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Spy-Fidelity: Dean Martin and the sexy ladies of the ‘Matt Helm’ films
09.19.2014
04:09 pm

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Dean Martin
Lalo Schifrin
Matt Helm
Ann-Margret


 
When I was a little boy, I used to love the Matt Helm films. Of all the sub-Bond spy movie imitators of the Sixties, I liked the Matt Helm series the most. They were flashy, colorful, cartoony and quite frankly, they were simple enough for a bright five-year old to more or less understand them. That’s how old I would have been when I discovered them. I thought Dean Martin was an actor who played Matt Helm, agent of I.C.E. (Intelligence and Counter Espionage), first, and a singer second. “He sings, too?” was kinda where my kid’s brain took it, it was even more confusing for me when “Matt” would listen to Dino’s records in the films.
 

 
The Matt Helm movies were fairly frequent “Movie of the Week” fare on network television in the early Seventies. I’d watch them each time they aired. I even read some of Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm novels which you could always find at garage sales for a dime. They were much more serious than the Matt Helm films’ decidedly light-hearted approach. There were a LOT of them, here are some of the titles:

The Removers
The Shadowers
The Ravagers
The Devastators
The Betrayers
The Menacers
The Interlopers
The Poisoners
The Intriguers
The Intimidators
The Terminators
The Retaliators
The Terrorizers
The Revengers
The Annihilators
The Infiltrators
The Detonators
The Vanishers
The Demolishers
The Frighteners
The Threateners
The Damagers

There’s been a rumor for some time that Steven Spielberg wants to revive the series. I kinda hope that doesn’t happen. What’s the point after Austin Powers?
 

 
Dean Martin, as he pretty much did in nearly all of his movies, played a fictionalized version of himself—see Billy Wilder’s jaw-dropping Kiss Me, Stupid for the best (and most lurid) example— but in this case he was a jovial charming rogue of an alcoholic playboy super spy and not a jovial, charming rogue of an alcoholic playboy cowboy or a nightclub singer or airplane pilot, etc, etc. He was Dean Martin in James Bond drag, basically. And it worked. The Matt Helm films were some of the top grossing motion pictures of the Sixties. Even if they do seem dated, politically incorrect and sexist, they were really popular in their day.
 

 
The ladies of the Matt Helm films were truly impressive, let’s not forget about them. Some of the finest grade-A Sixties pulchritude to be found on the planet—Ann-Margret, Stella Stevens, the ultimate MILF Cyd Charisse (who was a very va va va voomish 45-year old when she made The Silencers), Sharon Tate, Tina Louise, Elke Sommer (how I adored her!) and Nancy Kwan (ditto!)—were all on the, uh, Dean’s list. You could certainly make the case that the Helm films rivaled the Bond films as eye candy for the male members of the audience. The ladies had Dino…
 

 
These pages are scanned in from Matt Helm promotional calendars from 1968 and 1969.
 

 

Tina Louise
 

Sharon Tate
 

Elke Sommer
 

Jann Watson
 

Alena Johaston
 

Penny Brahms
 

Marilyn Tindall

It’s interesting to note that although the Matt Helm series obviously grew out of a desire to copy the success of the Bond films with a home-grown Hollywood version (producer Irving Allen had fumbled the ball on Bond, having insulted Ian Fleming about his books potential as television projects), the James Bond franchise took on a decidedly Matt Helm-esque flavor during the Roger Moore years.

To get Dean Martin to star as Matt Helm, Allen was obliged to make him a partner in the film franchise. Martin ended up making more on The Silencers than Sean Connery made for playing James Bond in Thunderball. Soon after hearing of this, Connery renegotiated his deal.
 

Japanese Murderer’s Row poster

Below, Murderer’s Row with Ann-Margret and Karl Malden. Dig the FAB opening credits with a typically great score by spy-fi maestro, Lalo Schifrin.
 

 
Here’s a trailer for the film that is typical of the whimsical attitude of the Matt Helm films. Clearly the man don’t give a fuck!

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘The time I met Dean Martin…’: A True Story

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Dean Martin’s burger recipe vs. Frank Sinatra’s burger recipe
01.24.2014
10:38 am

Topics:
Amusing
Food

Tags:
Frank Sinatra
Dean Martin
Recipes
Hamburgers


 
Sinatra’s recipe is very clear cut and straight to the point. Just the way I like ‘em. But Dino’s method has a charm all its own!

