Directed By: Clive Donner
Starring: Don Adams, Andrea Howard, Sylvia Kristel
Tag line: "Would you believe... Maxwell Smart goes undercover to expose a plot to make the world naked?"
Trivia: When this film premiered on US television in 1982, it was re-titled as 'The Return of Maxwell Smart' and was broadcast on the NBC Network
My father was a fan of the ‘60s TV series Get Smart. So, in 1980, when The Nude Bomb, a film based on that show, was released, he was first in line to see it, and brought my brother and I along with him as well.
I hadn’t even thought about this movie in 30 years until I saw the DVD for it sitting on a shelf at my local FYE store. Thinking it might be fun to re-live a bit of the past, I decided to buy it.
Yeah, that was a mistake. The Nude Bomb may not contain any actual nudity (it was rated PG), but man, is it a bomb!
Don Adams returns as Agent 86, who, despite being the clumsiest spy in the entire organization, always gets his man. So, when the terrorist group KAOS again threatens the world’s security, the Chief (Dana Elcar) assigns Agent 86 to the case. With the help of his new team, including camouflage specialist Agent 22 (Andrea Howard); gadgets coordinator Carruthers (Normal Lloyd); the sultry Agent 36 (Pamela Hensley); and a twin brother and sister duo (Gary Imhoff and Sarah Rush) who are computer experts, Agent 86 attempts to thwart masked KAOS leader Norman Saint Sauvage and his associate, Nino Salvatori Sebastiani (Vittorio Gassman), who intend to detonate a series of bombs that will vaporize every stitch of clothing on the planet. By doing so, Sauvage, a frustrated fashion designer, hopes to force the governments of the world to buy his specialized clothing line, but with Agent 86 on the case, Sauvage’s designs could just as well end up on the discount rack.
The original Get Smart series sprang from the creative minds of Buck Henry (The Graduate) and Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein), and was an often hilarious spoof of the James Bond / 007 franchise, poking fun at everything from Bond’s suave demeanor to the amazing gadgets that helped him on his missions (a running joke involved Agent 86’s “shoe phone”, which usually rang at the worst times). Unfortunately, neither Brooks nor Henry were on-hand for The Nude Bomb (the film’s script was written by Arne Sultan, Bill Dana, and Leonard Stern), and their absence is evident from the get-go (the opening credit sequence, designed to spoof the stylish Bond openings, is a painfully unfunny mix of slapstick and sight gags). Don Adams does what he can as Agent 86, but his pratfalls soon wear thin, and even the gadgets lack imagination (he has his shoe phone, of course, but a scene in which his desk transforms into a car is just plain goofy).
I laughed twice during this recent viewing of The Nude Bomb; once early, when Agent 22, after disappearing into thin air, still carries on a conversation with the Chief (confusing the hell out of Agent 86); and later, when Agent 86, in Austria to interrogate Sebastiani’s ex-wife (played by Rhonda Fleming), is driving down the road with foreign counterpart Agent 34 (Sylvia Kristel) and encounters a danger sign with “Achtung” and a skull and crossbones on it (“Just our luck” Agent 86 says after noticing the sign. “We gotta run into a poisonous Achtung”). I also liked the chase scene that interrupted a Universal Studios tour, during which we see such landmarks as the Psycho house, the shark from Jaws, and a few of the studio’s more popular set pieces (including the European street used for Frankenstein and other classic horror films).
That amounts to about 5 minutes’ worth of entertainment in a 90+ minute movie, so no matter how you slice it, The Nude Bomb is an utter waste of time.