Matchless (1967)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/25/21
Alternate Title: Mission T.S.
Cast: Patrick O'Neal, Ira von Furstenberg, Donald Pleasence, Henry Silva, Nicoletta Machiavelli

"Here I am, locked in a bank, naked and alone, trying to save the world. Good luck."

Perry Liston (Patrick O'Neal) is a newspaper reporter who escapes a Chinese prison after an old man gives him a ring that makes him invisible. Once he's back in the United States, the government talks him into undertaking a dangerous mission of global importance that involves stealing a vial of mysterious liquid from a shady megalomaniac played by Donald Pleasence. He's assigned to work with a sexy agent named Arabella (Ira von Furstenberg) in Europe, while Henry Silva and Nicoletta Machiavelli scheme to steal his ring. But what's in the vial and why is it so important? The film never reveals that, which leaves the world's superpowers continuing their endless Cold War stalemate.

The film was intended to be a spoof of both James Bond and "Our Man Flint" (1965), but fails miserably and ends up just being dull and uninteresting. The humor is so sparse that when something funny does happen, it seems completely out of place and creates a bit of narrative whiplash. The invisibility gimmick isn't utilized very well and the action scenes are pretty weak for the most part. However, there are a couple of neat shots involving cars driving on trains. The film also makes a point of depicting Americans as obsessive gum chewers, which is a common stereotype that I've never understood. Patrick O'Neal makes a charming and charismatic lead. He's essentially the anti-James Bond, and a victim of circumstance who clumsily fumbles his way through the entire picture with only invisibility and blind luck on his side. Henry Silva's mad intensity is totally off the wall and it's hard to tell if he's insane, on drugs, or just seriously overacting. Donald Pleasence is appropriately eccentric and intimidating, although his character has the tendency to suffer from violent fits of rage. He also employs a mind reader and his castle is tended by goofy robotic servants. Ira von Furstenberg is lovely and quite easy on the eye, but it's Nicoletta Machiavelli who ends up stealing the show as a sexy antagonist. She's extremely alluring, and it's a shame that she only shows up in a handful of scenes. Apart from the pretty ladies and the film's flirty flair for 60's glamour, there's little to recommend in this tepid spy outing.