Fathom (film)

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Fathom
Fathomposter.jpg
Promotional film poster by Tom Chantrell
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
Produced by John Kohn
Screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Based on Fathom Heavensent (unpublished novel) by Larry Forrester
Starring Raquel Welch
Anthony Franciosa
Ronald Fraser
Music by John Dankworth
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe
Edited by Max Benedict
Distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release date
  • 1 December 1967 (1967-12-01)
(Finland)
Running time
99 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $2,225,000[1]
Box office $1,000,000 (US/ Canada)[2][3]

Fathom is a 1967 British spy comedy film directed by Leslie H. Martinson, starring Raquel Welch and Anthony Franciosa.

Fathom Harvill (Welch) is a skydiver touring Europe with a U.S. parachute team. She is approached by a Scottish agent to recover an atomic triggering mechanism. The film was based on Larry Forrester's second Fathom novel Fathom Heavensent, then in the draft stage but never published.[4] His first was 1967's A Girl Called Fathom.[5]

This was one of three 1967 20th Century Fox films about female spies, the others being Doris Day's Caprice and Andrea Dromm's Come Spy with Me.

Plot[edit]

Fathom Harvill, a beautiful skydiver, is in Spain with a U.S. parachute team. She is abducted by a man called Timothy and taken to see Douglas Campbell, who says he is a Scottish agent working for NATO and wants Fathom to help him find a triggering mechanism for a nuclear weapon that has gone missing in the Mediterranean.

The device is hidden inside a figurine known as the Fire Dragon. In hot pursuit of it is an Armenian man named Serapkin who is working on behalf of Communist Chinese interests. Fathom skydives into the villa of a second man, Peter Merriwether, who has a trusted Chinese assistant Jo-May Soon, and is also searching for the figurine.

Fathom discovers that the Fire Dragon was stolen from a Far East museum by a Korean War deserter who is now being tracked by a private investigator. Campbell is one and Merriwether the other, but Fathom needs to find out for certain which is which.

After fending off a Serapkin knife attack and another from a harpoon, Fathom finds the figurine in a makeup case. She concludes that Campbell is the trustworthy one and boards a plane with Timothy and him, who promptly attempt to toss her from it. Merriwether arrives in another plane, disposes of Fathom's enemies and rescues her.

Cast[edit]

As appearing in screen credits (main roles identified):[6]

Actor Role
Raquel Welch Fathom Harvill
Anthony Franciosa Peter Merriwether
Ronald Fraser Col. Douglas Campbell, Chief of HADES
Richard Briers Flight Lt. Timothy Webb
Greta Chi Maj. Jo-May Soon (Chinese Secret Service)
Tom Adams Mike, Owner of Casa Miguel
Elizabeth Ercy Ulla
Ann Lancaster Mrs. Trivers
Tutte Lemkow Mehmed, Serapkin's servant
Reg Lye Mr. Trivers
Clive Revill Sergi Serapkin

Production[edit]

The film was made by 20th Century Fox to cash in on the success of the Modesty Blaise comic strip and film. It was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr and directed by Leslie Martinson who had just made the film of the TV show Batman. Semple says the studio were attracted by the fact that he and Martinson had made Batman so quickly and cheaply.[7]

He wrote the script in Boris Karloff's old house. Semple wrote the first twenty pages "making it up as I went along... I made every page exciting".[7]

Semple says he sent the first twenty pages to Fox and David Brown and Richard Zanuck liked it. They gave it to John Koch, who they wanted to produce. Koch insisted on writing the script with Semple line by line.[7]

The lead was given to Raquel Welch. She was a 20th Century Fox contractee who had leapt to fame with Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years.[8] This inspired Fox to give her her first starring vehicle.[9]

Filming started September 1966.[10] It was shot in Cártama, Mijas, Málaga, Torremolinos, Nerja, in Andalucía, Spain and Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Surrey, England. Semple says that Welch and Martinson had a fight on the first day of filming and never spoke throughout the rest of the shoot.[7]

Second unit director Peter Medak later said of working with Welch:

She was at that time quite inexperienced, exactly like one of those American drum majorettes. But she tried very hard and went to see the rushes each day, gradually improving. 'Who's this dumb broad?' people used to say. But I said: 'You wait. I'll bet she made it.' I liked her very much because she was such a genuine person. And she had a beautiful body which always helps.[11]

"I played a blown up Barbie doll," said Welch later. "I have never appeared completely nude but I don't condemn people who do."[12]

Shortly after filming ended Welch announced she would marry her manager, Patrick Curtis.[13]

Reception[edit]

The Los Angeles Times film critic said that "each new Raquel Welch picture brings further proof that when Maria Montez died they didn't break the mold. Like Maria, Raquel can't act from here to there, but both ladies seem to have been born to be photographed... this sappiest of spy pictures."[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p255
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968, p. 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.
  3. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989; ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p. 230
  4. ^ Reid, John Howard CinemaScope Two: 20th Century-Fox Lulu.com, 2005 p.76
  5. ^ CRIME RATION Richardson, Maurice. The Observer (1901- 2003) [London (UK)] 13 Aug 1967: 16.
  6. ^ Fathom credits
  7. ^ a b c d "Interview with Lorenzo Semple Jr Part 3". Archive of American Television. 25 September 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  8. ^ Revolts Brewing in Britain By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 31 July 1966: 83
  9. ^ Raquel Welch: Living Up to Her Legend Weller, George. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 Sep 1966: N10.
  10. ^ Comedy to Star Newman Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 06 Aug 1966: b11.
  11. ^ Class will tell: DEREK MALCOLM interviews PETER MEDAK, a director who is at last making his impact on the British cinema Malcolm, Derek. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 15 May 1972: 10.
  12. ^ Sex Goddess Is Human, After All Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 9 June 1968: c12.
  13. ^ Raquel Welch Plans To Marry Manager The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 11 Feb 1967: A19.
  14. ^ 'Fathom' Playing on Citywide Screens Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 10 Aug 1967: d16.

External links[edit]