Fathom (1967)

Fathom (1967), directed by Leslie H. Martinson.

First review

I did not go to the theater much as a child, but I did have a pal whose Mom would drop us off for an afternoon. He would tell her we were seeing Son of Flubber or That Darned Cat but instead we would go to Deadlier Than the Male, Some Girls Do, and Modesty Blaise. (Such subterfuge would never have occurred to me).

These were in no sense "adult" films; just a bit of bikini art and softly smutty innuendoes that were mere accessories to an action film. We loved them.

Fathom, Raquel Welch's first starring vehicle, is another I remember. She is, of course, gorgeous.

It's a The Maltese Falcon (1941) caper with a Chinese dragon sculpture. With beautiful Spanish locations, planes, trains, sports cars, helicopters, speed boats, bulls, spear guns, parachutes and a screen goddess often mostly undressed -- we don't need much in the way of sparkling dialogue or clever plot.

Available on DVD.

Second review

Kino was supposed to have a Blu-ray of this, but then canceled it without explanation. Such was my disappointment that I retaliated by watching the DVD again. That'll show 'em.

A dental hygienist vacationing in Spain with the American parachute jumping team gets roped into dangerous nefarious adventures. Is it atomic secrets or a plain old-fashioned art treasure heist?

It's pretty modest in its ambitions but the Mediterranean locations are lovely and nothing says 1960s action like speedboats, helicopters, planes, trains and fast automobiles. It's good to have the woman's point of view now and then.

Hitchcock mastered the romantic comedy crime adventure with films like The Lady Vanishes (1938), To Catch a Thief (1955) and North by Northwest (1959). Imitators can't quite pull it off, and we decline from Charade (1963) through Arabesque (1966) and finally arrive at Fathom, by which time the Bond tropes have taken over. Our heroine has exploding earrings.

Raquel Welch is employed for her face and figure. No point in wearing librarian glasses or putting her hair into an ugly bun. She's gorgeous and can't hide it, so she lives with it and often makes jokes. Which is a good approach. You see hunky guys doing it too; all the best action heroes are funny.

The opening credits are a improbably lascivious montage of her folding and packing a parachute. She looks like she knows what she's doing.

At a deserted bull-ring a bull just happens to be hanging out in a closet waiting for someone to open the door.

Photographed by Douglas Slocombe.

Available on DVD. Blu-ray someday?

http://watershade.net/public/fathom.jpg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d8/Fathomposter.jpg