Having perfect facial beauty is one thing that enabled her to rank not too far behind Raquel, who also has it.
One can only wonder if "Jason And The Argonauts" had been successful and generated a sequel in which Nancy would have had a much bigger part as Medea, that she might have been able to enjoy much greater stardom (at least to the point where she wouldn't have gotten such a thanklessly brief role in the Helm film, and instead been one of the leads!)
Wotta Bea-U-ti-ful Background You Have Department:
didn’t have what you’d call
an eye-popping career
(except for the natural adornments
a most benevolent Nature provided her)
she certainly hit the bullseye as Lovey Kravezit, our spy’s always-accomodating secretary.
She had a sweet presence in this one but wasn’t seen to nearly the same advantage in the 2nd and 3rd Helm-ers. Her character (which is purely an invention of the films) had the potential to contribute something charming along the lines of Lois Maxwell’s Miss Moneypenny had the films continued but such simply wasn’t to be.
Still, she achieved a measure of lasting fame that time has nothing to erode (same could be said for her beauty, also, no?)
Which brings us to
O You Cyd Department:
She’d already established herself as a dancer par excellence
in many classic films long before
charisma in the opening sequence
She was just getting started, however,
because she then returned in a pivotal sequence to dazzling effect
(to a blistering and glorious Elmer Bernstein musical number, “Santiago” – sung, ala the title tune, by
It was a wonderful (and unexpected) way to kick off the flick in such a brassy show-biz manner,
but the highly entertaining dividends it delivered due to Mme. Charisse’s sizzling dancing more than insured the gamble hit the target.
It’s absolutely noooo wonder why she was such an unforgettable part of so many great musicals.
.....One can only wonder if "Jason And The Argonauts" had been successful and generated a sequel in which Nancy would have had a much bigger part as Medea, that she might have been able to enjoy much greater stardom (at least to the point where she wouldn't have gotten such a thanklessly brief role in the Helm film, and instead been one of the leads!.....
In the final analysis, Nancy Kovack's important stardom didn't come from her 20 years of movies or TV, but rather from recognition in Los Angeles and New York society in her position as the 40+ year wife and partner of famed conductor, Zubin Mehta.
This ravishing Israeli dish had one of the most attention-getting screen entrances ever when she interrupted her former partner’s almost lethal-liaison
Garbed with Mata Hari intensity, Miss Lavi’s dark intensity was perfect for Tina – in fact, she’s the singular casting exception in the entire series who could’ve perfectly fit the dazzlingly deceptive character author Donald Hamilton painted her in the novel “Death of a Citizen”.
With her husky voice and playful persona,
she simply oozed the kind of independent assurance
and complex confidence the film needed
for its eventual twists and turns.
[ Actually, aside from Diana Rigg in her Emma Peel-ish prime, Miss Lavi
had precisely the kind of exotic quality that would’ve been ideal had she been cast as Modesty Blaise. ]
As it stood, tho, she more than filled the gorgeous bill here.
Discovered by Kirk Douglas, her Hollywood career included appearing in
opposite Peter O’Toole
and a bevy of other films spotlighting her beauty
including the all-star fiasco that was 1967’s “Casino Royale”
and with Yul Brynner in “Catlow”
among many more statewide and in Europe.
Her career as a singer has continued unabated over the years and has probably widened her worldwide
fan base far beyond any of the films
she made so many years ago.
But, for us, she’ll always remain
the dangerous, delectable and totally dynamite Tina.
A Dazzling Comedic Tour de Force Even Lucille Ball Would’ve Envied Department:
They say dying is easy but comedy is hard, and if there’s one thing more difficult to pull off than a thoroughly convincing drunk scene, it’s playing a sexy space cadet with more than a few elevators missing upstairs – and it’s this tricky tightrope Ms. Stevens pulls off here in a performance that’s one of the highlights (let alone hilarious) treasures of her career.
An acting teacher of ours once gave the example of what constitutes the core of acting by using Lucille Ball as his focus. After noting how all our know-it-all (know nothing) young mouths were totally on the floor with unbelief at his incredible assertion, Richard calmly went on to say that what made her antics on “I Love Lucy” so memorable and side-splitting is the TOTAL COMMITMENT Mme. Ball brought to any and everything she was called upon to perform – she never stinted, she never backed down, she never flinched and nothing was ever too outlandish or unbelievable that she didn’t anchor with her absolute discipline in doing whatever was required – and then some.
