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Film Review: Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)

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SYNOPSIS:

Dr. Goldfoot has invented an army of bikini-clad robots who are programmed to seek out wealthy men and charm them into signing over their assets. Craig Gamble and Todd Armstrong set out to foil the fiendish plot.

REVIEW:

Our journey into b-movie madness takes us back to 1965 when Frankie Avalon was king of the beach party movies. He was kind of a hot commodity among young adults, so it’s no surprise he showed up a lot of movies and television shows that tried to capitalize on his popularity and his clean-cut image. It’s why he ended up in movies like Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.

This particular slice of American cheese is about the evil Dr. Goldfoot (Vincent Price) and his plan to build an army of female androids to seduce wealthy men and rob them of all their wealth. He’s “helped” by Igor, since all mad scientists must have an assistant named Igor, in his quest. A bumbling secret agent named Craig Gamble (Avalon), along with an equally bumbling would-be-victim of Dr. Goldfoot, end up being the only ones in a position to stand in his way.

Sean Connery’s James Bond movies had been tearing up the screens every year since 1962, being released with a clockwork regularity that would make the Call of Duty game series jealous. Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine was clearly meant to spoof the popular spy genre, going so far as having Avalon’s character have the designation of “Double O and a Half”. On top of the plethora of scantily clad women and the ridiculous plan of Dr. Goldfoot, it’s actually a fairly decent lampoon of the tropes of the Bond movie in that regard. Having the main character be kind of an idiot is, of course, meant to be the complete opposite of how ridiculously competent Bond is at everything he does. However, as far as spoofs go, it did miss making fun of a few details from the 007’s adventures. For instance, it doesn’t make fun of the increasingly ridiculous gadgets that we tend to associate with the character, or even make attempts at poking fun at Bond’s penchant for one-liners. (Though, one could argue that the gadgets part of the equation hadn’t hit truly absurd heights until Roger Moore’s era).

The main problem you’ll find with the movie is that for a comedy, it’s as funny as it could be. Dr. Goldfoot’s assistant, Igor, is there to be dumb and withstand Goldfoot’s verbal abuse whenever he screws something up, which is often. Every gag involving him feels stale even by 1960s standard. Frankie Avalon’s Craig Gamble is not much better than Igor. He’s the epitome of every hero you’ve seen that’s a bumbling but well-meaning idiot. He’s like Austin Powers in that regard, if Austin Powers had a boring personality and wasn’t funny. The only thing about the character that’ll make you chuckle is Avalon’s overacting. Adding to the film’s problems is that most of the gags are predictable, making you feel like someone’s telling you a joke that you already know the punchline too.

The one thing that may actually make you laugh is Vincent Price himself. Price seemed to be having a lot of fun with his role as Dr. Goldfoot. He occasionally hammed it up but seemed to know when the right time to do it for maximum comedic effect. His reaction shots to Igor’s screw-ups are hysterical, as are the looks he gets on his face. His verbal tirades against his foolish assistant are some of the best lines in the movie (although granted, it’s not like the bar for quips had been set particularly high). Whenever he’s on screen, the quality of dialogue improves to the point that it’s like he’s reading from a different script entirely. Price was absolutely wonderful here, never giving a lesser performance despite the fact that the movie itself was quite silly. He single-handedly saves the entire film from being terrible.

While the story itself is subject to some plot holes, and the script could have used some more polish, the finished product is kind of enjoyable. I’m not going to pretend like it’s a great movie or anything, but it still manages to be pretty fun. This movie wouldn’t be as nearly as entertaining without Vincent Price, however, and he pretty much is the only reason to sit through Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. I think it’s worth checking out. Apparently, Rob Zombie thinks so too, or why else would he reference the movie in the song “Living Dead Girl”?

On another note:

Is it me, or does it seem like this film had a huge influence on the first Austin Powers movie? After all, it does center on a villain who is making female robots for his own evil ends.

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