One of my favorites of the small number of Sixties Eurospy films I've seen is Antonio Margherti's Lightning Bolt, which stars Anthony Eisley of Hawaiian Eye fame and Mighty Gorga infamy.
I've owned a horrible, hideously pan-and-scanned full-frame VHS copy of this flick for years, and even with that tape's low quality, I enjoyed the movie a lot. Still, I kept hoping that someone would put out a good version of the film on video, preferably in its correct aspect ratio. I didn't know what that ratio should be, but my tape certainly wasn't right.
Anyway, Media Blasters has just released an anamorphic widescreen version of this deliriously demented spy-fi romp on DVD. Unfortunately, to get it, you have to purchase the RareFlix Triple Feature Vol. 4 boxed set, which also includes two other movies, both of which are virtually unwatchable. Still, the retail price of the set is only around $20 bucks. I paid $15 at Best Buy, five bucks less than I paid for my crappy VHS edition back in the early 90s.
This 1966 Spanish-Italian thriller, also known as Operation Goldman, pits American secret agent Harry Sennett against a diabolical brewmaster (who looks like a cross between Goldfinger and Oddjob!) who is sabotaging the U.S. space effort from his secret underwater base somewhere off the coast of (a surprisingly mountainous) Florida. The villain is planning to place a laser cannon on the moon, and is making sure that NASA doesn't get there first.
Sleazy Sennett is an unusual secret agent; instead of a gun, he carries a checkbook, and backed by an unlimited expense account, he uses it to buy information (no dreary detective work for Harry) – and to bribe his adversaries (beats bruising his knuckles!). He does have a few nifty spy gadgets, however – the obligatory geiger counter watch that doubles as a homing transmitter, and a gas-spewing pen. He claims to hate violence – hence, no gun – but proves to be quite adept at Roger Moore-styled fake karate when pitted against ski-masked goons. Also, for some reason, Sennett narrates the film in a private eye-styled voice over!
The movie starts out a bit slow, but picks up nicely at the halfway point. The villain's geothermal-powered underwater lair is actually pretty cool, considering the low budget (and predating the underwater base of The Spy Who Loved Me by a decade). Less successful, though, is the Spanish seaside trying to pass for Florida's Cape Kennedy.
The print on new DVD from Media Blasters/RareFlix is considerably better than any previous version I've seen. The widescreen presentation improves the viewing experience considerably, and colors are bright (especially striking is Sennett's crimson Jaguar.). The print is far from pristine, with lots of specks, scratches and other minor print damage, but it's very watchable, on a par with Dorado Films' 077 Eurospy discs. The disc also includes the original theatrical trailer, and it's in good shape.
Now, as a fan of Eurospsy flicks and this Eurospy flick in particular, I felt it was worth the $15 bucks to add it to my library. I'm going to probably toss or trade the other two discs (some unfunny 70's comedy called Boogie Vision and a 2005 dull-as-dirt crime flick called Transformed, which sells itself as a Fred Williamson flick, though The Hammer's only got a cameo).
Here's the trailer (though not the nice widescreen one from the disc):