Click here to view a larger image.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Ernest Hemingway’s burger recipe is the manliest thing you can do with a cow except beat it up

‘The time I met Dean Martin…’ A True Story
 
Via KFMW

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘The time I met Dean Martin…’ A True Story
01.01.2014
08:17 am

Topics:
Heroes
Pop Culture

Tags:
Dean Martin


 

There is a humorous recipe for “Martin Burgers” that Dean Martin came up with (grill some ground beef, pour a shot of bourbon, done!) that was posted by Letters of Note that reminded me of my own encounter with the legendary entertainer. It also involves hamburgers. And bourbon. It’s one of my favorite stories to tell. Gather ‘round, children…

This event took place in, I think, 1992, when I was 26 years old. I’d recently read Nick Tosches’ excellent biography of Martin, Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, and I was on a Dean Martin “kick” that culminated in me having a professional photo house make me a 6 ft. by 6 ft. photo mural of the above Dean Martin album cover (which Boing Boing’s Mark Fraunenfelder once described in Wired. I still have it, but it’s not hanging up).

I was absolutely fascinated by Dean Martin, the very definition of the devil-may-care roué who truly wasn’t impressed by anything or anyone. Beauty? He had more women than he knew what to do with. Fame? Come on. Money? Please! Dino didn’t care if you were the President of the United States, some hot piece of ass or the head of the Las Vegas Mafia. The man, to paraphrase the Super Furry Animals, simply did not give a fuck. Weltschmerz as an art form! Ennui deluxe! I reckon Dean Martin must’ve been the coolest man ever to live.

Janet Charlton, the Star magazine gossip columnist, seen frequently on Access Hollywood,  ET and similar shows back then, told me that Dean Martin—who was generally thought to be a complete recluse, sitting home drunk in an armchair watching movie westerns, basically—did in fact dine out nearly every night at the Hamburger Hamlet (an upscale LA burger chain) on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills.

A few weeks after she told me this, Mike and Roni, two pals of mine from New York, arrived on my doorstep unannounced. They seemed quite amused by my gigantic Dean Martin album cover and when I told them that he was a regular at the Doheny Drive Hamburger Hamlet, we all three enthusiastically agreed that this was where we’d dine that evening. And we brought a camera.

I generally like the Hamburger Hamlet chain, but the one in Beverly Hills has got to be THE restaurant in LA with the oldest clientele, hands down. It’s the sort of place where grandparents take their grandchildren out to eat and the grandchildren are in their seventies. I’m talking OLD. Palm Springs old. Miami Beach old. A few of the faces seemed extremely familiar from sixties television, character actors who might have been on The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza or Green Acres, but who I could not place exactly due to the passing of years. What made walking into this place seem even more surreal is that it is merely a block away from all the rock clubs on the Sunset Strip.

So we get there and valet the car. I asked the maître d’, who must’ve been all of 19, if we could be seated near Dean Martin’s table. He took the money I put into his hand and looked at me like I was an idiot. Not a stalker mind you, but a complete idiot. “Oookay,” he whistled dismissively and rolled his eyes.

Martin was not there, he told us, but they did expect him. So we sat in the lobby and we waited. And waited. And waited. After looking at the grub the waiters were serving up, we decided he wasn’t going to show up and split to grab a steak at Dan Tana’s. As the valet handed me my car keys I asked him, “We heard that Dean Martin eats here all the time. When is a good day to see him?” He replied “Mr Martin? Oh, his chauffeur just phoned ahead, he’ll be here any minute.”

I tossed my keys back to him and we returned inside and were seated in the back section of the restaurant. Within a few minutes, the sultan of suave, secret agent Matt Helm, the roast-master general hisself, Dean Martin stumbled in, completely shit-faced. His eyes were bloodshot red and he looked old and he looked drunk. Very drunk. It was probably a very good thing that he could afford to employ a full-time driver, let’s just say…

As soon as he took his seat, the waiter slammed down several shots of bourbon and two beers in front of him. Dino downed two shots immediately and two more were placed in front of him in a flash.

We made our move before they brought his food out. Roni got her camera ready and asked politely, “Mr. Martin, can I get a picture of you with these guys? They’re big fans of yours!”

He looked at us like “Yeah, right” and replied quietly “Most of my fans these days are old broads.”

I told him about my giant 6 ft. mural of his album cover and that I was born and raised in Wheeling, WV, just across the Ohio River from Martin’s hometown of Steubenville, OH. He softened a bit and said “I remember Wheeling, WV. I used to swim there and mess around and hang out there when I was a boy.” (No matter how slowly I ask you to imagine this sentence being said, you’re going to make it faster in your mind than he spoke it. Pause after each word as if there is a period… or a wheeze).

