Dr. Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine (1965)

Rating: **
Review Date: 5/23/16
Cast: Vincent Price, Frankie Avalon, Susan Hart, Fred Clark, cameos by Patti Chandler, Annette Funicello

The sex comedy spy spoof was a popular byproduct of the James Bond phenomenon in the 1960's, and Dr. Goldfoot is one of the sillier examples. Dr. Goldfoot (Vincent Price) is a mad scientist who uses his team of bikini-clad robot women to seduce rich men and swindle them out of their fortunes. However, it seems to me that if Dr. Goldfoot has the resources to build these amazing robots in the first place, he's not exactly hurting for cash. I guess some people just want to watch the world burn. When Robot #11 (Susan Hart) mistakenly targets the wrong man, she runs into a bumbling secret agent named Craig Gamble (Frankie Avalon) who falls head-over-heels in love with her. No one believes his wild stories about robot women plotting to take over the world, so he takes it upon himself to expose Dr. Goldfoot's crimes and prove that he's more than just his "Double-O-And-A-Quarter" code-name. This culminates in a zany high speed chase through the streets of San Francisco, with the promise of a sequel.

It's a low budget and low brow affair, and none of it is taken very seriously. Vincent Price appears to be having a ball as the maniacal Dr. Goldfoot, and a smart and sexy Susan Hart devours every scene that she's in. The slapstick is tedious and tiresome, but Frankie Avalon handles the material well and does an admirable job with the various demands of physical comedy. The film includes numerous pop culture references, including a silly cameo by Annette Funicello that breaks the fourth wall, and a parody of Vincent Price's "The Pit And The Pendulum" which actually lifts footage from the original film. The film's climax features some exciting (and dangerous looking) stunt work, but the overbearing silliness of the presentation negates the impact. Actually, I think the best part of the film is the animated opening credits, which are accompanied by a catchy theme song performed by The Supremes. That stuck with me far longer than any other aspect of the film.

The 60's were an interesting time, and the film is a fascinating cultural snapshot of the era. On the surface it's just pure absurdist escapism, but underneath is a rich vein of fear, paranoia, and cynicism. The overall theme is that men are idiots and women are heartless gold-diggers, which is nothing new. Sex is the ultimate weapon that ruins men and brings women into power, and the men in the film are rendered completely helpless and useless when faced with a strong, independent, and sexually empowered woman (regardless of the fact that she may be a robot). This is an interesting reflection of the attitudes towards women and sex at the time, which were steeped in fear and distrust. While such notions seem silly and backwards by today's standards, it's clear that society was truly terrified by the feminist movement, which threatened to shift the balance of power and overthrow the patriarchy. In its own perverse way, the film is both a celebration of female empowerment, as well as a cautionary tale about the evil of women and their vile agenda to take over the world if they're not kept in check. Or perhaps I'm reading too much into it and it's really just a mindless, screwball sex comedy.