SPY SQUAD (1961)
aka Capture That Capsule
Article 2218 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-12-2007
Posting Date: 9-8-2007
Directed by Will Zens
Featuring Richard Jordahl, Pat Bradley, Richard Miller
Communist spies try to get their hands on the capsule of a downed rocket that will give them important information. Unbeknownst to them, the capsule was actually planted by CIA agents who have planted a homing device inside in the hopes that the spies will lead them to their boss.
This is either the single most dunderheaded spy movie ever made, or one of the most slyly subtle comedies to pop up on my list in some time. Yet, despite the wealth of evidence against it, I suspect it’s the former. It’s directed by Will Zens, who I’m mostly familiar with for having directed a dead-in-the-water military drama called THE STARFIGHTERS, and this movie certainly reminds me of it at times, with its wealth of conversational dialogue that goes nowhere. Despite the fact that the Russian spies speak perfect colloquial English, they still call each other “Comrade” on every occasion, and one repeatedly uses the word “cotton-pickin'” as well. These are some of the most hapless spies I’ve ever seen, what with their internal bickering and their ability to find the most absurd obstacles possible, including run-ins with the Department of Game and Fish, a fatal encounter with a bathing beauty with a spear gun, the theft of the capsule by an eight-year-old boy looking for his pet snake, and being dragged into a cocktail party by an over-eager hostess. The supposedly-valuable capsule looks like a painted conical road marker, and it’s treated with such disdain by everyone who gets near it that it’s hard to believe it’s supposed to be valuable. After a while, the hilarious absurdity of the thing becomes its great strength; it just gets funnier as it goes along. The fantastic content is extremely slight if there’s any at all, though, and even though IMDB lists Dick Miller in the cast, the movie bills someone named Richard Miller who is a totally different person. If you like your bad movies funny, this one is recommended.