Today Steubenville has dozens of things named after Dean Martin (they also hold a yearly Dean Martin festival). I asked him when was the last time he’d visited his hometown and he just snickered.

“Do you mind if we get a picture?” Roni asked again.

“I don’t think they allow that here,” he demurred, trying to avoid it.

“Who’s gonna stop us? Let’s just do it,” she replied.

Martin shook his head and exhaled with undisguised annoyance, parted his lips and clicked on a a very fake smile. Through his gritted teeth he said “Go ahead, I don’t give a shit.” Something about his manner let Mike and I know that he meant NOW, so we squatted beside his chair.

After the flash went off, his smile vanished, he looked down at his drink and completely ignored us. We knew this was our cue to leave and we took it. Outside his limo was waiting. It sported a vanity plate reading “DRUNKY.”

The story doesn’t end there: Two weeks later I get a package of two big prints of the photo and several smaller ones from Roni. I laughed my ass off, DELIGHTED at seeing this memento of our loopy encounter with Dino. I left them out on the kitchen counter and every time I walked past them I grinned and marveled at the fact that a photo existed with Dean Martin and ME in it.

Then the phone rang. It was Roni asking had I gotten the package. I was looking down at the picture when she asked me: “Did you notice that his…”

No, I hadn’t noticed it, but I did then: His pants had been unfastened and un-zipped old man-style so his gut could hang out and the camera had caught this!

The photo I had been admiring all day became a million times better before my very eyes.

But the story doesn’t end there, either: At the time, I was in the middle of writing a script with Kramer (he of Bongwater and Shimmy-Disc fame) and I gave him one of the larger prints, which he hung in his Noise New Jersey studio. Around this time, he and Penn Jillette had formed a band called Captain Howdy and they were doing a bit of recording. Apparently Penn asked Kramer who the old guy in the photo was, but he refused to believe it when told that it was Dean Martin. Eventually he relented, and the Captain Howdy song “Dino’s Head” was apparently inspired in part by the below photo (and Penn getting to use Dean Martin’s “special” German shower head when Penn & Teller were performing in Las Vegas, as is explained in the song).
 

Click on photo to view larger image.
 

 

It doesn’t end there, either. Last month, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher used the Dino photo in a bit comparing JFK to Reagan, as seen below

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Richard Metzger: The time I met Dean Martin
12.28.2012
09:03 am

Topics:
Heroes

Tags:
Dean Martin


 

There is a humorous recipe for “Martin Burgers” that Dean Martin came up with (grill some ground beef, pour a shot of bourbon, done!) that was posted by Letters of Note that reminded me of my own encounter with the legendary entertainer. It also involves hamburgers. And bourbon. It’s one of my favorite stories to tell. Gather ‘round, children…

This event took place in, I think, 1992, when I was 26 years old. I’d recently read Nick Tosches’ excellent biography of Martin, Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, and I was on a Dean Martin “kick” that culminated in me having a professional photo house make me a 6 ft. by 6 ft. photo mural of the above Dean Martin album cover (which Boing Boing’s Mark Fraunenfelder once described in Wired. I still have it, but it’s not hanging up).

I was absolutely fascinated by Dean Martin, the very definition of the devil-may-care roué who truly wasn’t impressed by anything or anyone. Beauty? He had more women than he knew what to do with. Fame? Come on. Money? Please! Dino didn’t care if you were the President of the United States, some hot piece of ass or the head of the Las Vegas Mafia. The man, to paraphrase the Super Furry Animals, simply did not give a fuck. Weltschmerz as an art form! Ennui deluxe! I reckon Dean Martin must’ve been the coolest man ever to live.

Janet Charlton, the Star magazine gossip columnist, seen frequently on Access Hollywood,  ET and similar shows back then, told me that Dean Martin—who was generally thought to be a complete recluse, sitting home drunk in an armchair watching movie westerns, basically—did in fact dine out nearly every night at the Hamburger Hamlet (an upscale LA burger chain) on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills.

A few weeks after she told me this, Mike and Roni, two pals of mine from New York, arrived on my doorstep unannounced. They seemed quite amused by my gigantic Dean Martin album cover and when I told them that he was a regular at the Doheny Drive Hamburger Hamlet, we all three enthusiastically agreed that this was where we’d dine that evening. And we brought a camera.

