Matchless - has got a doozie. When confronted with unavoidable capture or certain death from enemies, he can literally vanish into thin air. He's not superhuman though. His ability to become invisible at will is completely dependent on a unique ring given to him by a fellow prisoner in a Chinese jail. And the ring's powers are limited: it can only be used once every 10 hours and the wearer can expect his invisible state to last no more than twenty minutes. Those are the rules and Matchless (1966), a quirky international spy spoof, plays fast and loose with the gimmick. In the title role, Patrick O'Neal is not really a professional spy. He's actually a reporter from The New York Tribune who signs his columns with the byline of "Matchless." While on assignment in China, he is captured and tortured in a secret prison by Chinese agents who think he possesses top-secret information about a lethal chemical substance. He miraculously escapes a firing squad only to end up imprisoned by American military intelligence who are after the same thing. Considering his limited options, Liston agrees to masquerade as a secret agent for the U.S., teaming up with fellow spy Arabella (Ira von Furstenberg). Their mission leads them to the lair of international criminal Andreanu (Donald Pleasence) who keeps samples of the deadly chemical in a Munich bank. Complicating their assignment are Hank Norris (Henry Silva) and Tipsy (Nicoletta Machiavelli), rival spies for the Chinese. Matchless is less a spy spoof than a fantasy adventure with sci-fi overtones. Besides the 'Invisible Man' gimmick, there are Andreanu's household of robotic servants including a black cyborg attendant named Charles, centrifugal force spinners used as torturing devices, and the post-operative results of "Operation Plastic Surgery" - Chinese and American agents who have had their facial features altered in order to infiltrate the enemy's ranks. And since Matchless was made in the midst of the sixties spy craze, there are plenty of gorgeous women to ogle. Ira von Furstenberg - a European Princess making her screen debut here - gets to sport a flashy wardrobe (one 'evening wear' outfit accents her bare midriff) but co-star Nicoletta Machiavelli makes an even stronger impression, particularly in the sequence where she drops from the sky via helicopter onto Andreanu's estate, clad in a silver metallic suit. It looks like something out of Fantomas (1913-14) or Les Vampires (1915-16), the fantasy serials of film director Louis Feuillade. The director of Matchless - Alberto Lattuada - may sound familiar to you. That's because he co-directed Variety Lights with Federico Fellini in 1950 and has worked on numerous Italian and European films including Mafioso (1962) and Stay As You Are (1978) starring Marcello Mastroianni and Natassia Kinski in her first starring role. While Matchless is certainly not Lattuada's best work, it's still a lot of fun and more entertaining than most James Bond imitations. Not only does it boast a catchy music score by Ennio Morricone and Gino Marinuzzi, Jr. but it features a wide range of interesting locations, spanning the globe from New York (glimpses from the top of the Pan Am building, the Brooklyn Bridge and the subway) to London to Munich. The special effects are goofy (how about that scene where Arabella is carried down a corridor by the invisible "Matchless"?) and Mike Myers of the Austin Powers films would love the pop-art opening credit sequence, set amid an array of multicolored test tubes and beakers filled with bubbling liquids. Producer: Luigi Carpentieri, Ermanno Donati Director: Alberto Lattuada Screenplay: Alberto Lattuada, Luigi Malerba, Mario Pierotti, Jack Pulman Production Design: Gisella Longo Cinematography: Alessandro D'Eva Costume Design: Piero Tosi Film Editing: Franco Fraticelli Original Music: Gino Marinuzzi, Jr., Ennio Morricone, Piero Piccioni Principal Cast: Patrick O'Neal (Perry "Matchless" Liston), Ira von Furstenberg (Arabella), Donald Pleasence (Andreanu), Henry Silva (Hank Norris), Sorrell Booke (Colonel Coolpepper), Howard St. John (General Shapiro), Tipsy (Nicoletta Machiavelli), Elisabetta Wu (O-Lan). C-104m. Letterboxed. By Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Rome, Munich, and Hamburg. Opened in Rome in September 1967 under the English title; running time: 105 min. Dean Craig is a pseudonym for Mario Pierotti.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1966

Released in United States 1966