Genghis Khan

A fascinating masterpiece on the rise of the Mongol nation in the person of Temujin, whose later name is bestowed by the Emperor of China and means “Prince of Conquerors”.

He unifies the tribes, travels to China, conquers most of Asia from “the Mongol heartland”, bequeaths a dynasty of Khans and Moghuls.

The primitive scene is established for nearly half the film, creating the strangeness of civilized China. A Borgesian view of savages and mandarins forms the background of this, Temujin is neither, strictly speaking.

A dry, favorable view of him as putting down the slave trade, treating women well, ending the tribal wars.

A film of subtle contrasts and shadings somewhat too fine for critics. “Occasionally trite script” (Variety), “hackneyed persiflage” (A.H. Weiler, New York Times), “meandering epic” yet somehow “reasonably watchable” (Halliwell’s Film Guide). None observed that the final battle is largely based on Olivier’s Henry V.


Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die

A Chinese plot to end “the age of American domination” hinges on a mogul’s “sterility apparatus”, a satellite with a radioactive green ray that eradicates desire.

American and British agents in Rio follow the case to a laboratory and missile silo in the jungle.

The plan backfires on the Reds, the whole world is secretly the target. Only the mogul is to be spared, and the mistresses he’s placed in suspended animation.

It begins with a fight around, in and on the statue of Christ overlooking the city, topping Hitchcock and Fellini as the American agent is lifted away on a helicopter’s rope ladder.


Murderers’ Row

A British Intelligence agent at Monte Carlo, a French agent in a discotheque, a Japanese agent in his bath, all murdered by Big O. Matt Helm is next, scorched while tipping into his pool-sized bathtub.

An American scientist’s superheliobeam can destroy “an army, a city, a continent”, Big O has kidnapped him for it.

Operation Scorch is designed to obliterate Washington, D.C.

Helm (not dead but toasted by girls in black) finds his contact on the Riviera stuffed in her own refrigerator, he’s accused. He goes to the discotheque where she was the star attraction and meets her charming friend, the scientist’s daughter (Ann-Margret).

Julian Wall (Karl Malden) and Coco Duquette (Camilla Sparv) are the Big O masterminds. There is a double agent in ICE, Furness (Frank Gerstle).

Helm’s cover identity has a second level, false files planted for Furness’s inspection claim he’s a top assassin for the mob in Chicago.

Variety and the New York Times were alike mystified.


The Ambushers

A world-spinning work of amusement, intrigue and drollery. The U.S. Government launches a flying saucer flown by women, fatal to men. Caselius (Albert Salmi) filches it with a levitating ray he calls the Iron Lady. A Mexican brewery (Olé) serves as his front. Senta Berger is an international government agent (Big O) in quest of the saucer.

The genius casting puts Janice Rule at the saucer controls, Matt Helm (none other than Dean Martin) goes south of the border to fetch the dingus.