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Assault on a Queen

Six years after Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack robbed Las Vegas in the original "Ocean's 11", old blue eyes tried to pull off an ocean heist in 1966's ASSAULT ON A QUEEN.

A retro blast with shoddy special effects but a killer cast, it had a smile on my face from start to finish.

And Virna Lisi. Where has Virna Lisi been all my life? Stunning.

Sinatra stars as Mark Brittain, a former Navy man now quietly running a fishing boat with his best mate Linc, well played by Errol John (Buck and the Preacher).

They are approached by playboy treasure hunter Vic Rossiter, embodied by Tony Franciosa, who would become a legendary action TV series star in the 1970's with "Matt Helm", "Name of the Game" and one of my personal favorites, "Search". Vic is never without a cigarette and the beautiful Italian blonde Rosa (Lisi) at his side.

Along with Eric (Alf Kjellin from "Ice Station Zebra") they've got a plan to find Spanish shipwrecks and plenty of booty, but Brittain instead finds an intact German U-boat submarine.

They raise it and decide to use it in a daring ocean heist that involves boarding the Queen Mary and raiding its bank.

The charm of this caper is mostly it's mid 60's style, with Sinatra at the height of his charm, wooing Lisi away from Franciosa as Duke Ellington's music score surrounds you. It sounds more like a Vegas lounge than a submarine flick, but it works beautifully.

Sinatra again presses the racial boundaries as he always did in the sixties. His camaraderie with Linc is smooth and their friendship genuine. Both of them express plenty of repulsion at Franciosa's Vic, who seems determined to make racial side remarks about virtually everyone's heritage.

Rod Serling (Planet of the Apes, The Twilight Zone) wrote the fast paced screenplay that's beautifully constructed as a high stakes caper movie, but features some groan worthy dialogue, like when Mark is talking about Rosa to Linc and says "She's so deep in my gut, we breathe together." LOL. If anyone could ever pull of that line, it's Sinatra, pouring it out before taking another puff off the ever present cigarette in his grasp.

As goofy as the heist sounds and a hokey as some of the special effects are, damned if I wasn't on the edge of my seat for the entire heist sequence. I loved the ending, it's unexpected and counter culture a couple years before "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" ended up against the Bolivian army.

How bad are the special effects? Three times in the final sequence under the Queen Mary, you can clearly see the two hands of a special effects dives shaking the sub and guiding it around the propellers. Not a glimpse of a finger, mind you, both hands in full view holding the back of the sub!

I bust out laughing. You can see wires on Sinatra's diving suit at the beginning and on the subs. I think it might have been filmed in a bathtub.

Didn't matter.

Sinatra, Lisi and Franciosa always had my eyes on them, oozing 60's cool and wiseguy cracks, and in the case of Lisi, classic beauty. Like Grace Kelly, the camera loves her from every angle, giving her great presence that rivets your attention. She's very good as Rosa, torn between Vic and Mark until plenty of bullets make that decision for her.

The poster is a classic, promising a great time at the movies that this old fashioned thriller delivers, if you're willing to take yourself back to a very different decade!

As that poster says,

"He's an I've tried everything guy."

"She's an I'll try anything girl."

Bring it on Sinatra. And thank you for being you, Virna Lisi.

I'm going to go IMDB every other movie you were ever in and find the second half of this double feature......

ASSAULT ON A QUEEN steals a nostalgic B.

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