Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ray Danton IS "Secret Agent Super Dragon"!

He's secret, he's suave, he's supremely self-satisfied: Meet "Secret Agent Super Dragon" (Ray Danton).

Greetings, movie lovers.

 It is I, The Movie Maven, The Geek Goddess Of Sucky Cinema, with yet another Junk Cinema Jewel that will inspire you to ask, "What was the hold up between postings?"

Well, I had to take an on-line class and I had to help arrange this meeting at church and then I had to dig out my garage because my washer tanked and I had to buy a new one...oh, forget it. Let's make with the movies, OK?

Released in 1966 under the combined producing skills of French, Spanish and Italian investors, I give you the latest entry in cut-rate, lame-o James Bond rip-off sweepstakes, "Secret Agent Super Dragon"!

Just like 007, Secret Agent Super Dragon (played by the irritatingly smug Ray Danton) works for a secret government spy agency, has a cranky boss, gets all kissy-face with an adoring secretary (named Comfort Denby), has a goofy sidekick, loves smart-ass puns and is never short of futuristic gadgets he can whip out when the going gets tough.

Oh, yes, and "Secret Agent Super Dragon" also has a super villain who heads up a super evil organization that intends to rule the world via a secret drug called "Synchron."

The frozen-faced Fernand Lamas (Carlo D'Angelo) is Super Dragon's super nemesis.

 Allow me to explain.

Synchron is colorless and tasteless, like the former host of "American Idol", Ryan Seacrest. When added to food and drink products, people become instantly addicted. What's more, since our movie's baddies secretly add Synchron to food and drink products, people have no idea what has been done to them. But that's not all! Once hooked on Synchron, its victims are A) prone to acting supremely nutty until they become B) crazed, violent lunatics before C) suddenly dropping dead.

The good news is there is an anti-dote to Synchron called (of all things) Anti-Synchron. The bad news is that our evil meanies refuse to share it. That is not only super mean, but also super selfish.

Like any top flight evil organization that wants to rule the world via addicting mass quantities of people, our Euro-trash villains test market Synchron in the sleepy college town of Fremont, Michigan. How is the test marketing carried out? By covertly lacing batches of chewing gum with Synchron and selling the tainted stuff to college kids. Once the co-eds start sampling the lethal gum, all hell breaks loose. Delighted by the devastating results, our villains plan the next phase of their roll out.

Secretary Comfort Denby (Margaret Lee) and her bouffant reporting for duty.

The inexplicable behavior of the (secretly) addicted college gum chewers alerts The Authorities that something is rotten in Fremont. One Agent Jackson is sent to investigate, but he suffers a fatal car crash on "a canyon road" outside of Fremont. Adding a touch of mystery to Agent Jackson's death is that A) the other person in the car, a female named Christine Brooder, is no where to be found and B) there are no canyon roads in Fremont, Michigan (many thanks to IMDB for this info).

Now you are probably wondering where Secret Agent Super Dragon is. Well, he's on vacation--and he's in no mood to cut things short just because of the strange things going on in Michigan. However, because Agent Jackson was his friend, Super Dragon eventually decides to poke around a bit just to be nice.

What our hero discovers is that Christine Brooder is a Dutch party girl who supplied the most popular college hang-out in Fremont with a new type of gum. Strangely, the manager of this hang-out refuses to sample this gum, even after Super Dragon tries to cram a piece in his mouth. Seconds later, this fellow is shot in front of Super Dragon. Moving right along, Super Dragon pays a visit to Christine's apartment and finds a picture of Fernand Lamas (Carlo D'Angelo), a mysterious art dealer, on her side table. Then a no-good-nick in a turtle neck bursts in and tries to kill Super Dragon. Our hero manages to subdue this guy, but he chooses to off himself rather than answer any of Super Dragon's questions about Christine or her gum.

All of this convinces Super Dragon that he must head over to Amsterdam, Christine's home town. His boss agrees, but balks when the agent insists a chap named Baby Face (Jess Hahn) must accompany him. See, Baby Face is a goofy inventor, but he's also a crook currently serving a five year sentence in Sing Sing. It's only after Super Dragon pinkie swears he will return Baby Face to Sing Sing once their mission is accomplished that the duo are allowed to head over to swingin' Amsterdam (hey, it's 1966, everybody was swingin').

