The Ambushers (film)

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The Ambushers
The Ambushers film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Robert McGinnis
Directed by Henry Levin
Produced by Irving Allen
Written by Donald Hamilton (novel)
Herbert Baker (screenplay)
Starring Dean Martin
Senta Berger
Music by Herbert Baker
Hugo Montenegro
Cinematography Edward Colman, ASC
Burnett Guffey, ASC
Edited by Harold F. Kress
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
December 22, 1967
Running time
102 min
Country United States
Language English
Box office $10,000,000[1]

The Ambushers is a 1967 spy comedy film filmed in Acapulco starring Dean Martin, Senta Berger and Janice Rule. It is loosely based upon the novel of the same name by Donald Hamilton as well as The Menacers that featured UFOs and a Mexican setting. When a government-built flying saucer is hijacked mid-flight by Jose Ortega, the exiled ruler for an outlaw nation, secret agent Matt Helm and the ship's former pilot Sheila Sommers are sent to recover it.

Plot[edit]

Helm is sent to the ICE (Intelligence and Counter Espionage) Training Headquarters to uncover a traitor in the organisation. Whilst there he meets ICE agent Sheila Sommers, the pilot of the saucer who has been recovered from a Central American jungle with no memory of what happened to the saucer she flew. Due to the electo-magnetic power of the saucer, only a woman is able to fly it, males of the species are killed by the energy.

Helm had worked with Sommers on an assignment where the two had posed as man and wife. When Sommers meets Helm, her memory comes back. Mac, the head of ICE, decides to send Helm and Sommers posing again as his wife undercover as a photographer doing a story on the Montezuma Beer Brewery, whose advertising jingle is the same tune as the anthem of Ortega's political movement.

Along the way, they must deal with Ortega's henchmen, Francesca Madeiros (an operative for Big O, Helm's main nemesis), who poses as a model and seduces Helm, an assassin named Nassim, plus a tough thug named Rocco.

Themes[edit]

The film was the third of four produced in the late 1960s starring Martin as secret agent Matt Helm. It followed The Silencers and Murderers' Row and like those earlier films followed the approach of being a spoof of the James Bond film series rather than a straight adaptation of Hamilton's novel. It was followed by one more, The Wrecking Crew in 1969.

Cast[edit]

Actor Role
Dean Martin Matt Helm
Senta Berger Francesca Madeiros
Janice Rule Sheila Sommers
James Gregory MacDonald
Albert Salmi Jose Ortega
Kurt Kasznar Quintana
Beverly Adams Lovey Kravezit
John Brascia Rocco

Reception[edit]

This film is generally considered the weakest of the four Helm films, and is cited in the book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time by Harry and Michael Medved. The Medveds also cited a review of The Ambushers by critic Judith Crist which stated: "The sole distinction of this vomitous mess is that it just about reaches the nadir of witlessness, smirky sexiness and bad taste - and it's dull, dull, dull to boot."[2]

Box office[edit]

The film earned North American rentals of $4.7 million in 1968.[3]

Soundtrack[edit]

Hugo Montenegro became the third composer in as many films to do the score for the series. He wrote (along with Herbert Baker who worked on Murderer's Row) the theme song, "The Ambushers," which featured the vocals of Boyce & Hart, two of the songwriters from Murderer's Row. Montenegro went on to compose the score solo for the next Matt Helm film, The Wrecking Crew.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Ambushers, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Bombs",The Saint Petersburg Times, September 15, 1978 (p.16 D).
  3. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.

External links[edit]