Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#1,492. Zeta One (1969)

Directed By: Michael Cort

Starring: James Robertson Justice, Charles Hawtrey, Robin Hawdon

Tag line: "A bedroom romp through the fifth dimension!"

Trivia: This movie was also released as The Love Factor

There are some fine looking women in the 1969 British sci-fi sex comedy Zeta One, all of whom walk around in skimpy outfits (when they’re actually dressed, that is). Like most sex comedies from this period, the movie favors nudity over laughs, but if lots of skin doesn’t do it for you, Zeta One has enough late ‘60s charm to at least make it an interesting watch.

British superspy James Word (Robin Hawdon), who’s just returned home from his latest mission, finds his superior’s pretty secretary, Ann (Yutte Stensgaard), waiting for him in his apartment. Under the pretense of cooking him dinner, Ann tries to get Word to talk about his most recent assignment. After they’ve had a roll in the hay, Word fills Ann in on all the juicy details. He tells her about the Angvians, a group of superwomen led by Zeta (Dawn Addams), whose home world is devoid of men (the Angvians are either aliens from another planet or exist in a different dimension here on earth. We’re never quite sure which). To increase their numbers, they simply abduct earth girls, who are quickly indoctrinated into Angvian society. Among the ladies they’ve set their sights on is Edwina Strain (Wendy Lingham), an exotic dancer. Unfortunately for Zeta, someone else has also been watching Edwina, namely Maj. Bourdon (James Robertson Justice), the villainous leader of a criminal organization intent on destroying the Angvians. Thus far, his attempts to do so have failed, but with Edwina working undercover for him, Bourdon may finally discover the whereabouts of Zeta’s headquarters, clearing the way for him to launch an all-out attack.

It's clear early on that Zeta One was intended to be a James Bond-style spoof, but falls short of the mark mostly because its spy, James Word, doesn’t really figure into the action. Aside from the opening scene in his apartment (the highlight of which is a rousing game of strip poker between him and Ann) and a few other sporadic appearances (including a run-in with a talking elevator, the only sequence in the movie that made me laugh), Word is absent through much of the picture. He doesn’t even take part in the final battle between Bourdon’s henchmen and Zeta’s pasties-wearing hit squad, who, despite their lack of attire, still manage to kick some butt. Yet the film’s various action scenes aren’t its most memorable trait. What stays with you, apart from its collection of scantily-clad females (did I mention they were gorgeous?), is its psychedelic ‘60s vibe. The Angvian headquarters is a sharply angular place lit by multi-colored spotlights, and when the newly-arrived Edwina is “processed”, she’s put through a machine that makes it look as if she’s swimming naked in a lava lamp!

While not much of a spy story, and even less of a comedy, Zeta One is, at the very least, a time capsule of the late ‘60s that, as an added bonus, houses a bevy of buxom, beautiful babes.

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