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The Phynx


Phar-out, phunny, phreaky stuff.

Rod Lott November 6th, 2012

If movies could be drug-tested, The Phynx would be in big trouble. The 1970 comedy is not just an obscurity, but an oddity, like a hallucinogenic brew mixed by Peter Max and Hanna-Barbera. Newly rescued from Nowheresville by Warner Archive, the film is a spy spoof on the goofball level of Get Smart — in spirit, that is, not creatively.

phynx

To review the movie, I need only tell you what it’s about. The dictator of communist Albania has swiped dozens of United States “world leaders,” including Butterfly McQueen, Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, Dorothy Lamour, Xavier Cugat, Col. Sanders, Busby Berkeley, the Bowery Boys, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. (Mind you, all of them appear as themselves.)

In order to save them, Humphrey Bogart (played by Mike Kellin of TV’s The Wackiest Ship in the Army), who heads America’s Super Secret Agency, consults the organization’s robot named M.O.T.H.A. (that stands for Mechanical Oracle That Helps Americans) for advice. Her answer? “Form a pop musical group and get invited to Albania.”

And so he does, recruiting four young men — a college protester, a muscleman, an American Indian grad and a black beer-ad actor — to form the Beatles-esque group known as The Phynx (sounds like “finks”). They’re trained by the likes of Richard Pryor, Dick Clark and Harold “Oddjob” Sakata are introduced to America by Ed Sullivan, and before you know it, The Phynx are groovy, baby! President Richard Nixon even signs an order to declare Thanksgiving be known as Phynxgiving.

To find the castle where the celebs are being held hostage, the band must piece together a map that is tattooed on the tummies of three different shapely young ladies. This leads to them having to bone as many groupies as possible to get them out of their clothes. Once their precious bodily fluids have been exhausted, they don X-ray specs and go skin-scouting, in an extended gag I would've loved when I was 15.

So, yeah, The Phynx is one wild happening, and that’s even without taking James Brown’s cameo into consideration. Naturally, even a full tank of zany is bound to run out after an hour, and does, but djrector Lee H. Katzin tapped his experience of churning out episodes of Mission: Impossible, The Mod Squad, The Wild Wild West and It Takes a Thief for all its was worth. The result is haphazard and scattershot, but undeniably a before-its-time original. Far out, baby, far out.  —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Mission: Impossible: The Fifth TV Season DVD review   
It Takes a Thief: The Complete Series DVD review  



 
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