Sunday, June 29, 2008

"The Nude Bomb"

As much as I did enjoy the latest film based on the GET SMART series, I quickly realized one thing: I'll forever miss Don Adams. Credit goes to Steve Carell for not completely trying to ape Adams' brilliance and lending his own style to the role, but still...

The good thing when it comes to remakes is that the mass audience hasn't the slightest clue that their witnessing a remake (that's not the good part) and Hollywood must then tap into the exploitive vein by reissuing those prior influences (the good part). As is the case with Universal's big screen 1980 film, THE NUDE BOMB.

The VHS has been out of print for several years (I should know since I sold it for a nice chunk o' change on eBay a long while back) and this is the first release to DVD. Over the past few months, the film has received a few airings on HBO and I've caught fragments of it, causing me to want to see it again. It was never a great film, doomed from the start by it's lack of connection to the original series, but it is a chance to see Adams revisit his iconic character of Maxwell Smart, which, to me, is worth the price of admission alone.

Upon purchasing the DVD and viewing the film all over again, it still seems like a combination of light-hearted and somewhat half-assed entertainment, yet now with Adams' passing a few years ago, the end result is bittersweet. If handled properly (i.e. employing the talents of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry in some capacity), this film could have been greatness. Adams wins all the laughs here (not too many, really) and his fellow female agents, played by Andrea Howard, Pamela Hensley and Sylvia Kristel, are definite eye candy. Kristel receives second billing here, but is barely used (not in that way) and her role here is a direct result of her appearance in the previous Jennings Lang production, THE CONCORDE: AIRPORT '79.

My favorite moments of this film still hold up. Without question, the chase sequence taking place at Universal City Studios is the one element that grabbed me when I first saw the film as a kid. For me, Universal City Studios spells PSYCHO and JAWS and you get to see a bit of both here. My other favorite scene involves Agent 86 attempting to rescue Agent 22 (Howard) in the film's finale. 22's legs are "numb" and is helpless to run away, from the mere-moments-away explosion, on her own. 86 lifts her up into his arms, exclaiming, "Jesus!" as he cannot hold her weight. She begins to fall through his arms while he continues "trying" to help by unsuccessfully lifting her over his shoulders, faintly pushing her and eventually resigning to dragging her across the floor. Finally, she says, "Max, I think I'm getting some feeling down there!" to which 86 brilliantly responds, "There's no time for that now, 22." Dead-pan, uncomfortably awkward comedy. I loves it!

The DVD boasts a fine 1.85:1 transfer with the original mono soundtrack intact, unfortunately there are no supplemental features available. The theatrical trailer would have been nice.

Also, I've often wondered if this film served as some sort of inspiration to David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker when titling the big screen adaptation of their POLICE SQUAD! series, THE NAKED GUN. Probably not the case, but an interesting comparison.

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