Unusual for an international man of mystery, Super Dragon speaks no Dutch. However, he has no language barrier with his Dutch contact Rembrandt 13, a slinky red head. It is she who accompanies him to Fernand Lamas' place to learn more about the still missing Christine. Turns out Christine and the frozen-faced Lamas were quite a fun couple--until Fernand dumped her when she "began to drug herself" and hasn't seen her since. As Fernand is very busy planning a high society charity art auction, the agents take their leave. Later on, at Rembrandt 13's flat, another no-good-nick barges in and tries to kill Super Dragon. Of course, our hero dispatches this goon with a few judo chops and then casually tosses him out the window. Business concluded, Super Dragon returns to his primary objective, which was making out with Rembrandt 13.

 Secret Agent Super Dragon and Rembrandt 13 debrief.

A bit later, Super Dragon and Rembrandt 13 discover that Christine Brooder is in a local clinic suffering from an unknown malady. The agents arrive just in time for the sweaty, goggle-eyed Christine to gasp, "I don't want to've got to help me...Anti-Synchron, please!" before expiring.

Christine's tortured death so rattles Rembrandt 13 that she runs out of the clinic and straight to the office of...Fernand Lamas!

"Christine is dead!" the hysterical agent declares. "You killed her by refusing her the anti-dote! After all she had done for you! And now the same will happen to me!"

The frozen-faced Lamas coolly agrees that Rembrandt 13 could share Christine's fate--especially if she fails to "eliminate" Secret Agent Super Dragon.

"I don't want to kill anybody!" Rembrandt 13 sputters. "Until now, I have done everything for you, even against my will! You have got to keep your promise and free me from this drug!"

The mysterious Christine Brooder succumbs to her lethal chewing gum addiction.

Well, well, well. This is an interesting plot twist, isn't it kiddies? What could possibly happen next?

Hmmmm. Could Rembrandt 13 send Super Dragon to an obscure address, where he could be jumped by a gang of goons, placed in a coffin and then dumped into the sea? Thanks to his secret agent training, Super Dragon is able to hold his breath or put himself into suspended animation (I can't remember which) until Baby Face arrives to fish him out of the drink.

With the super villains now convinced that Super Dragon is super dead, "Secret Agent Super Dragon" plows full speed ahead into its final act.

Remember that high society art auction evil Mr. Lamas told our agents about? Well, the big night finally arrives. Because the guests are required to wear masks, Baby Face, Comfort and (most importantly) Super Dragon can mingle among the swells unrecognized. As the auction commences, Super Dragon notices the bidders on a series of Ming vases all seem strangely alike. Specifically, they all wear black tuxes and wear the same type of mask. So he follows one, knocks him out, takes his mask, swipes the black eraser he had on his person and seamlessly takes his place at a secret meeting chaired by Mr. Lamas in another part of his mansion.

Turns out, the Ming vase owners are all operatives (or investors) in Lamas' super evil organization. Their vases have been coated with Synchron and, after they are melted down, the drug can be extracted--and then slipped into the food, drink and chewing gum products of the unsuspecting population at large.

"I can't take you anywhere!": Secret Agent Super Dragon schools Baby Face in high society etiquette. 

To show his investors/operatives what a great deal Synchron is, Lamas has gals dressed in sexy French maid costumes pour his guests Synchron-laced bubbly. From hidden cameras, the baddies watch as the high society attendees begin to act like drunk revelers at an out-of-control Shriner's convention. But don't worry; Lamas has doused the hooch with a non-addictive amount of Synchron.

Baby Face and Comfort, meanwhile, were advised ahead of time not to eat or drink anything at the shin-dig. Amid the mayhem, Comfort attempts to swipe some of the Synchron-laced champagne for analysis, only to be caught by Rembrandt 13. She's marched (at gun point) to another part of the mansion and turned over to Lamas' goons. They force her to strip down to her skivvies so she can be given an "electricity bath". Luckily, Super Dragon hears her screams and rushes in to save the day.

What follows next is a nail biting cat-and-mouse shoot out between Lamas and Super Dragon. Unexpectedly entering the fray is Rembrandt 13, who is ordered by Lamas to shoot Super Dragon. She shoots Lamas instead. The baddie, in a fit of pique, proceeds to shoot the slinky agent. As she crumbles to the floor, Super Dragon catches her in his arms. Rembrandt 13 confesses all, including her addiction to Synchron. "I know, I know, sweetheart," Super Dragon murmurs as she fades away.

 Leaving Rembrandt 13 in a lifeless heap, Super Dragon tracks down the evil (but fatally bleeding) Lamas. The baddie taunts the secret agent, claiming that the antidote to Synchron will die with him and that his operatives will carry on his dirty work. Not so fast, Super Dragon informs Lamas. He has a copy of the antidote(don't ask how)--and even people already addicted to Synchron will be saved. Ultimately foiled in his evil plans, the dying Lamas emits an anguished "D'oh!" and drops dead.

"Secret Agent Super Dragon" ends, as all secret agent movies must, with our hero canoodling in a hotel room with an unnamed cuddlemate. He's also on the phone to Comfort. The Anti-Synchron antidote is working wonders. Governments of the world are pleased as punch; awards and decorations are pouring in for Super Dragon. However, our hero is in no hurry to rush home to collect them. Super Dragon wants to remain in Amsterdam and enjoy the sights-- if you know what I mean. And Baby Face? He won't be returning to Sing Sing anytime soon, either. He's out fishing with a local family. When Comfort begins to protest, Super Dragon says their connection is breaking up and hangs up the phone. He then turns his attention to his Dutch treat, safe in the knowledge that the world's chewing gum is safe and sound. Zo lang uit Amsterdam! (So long from Amsterdam!).

"Get me out of this movie or I'll shoot!": Rembrandt 13 resorts to desperate measures to end her--and the audiences'--agony.

At first glance, "Secret Agent Super Dragon" appears to have all the necessary ingredients to create a decent spy thriller. However, once those ingredients are mixed together and set to boil, the end result is a doughy, fetid stew that sticks in your throat and makes you gag.

Ray Danton as Super Dragon is lean, handsome and flexible as hell, thanks to all his yoga. Unfortunately, he's also smug, stuck-up and supremely self-satisfied. Danton also has a serious personal warmth problem--namely, he doesn't have any. All of this creates a main character you can barely tolerate, let alone root for to save the world.

Furthermore, Super Dragon has the annoying habit of snatching cigarettes--including those already dangling from a person's lips-- and smoking them himself. This is not only unhealthy, but gross. It is also another example of an actor (and character) fatally convinced of his own coolness. Indeed, Ray struts around this movie more self-satisfied than Parnell Roberts in "San Francisco International"--the gold standard of cinematic insufferability.. It should come as no surprise that this was Danton's first and last attempt at playing a sexy, globe-trotting secret agent. The failure of "Secret Agent Super Dragon" to unseat (or rival) 007 would ensure Danton took his rightful place next to such luminaries as Mike "Mannix" Connors, Stewart Granger, Peter Mark Richmond and Gordon Scott (to name but a few) in the very long line of secret agent super flops.

Women--even in the more recent Bond films--primarily exist in secret agent movies to model the latest fashions and hit the sheets with their hero. The females in "Secret Agent Super Dragon" are no exception. The difference here is that the ladies vying for Super Dragon's attention--Comfort Denby and Rembrandt 13--hate each other and spend an inordinate amount of screen time making nasty cracks about their rival's figure and (gasp!) hair color.

"I bet that red hair came out of a bottle," Comfort snips after she sees Rembrandt 13 waltz off with Super Dragon.

"Mind if I smoke?": Super Dragon lights up while Rembrandt 13 smolders (it was her cigarette, after all).

"So that's 'the Joker'" Rembrandt 13 snaps when Baby Face describes the secretary as "a real luscious blond."

In the end, of course, Super Dragon stiffs both these gals for a cute blond in a nightie (sharp-eyed viewers will recognize her from an earlier bit in the film).

As for "Secret Agent Super Dragon"s plot about an evil organization secretly drugging the world via Synchron: Who are these people? What's their organization's name? What is their mission statement? How did Fernand Lamas become their leader? And what's his story? The movie never tells us any of this. In even the worst James Bond movies, the screenwriters at least had the decency to clue us in as to why SPECTRE or the Commies were after the nuclear sub or special ray gun or whatever. In "Secret Agent Super Dragon", the audience is left to their own devices to guess why the baddies were acting so bad. And if the screenwriters didn't care, why should we?

The only good thing about "Secret Agent Super Dragon" is that I can cross it off the list of hysterical James Bond rip-offs I have challenged myself to seek out and watch. Up next: "Hammerhead" with Vince Edwards. Anyone now where I could find a copy?

Until next time movie lovers, I'll try not to have have such a gap between posts if you'll join me and SAVE THE MOVIES.

Ray Danton phones in the rest of his Super Dragon performance.