Dick Smart 2007 (1967)

4.0 out of 5

It’s startling to imagine how many filmmakers were making the same kind of spy movie between ‘65 and ’68, most of which suffer from appearing the same as the next. Dick Smart 2007 doesn’t really stand out much from any other Eurospy of its kind, but it still has that retro charm and flavor that only the few and far between fans of the medium understand and appreciate. In other words, it’s probably only recommended to the initiated.

That certain welcoming flavor might have something to do with the presence of prominent Eurospy girl Margaret Lee, the groovy dance theme, the familiar plot involving diamonds and a stolen atomic bomb, or an infallible secret agent named Dick, played by Richard Wyler. All seen numerous times before and after this, but Clichés are what make a movie like Dick Smart 2007 what it is and to complain about it seems pointless.

To be fair, the movie is fun, Lee and Wyler, surprisingly, have good chemistry, and Dick’s transforming moped becomes very unforgettable.

Alien Terminator / Top Line (1988)

1.5 out of 5

This perplexing piece of nonsense, produced at the increasingly desperate rear end of the 80s, pertains to be a swashbuckling Science Fiction Adventure of sorts when in fact it's better described as a confused cobbling of wildly conflicting generic ideas, buoyed only by the bemused expression of one Franco Nero in the rather ill-advised lead. A South American treasure hunt leads to a muddled alien conspiracy, an incredulous duel between an angry bull and a malfunctioning android "terminator", Nero's wife transforming into a gooey body snatcher and a bunch of Nazi's led by none other than George Kennedy.

Bodyguards, The / La scorta (1993)

4.0 out of 5

Despite a fair amount of bangs and kablooeys, fans of genre shoot’em-ups may not go for La Scorta. This sobering account of a squad of bodyguards—the “escort” of the title—assigned to protect a Mafia prosecutor in Sicily lacks the cartoonish violence of many poliziottesco thrillers. That’s because it’s based on the true story of a magistrate who became isolated and threatened after he sniffed out mob infiltration of a local city government. But the film is also a rare view of Italy’s self-sacrificing bodyguards, here morphing into the judge’s investigative unit as the powers try to quash his political probe.

Despite a constant atmosphere of deadly menace, much tension derives from personal conflicts that flare up in the cramped quarters of protective bunkers and surveillance vans. Misfit Angelo, played by hangdog-faced Claudio Amendola, is the most volatile of the bunch, a volunteer among the family men assigned to the dreaded detail. But it’s his rough sense of justice that wrangles the team into a cohesive fighting machine. That anti-Mafia judges in Sicily today still require armed escorts makes the film both fresh and terrifying.

Grand Slam / Ad ogni costo (1967)

2.5 out of 5

This slow-starter from Paramount aspires to be a diamond heist thriller of the Rififi/Ocean’s Eleven school but falls short. Edward G. Robinson, a retiring English professor in Rio de Janeiro, appears onscreen just long enough to assemble a team of European professionals to loot the diamond company he’s been drooling over from his classroom window.

Despite the unexpected challenge of penetrating the newly installed “Grand Slam” safe, wooden dialogue and a lack of distinguishing traits among the four recruits prevent the caper from ever heating up. Most of the conflict is generated by parachutist Klaus Kinski, who inexplicably bullies playboy Robert Hoffman throughout. The latter’s woo skills are needed to obtain a security key from the diamond company’s icy secretary, Janet Leigh—a humdrum affair.

All could be forgiven if the third-act heist had any measure of suspense. Besides a few snags, some nifty gadgets and a surprise ending, the only fireworks in the plot come from Rio’s Carnaval celebration outside.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics