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  Zeta One These Ladies Are Out Of This WorldBuy this film here.
Year: 1969
Director: Michael Cort
Stars: James Robertson Justice, Charles Hawtrey, Robin Hawdon, Anna Gael, Brigitte Skay, Dawn Addams, Valerie Leon, Lionel Murton, Yutte Stensgaard, Angela Grant, Wendy Lingham, Rita Webb, Carol Hawkins, Steve Kirby, Paul Baker, Walter Sparrow, Alan Haywood
Genre: Comedy, Trash, Science Fiction
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Secret agent James Word (Robin Hawdon) returns home to his flat one evening to discover his front door is open. Immediately suspicious, he draws his pistol and begins creeping around his rooms, hoping to catch the intruder out until he barges into the kitchen and falls in a heap amongst some brooms and mops. There, with an amused look on her face, is Ann Olsen (Yutte Stensgaard), who claims to have been sent by Word's bosses to find out more about the mission he has been on. And not only that, but she's cooked her speciality, coq au vin, for dinner...

Well, it's all very domestic and cosy isn't it, but you had better get used to these two as they prattle on for a time-consuming twenty minutes before anything approaching a story raises its head. Zeta One was an especially shoddy experience, looking as it did as if the producers had about half an hour of Barbarella-style sexploitation and were forced to pad it out to a patience-testing eighty minutes. This hailed from British independent Tigon, and was distinctive for being an early example of the kind of prurient entertainment that would really make its mark in the next decade.

However, few of those were quite as strange as this - what was wrong with a straightforward sex comedy? Instead, although it is indicated we're not supposed to take this seriously, there's precious little about it that would raise a laugh, even with the presence of seasoned comedy pros James Robertson Justice (as the villainous Major Bourdon) and Charles Hawtrey (as Swyne, his sidekick). Indeed, it can be quite jarring to see what these two get up to here, with Justice torturing a topless young woman on a rack one bit that is once seen, never forgotten (although you'd probably wish it otherwise).

The hero is James Word, and Hawdon gets to play this character as a bumbling James Bond type. The supposed enemies would fit right into a Bond rip-off on a higher budget, being a society of attractive women led by Zeta (Dawn Addams) of the sort that we've seen before in the likes of Cat-Women of the Moon and Queen of Outer Space, only these ladies wear fewer clothes. That there are whole groups of characters who never speak to each other, never even meet each other in fact, speaks of a cast who spent a couple of days' shooting their bits, pocketed their fee and never let the memory of Zeta One trouble them again.

The filmmakers knew their (male) audience as evinced by the amount of naked women making an appearance - the heroine, Edwina (Wendy Lingham) is even a stripper - but as a story this is all over the place. You would be hard pressed to work out what precisely has been gained by the other-dimensional females of Angvia (one for the anagram fans, there), and it all resolves itself in a runaround with semi-starkers women rushing around a freezing-looking English forest and zapping henchmen with hand gestures (accompanied by thunderclaps on the soundtrack for effect). How this all went down with the adult cinemagoers of 1969 is anyone's guess, but one part is notable: the temperamental talking elevator that Douglas Adams must have been inspired by, surely? Music by Johnny Hawksworth (including a frenzied playing of the spoons).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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