Fathom (1967)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/15/19
Cast: Raquel Welch, Tony Franciosa

Twentieth Century Fox decided to take a chance and give the immensely popular Raquel Welch her first starring role as a dental hygienist named Fathom Harvill, who also happens to be an expert skydiver. While vacationing in Spain, she is kidnapped and forcefully recruited by a Western intelligence agency called HADES to help retrieve a remote triggering device for an atomic bomb that's gone missing. Naturally, things don't go as planned, and she's framed for murder, shot at, rammed by a speedboat, driven off a cliff, chased by an angry bull, and manipulated and manhandled by just about everyone in the film. Several dangerous parties are interested in the MacGuffin, and none of them are who they seem to be. Can Fathom figure out who the good guys are before it's too late?

The plot of this sexy spy spoof is needlessly convoluted, and only serves to keep Ms. Welch in a constant state of confusion and befuddlement. Thankfully, she's clever and quick-witted, and her drop-dead gorgeous bikini body makes everyone drop their guard and lose their senses. She's simply stunning, and the film revolves entirely around her obvious sex appeal. Unfortunately, all of the male characters are arrogant, lascivious, sexist assholes, which I'm gathering was considered an endearing trait at the time. It's difficult and awkward to watch them interact with Ms. Welch, who tries her best to deflect their appalling behavior and dodge their aggressive advances. While most of the film is devoted to lustful verbal sparring, there are a handful of action scenes that liven things up considerably. One is a scene in a bull-fighting arena where Fathom is being chased by a bull. It's a very harrowing piece, and she even falls and gets stepped on several times, which I'm hoping involved a stunt person. There is also some really incredible aerial photography devoted to the plane chases, boat chases, and skydiving sequences. It's a good looking picture and definitely a "must-see" for Raquel Welch fans, but the material hasn't aged well due to its offensive attitudes and dated gender politics.