Turkey Slices, Part II

Naked advertising in The Nude Bomb

Published: Oct 13 2013, 01:01:am

May, 1980
THE NUDE BOMB. Written by Arne Sultan, Bill Dana and Leonard B. Stern. [CBS-TV series: 1965-70] Music by Lalo Schifrin, Directed by Clive Donner. Running time: 94 minutes. Mature entertainment with the Classifier's warning: occasional nudity and coarse language.

WHEN WE LAST HEARD from Maxwell Smart, he was just getting used to fatherhood. During the fourth season of the Get Smart TV show, Agent 86 (Don Adams) wed Agent 99 (Barbara  Feldon) and before long there was an addition to their C.O.N.T.R.O.L.  team.
     Get Smart was TV's response to the mid-1960s superspy craze. Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, the show spoofed James Bond for five seasons (1965-70) before relinquishing its timeslot to the adventures of The Interns.
     I see by the calendar that it's 1980. The sudden appearance of The Nude Bomb ("See Maxwell Smart as Agent 86 in his first motion picture") raises a number of pertinent
(and a few impertinent) questions.

     The film introduces old Max as an employee of the Provisional Intelligence Tactical Service (PITS ). So what happened to C.O.N.T.R.O.L. ?
     His support team consists of several attractive numbers, among them 36 (Pamela Hensley), 22 (Andrea Howard) and 34 (Sylvia Kristel), There's no mention of 99 (Mrs. 86) nor of the product of their multiplication.
     Much of the script is given over to the expected "would you believe . . . " set-ups and reminders that we're faced with "the old recycled inspiration trick." Does anyone actually laugh at these formula jokes anymore?
     Max's mission is to stop the evil Norman Saint-Sauvage (Vittorio Gassman), a demented fashion designer who plans to re-dress the world after first rendering it naked with his fabric-destroying nude bomb.
     The real question is "why?"  
     Not "why is Maxwell Smart this?" or "why is Saint-Sauvage that?" but why make a movie based on a 10-year-old comedy series, a series whose time is long past?
     I think I have the answer: It's the old subtle plug for the studio tour trick.
     By now everyone has seen the commercial message that appears at the end of any film distributed by Universal Pictures. "When in Southern California, visit Universal City." It's so familiar that we hardly even notice it anymore. Some projectionists even close the curtain before the studio tour ad reaches the screen.
     Would you believe that the largest single sequence in The Nude Bomb involves the Universal Studios tour? Bruce, the Jaws shark, Battlestar Galactica's Cylon warriors and the Bates mansion  from Psycho all make appearances. And this plug appears in the middle of the movie.
     Get Smart fanatics — there are cults for everything these days — will be delighted to have Max back. For the non-would-you-believers, though, the naked truth about The Nude Bomb is that it is just that: a bomb.

The above is a restored version of a Province review by Michael Walsh originally published in 1980. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.

AFTERWORD: Did I say that Max was past his best-before date? In 1989, despite the financial failure of The Nude Bomb, Don Adams' Agent 86 was back working for C.O.N.T.R.O.L. (and acknowledging his marital status) in the made-for-TV movie Get Smart, Again! Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) was back, joining him on a mission to save the world from a mad publisher's plot to force people to read books. Then, in 2006, using the old series reboot trick, director Peter (My Fellow Americans) Segal released a commercially successful Get Smart feature. Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway starred as the 21st century 86 and 99. 

THANKSGIVING TURKEY LINKS: The Addams Family (1991); Car 54, Where Are You? (1994); Coneheads (1993); The Flintstones (1994).