Cast & Crew
Ira Von Fürstenberg
Mistaken for a spy by the Communist Chinese, New York journalist Perry "Matchless" Liston is tortured to obtain information about a lethal chemical substance. An elderly Oriental with whom he shares a cell gives Liston a ring that, when rubbed, makes him invisible for a short period of time. With the ring's help, he escapes from a Chinese firing squad but lands in the U. S. military's torture chamber for his presumed knowledge about the same chemical. He reluctantly agrees to assist U. S. intelligence forces in recovering the formula as well as samples of the substance held by Andreanu, a sinister international gangster. Aided by agent Arabella, whom he meets in London, Liston plots to get the material out of a Munich bank, but he encounters competition from foreign agent Tipsy and American traitor Hank Norris. Eventually Liston succeeds in extracting the formula and samples by employing the magical ring. Not trusting even the U. S. military with the dangerous information, Liston throws everything into the harbor at Hamburg. Unknown to Arabella, however, Liston keeps the magic ring.
Ira Von Fürstenberg
Howard St. John
Dino De Laurentiis
Enzo Del Prato
Gino Marinuzzi Jr.
In the title role, Patrick O'Neal is not really a professional spy. He's actually a reporter from The New York Tribune who signs his columns with the byline of "Matchless." While on assignment in China, he is captured and tortured in a secret prison by Chinese agents who think he possesses top-secret information about a lethal chemical substance. He miraculously escapes a firing squad only to end up imprisoned by American military intelligence who are after the same thing. Considering his limited options, Liston agrees to masquerade as a secret agent for the U.S., teaming up with fellow spy Arabella (Ira von Furstenberg). Their mission leads them to the lair of international criminal Andreanu (Donald Pleasence) who keeps samples of the deadly chemical in a Munich bank. Complicating their assignment are Hank Norris (Henry Silva) and Tipsy (Nicoletta Machiavelli), rival spies for the Chinese.
Matchless is less a spy spoof than a fantasy adventure with sci-fi overtones. Besides the 'Invisible Man' gimmick, there are Andreanu's household of robotic servants including a black cyborg attendant named Charles, centrifugal force spinners used as torturing devices, and the post-operative results of "Operation Plastic Surgery" - Chinese and American agents who have had their facial features altered in order to infiltrate the enemy's ranks. And since Matchless was made in the midst of the sixties spy craze, there are plenty of gorgeous women to ogle. Ira von Furstenberg - a European Princess making her screen debut here - gets to sport a flashy wardrobe (one 'evening wear' outfit accents her bare midriff) but co-star Nicoletta Machiavelli makes an even stronger impression, particularly in the sequence where she drops from the sky via helicopter onto Andreanu's estate, clad in a silver metallic suit. It looks like something out of Fantomas (1913-14) or Les Vampires (1915-16), the fantasy serials of film director Louis Feuillade.
The director of Matchless - Alberto Lattuada - may sound familiar to you. That's because he co-directed Variety Lights with Federico Fellini in 1950 and has worked on numerous Italian and European films including Mafioso (1962) and Stay As You Are (1978) starring Marcello Mastroianni and Natassia Kinski in her first starring role. While Matchless is certainly not Lattuada's best work, it's still a lot of fun and more entertaining than most James Bond imitations. Not only does it boast a catchy music score by Ennio Morricone and Gino Marinuzzi, Jr. but it features a wide range of interesting locations, spanning the globe from New York (glimpses from the top of the Pan Am building, the Brooklyn Bridge and the subway) to London to Munich. The special effects are goofy (how about that scene where Arabella is carried down a corridor by the invisible "Matchless"?) and Mike Myers of the Austin Powers films would love the pop-art opening credit sequence, set amid an array of multicolored test tubes and beakers filled with bubbling liquids.
Producer: Luigi Carpentieri, Ermanno Donati
Director: Alberto Lattuada
Screenplay: Alberto Lattuada, Luigi Malerba, Mario Pierotti, Jack Pulman
Production Design: Gisella Longo
Cinematography: Alessandro D'Eva
Costume Design: Piero Tosi
Film Editing: Franco Fraticelli
Original Music: Gino Marinuzzi, Jr., Ennio Morricone, Piero Piccioni
Principal Cast: Patrick O'Neal (Perry "Matchless" Liston), Ira von Furstenberg (Arabella), Donald Pleasence (Andreanu), Henry Silva (Hank Norris), Sorrell Booke (Colonel Coolpepper), Howard St. John (General Shapiro), Tipsy (Nicoletta Machiavelli), Elisabetta Wu (O-Lan).
By Jeff Stafford
Location scenes filmed in Rome, Munich, and Hamburg. Opened in Rome in September 1967 under the English title; running time: 105 min. Dean Craig is a pseudonym for Mario Pierotti.
Released in United States 1966
Released in United States 1966