I generally like the Hamburger Hamlet chain, but the one in Beverly Hills has got to be THE restaurant in LA with the oldest clientele, hands down. It’s the sort of place where grandparents take their grandchildren out to eat and the grandchildren are in their seventies. I’m talking OLD. Palm Springs old. Miami Beach old. A few of the faces seemed extremely familiar from sixties television, character actors who might have been on The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza or Green Acres, but who I could not place exactly due to the passing of years. What made walking into this place seem even more surreal is that it is merely a block away from all the rock clubs on the Sunset Strip.

So we get there and valet the car. I asked the maître d’, who must’ve been all of 19, if we could be seated near Dean Martin’s table. He took the money I put into his hand and looked at me like I was an idiot. Not a stalker mind you, but a complete idiot. “Oookay,” he whistled dismissively and rolled his eyes.

Martin was not there, he told us, but they did expect him. So we sat in the lobby and we waited. And waited. And waited. After looking at the grub the waiters were serving up, we decided he wasn’t going to show up and split to grab a steak at Dan Tana’s. As the valet handed me my car keys I asked him, “We heard that Dean Martin eats here all the time. When is a good day to see him?” He replied “Mr Martin? Oh, his chauffeur just phoned ahead, he’ll be here any minute.”

I tossed my keys back to him and we returned inside and were seated in the back section of the restaurant. Within a few minutes, the sultan of suave, secret agent Matt Helm, the roast-master general hisself, Dean Martin stumbled in, completely shit-faced. His eyes were bloodshot red and he looked old and he looked drunk. Very drunk. It was probably a very good thing that he could afford to employ a full-time driver, let’s just say…

As soon as he took his seat, the waiter slammed down several shots of bourbon and two beers in front of him. Dino downed two shots immediately and two more were placed in front of him in a flash.

We made our move before they brought his food out. Roni got her camera ready and asked politely, “Mr. Martin, can I get a picture of you with these guys? They’re big fans of yours!”

He looked at us like “Yeah, right” and replied quietly “Most of my fans these days are old broads.”

I told him about my giant 6 ft. mural of his album cover and that I was born and raised in Wheeling, WV, just across the Ohio River from Martin’s hometown of Steubenville, OH. He softened a bit and said “I remember Wheeling, WV. I used to swim there and mess around and hang out there when I was a boy.” (No matter how slowly I ask you to imagine this sentence being said, you’re going to make it faster in your mind than he spoke it. Pause after each word as if there is a period… or a wheeze).

Today Steubenville has dozens of things named after Dean Martin (they also hold a yearly Dean Martin festival). I asked him when was the last time he’d visited his hometown and he just snickered.

“Do you mind if we get a picture?” Roni asked again.

“I don’t think they allow that here,” he demurred, trying to avoid it.

“Who’s gonna stop us? Let’s just do it,” she replied.

Martin shook his head and exhaled with undisguised annoyance, parted his lips and clicked on a a very fake smile. Through his gritted teeth he said “Go ahead, I don’t give a shit.” Something about his manner let Mike and I know that he meant NOW, so we squatted beside his chair.

After the flash went off, his smile vanished, he looked down at his drink and completely ignored us. We knew this was our cue to leave and we took it. Outside his limo was waiting. It sported a vanity plate reading “DRUNKY.”

The story doesn’t end there: Two weeks later I get a package of two big prints of the photo and several smaller ones from Roni. I laughed my ass off, DELIGHTED at seeing this memento of our loopy encounter with Dino. I left them out on the kitchen counter and every time I walked past them I grinned and marveled at the fact that a photo existed with Dean Martin and ME in it.

Then the phone rang. It was Roni asking had I gotten the package. I was looking down at the picture when she asked me: “Did you notice that his…”

No, I hadn’t noticed it, but I did then: His pants had been unfastened and un-zipped old man-style so his gut could hang out and the camera had caught this!

The photo I had been admiring all day became a million times better before my very eyes.

But the story doesn’t end there, either: At the time, I was in the middle of writing a script with Kramer (he of Bongwater and Shimmy-Disc fame) and I gave him one of the larger prints, which he hung in his Noise New Jersey studio. Around this time, he and Penn Jillette had formed a band called Captain Howdy and they were doing a bit of recording. Apparently Penn asked Kramer who the old guy in the photo was, but he refused to believe it when told that it was Dean Martin. Eventually he relented, and the Captain Howdy song “Dino’s Head” was apparently inspired in part by the below photo (and Penn getting to use Dean Martin’s “special” German shower head when Penn & Teller were performing in Las Vegas, as is explained in the song).
 

Click on photo to view larger image.
 

 

It doesn’t end there, either. Last month, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher used the Dino photo in a bit comparing JFK to Reagan, as seen below

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment