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The Wrecking Crew

Wednesday, November 20, 2019, 7:30 p.m., Dryden Theatre

(Phil Karlson, US 1968, 105 min., 35mm)

Once Upon a Time . . . at the Dryden. The final feature of the Matt Helm series, this comedic spy parody stars Dean Martin, Nancy Kwan, and Sharon Tate. (Released only six months prior to the gruesome Manson murders, the film was still playing in US theaters at the time of Tate’s death.) This lighthearted spoof of the popular James Bond franchise follows Matt Helm (Martin) as the apathetic spy who tries to stop a criminal mastermind from stealing enough money to send the world into a financial panic. Though Martin is entertaining as always, it is Tate’s character Freya Carlson who truly steals the spotlight with her hilarious gags and dynamic action scenes. Later, the Austin Powers series would base one of its characters on Tate’s portrayal of the blundering yet good-hearted spy.