That’s precisely the unforgettable accomplishment Ms. Stevens does here; her Gail Hendrix is a normal woman caught in a situation wayyyyy beyond her reality – but when folks start shooting at her and women begin dying all around her, she’s forced to tap into resources she never knew she had.
She matches Mr. Martin’s equally flustered agent with a series of reactions that are the very essence of spontaneity (with a bedrock of truthful conviction – not merely silly slapstick – underneath it all).
Next tyme you watch it, don’t take your eyes off her because she’s a marvel of invention in each and every scene (at one point, even counting the BULLET HOLES in the wall they’ve just avoided; these are the kinds of inspired details nooooo director or script-writer would come up with on their own).
Their chemistry was so momentous she appeared
With Dino again a year or so later.
And don’t forget her earlier appearance with
which had later repercussions once she worked with Steubenville’s favorite son.
Mind you, Sharon Tate’s accident-prone associate to Matt in “The Wrecking Crew” is a direct descendent and impressive outing in its own right - both, ah, Helmed by Phil Karlson -
but you really wanna check out the original in all its delightful distinction.
It’s Not Quite Up Thar with Columbus’ Catastrophic Compass But Durn Near It Department:
Once ‘pon a tyme, an enterprising producer named Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli
was teamed with Irving Allen (no relation to the Master of Disaster)
in a production entity based in London named Warwick Films; among the stellar professional peers who cut their early cinematic eye-teeth working with Messrs. Broccoli and Allen were future 007 paragons as director Terence Young, cinematographer Ted Moore and stuntman Bob Simmons. From 1953-1960, many films of different genres were birthed until there came a seminal parting of the ways between the two gents heading it.
See, Mr. Broccoli had the apparently peculiar visionary idea Ian Fleming’s James Bond books would make a splendid mo’om pitcher series. Mr. Allen, to put it mildly, thought his pard was outta his gourd. So they parted company (and dissolved it, also) going their marvelously miffed ways.
Made of sterner, more disciplined stuff, Mr. Broccoli then teamed up with a Canadian showman named Harry Saltzman,
on his wife Dana’s astute recommendation recruited a not-yet Great Scot named Sean Connery,
whereupon they then proceeded to unleash upon a flabbergasted world a trilogy of little art-house vehicles called
plus the blockbuster that blew the flamin' lid off and established the entire history-in-the-making franchise
NOW alluva brilliantly-belated sudden, Mr. Allen
saw the spectacular error of his Herculean hubris, and looked around to see where (if and with whom) he could board the Bondanza and have a crack at all that Fort Knox golden box-office.
Fortituously, around the mid-sixties was when Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm series were among the best-selling paperbacks around
so he quickly snapped up the rights and decided he was gonna take his movie marbles and have a go at it in his own playground (so there, Cubby - nyah nyah nyah nyah nyahhhhh).
With an ace production design, smart and sassy script from Oscar Saul, crackerjack direction courtesy of Phil Karlson, a top-array cast balanced by one of Elmer Bee’s most swinging scores
this inaugural offering was a smash hit on all cylinders.
(and being no dummy, Dino made sure he was made a full-fledged financial partner afore beaming aboard.)
Natch, nothing succeeds like success, so this spawned the other three films
that followed almost every
By the tyme the projected fifth film was starting early pre-production,
Dino announced he’d had enuff and was turning in his Sy Devore turtlenecks and booby-trapped camera once and for all.
As to that, there were rumors they intended to reteam him with
Sharon Tate (but obviously her perversely premature demise
prevented that nifty notion – so, to paraphrase James Gregory in Murderer’s Row, “Matt Helm’s dead – and he’s gonna stay that way.”
In 1975, Writer Sam Rolfe resurrected him with Tony Franciosa in the title role for a short-lived series of about a dozen episodes, turning Helm into (wot else?) an El Lay private detective (gee, who’da thot?!? )
Many remained appalled Donald Hamilton’s sterling creation was given such a spoofy reincarnation in this quartet of ‘60s flicks and, depending upon your viewpoint, they either repel you with their good-humored lowest-uncommon (and supremely sexist) denominator OR you can simply put your critical arsenal aside and just enjoy ‘em for what they so unpretentiously, unapologetically are: one helluva heavenly grand time.
With the first Always – In All Ways – still the superior BEST.