Norman Taurog, 1965
Starring: Vincent Price, Frankie Avalon, Dwayne Hickman, Susan Hart
In his funeral parlor lair, the diabolical Dr. Goldfoot has created a dozen sexy, gold-bikini-clad female robots to help him fulfill his plan of world domination. He will start by having the robots each marry the world’s richest men and steal their money. It begins with #11, known as Diane, who accidentally goes after Craig Gamble, an ineffectual secret agent. Goldfoot remotely puts Diane back on the right path towards millionaire Dwayne Hickman, who gleefully marries her and hands over much of his estate.
But Gamble is still obsessed with finding Diane and stumbles across Goldfoot’s scheme, though no one will believe him. He eventually convinces Hickman, who tricks Diane and refuses to sign over the rest of his wealth. Both still in love with Diane, Gamble and Hickman travel to Goldfoot’s lair to confront him and hopefully get Hickman’s money and Diane back. Little do they know what Goldfoot has in store for them...
A spoof on Goldfinger, Dr. Goldfoot is a mix of spy spoof, slapstick, beach party movie, and horror comedy. This is a definite precursor to films like Casino Royale (1967) and Austin Powers (1997). If you like spy spoofs, there is a lot to love, but if you dislike or just don’t understand the subgenre, Dr. Goldfoot is not for you. Vincent Price has a lot of fun here and particularly shines during the big scene in his lair and attached dungeon, which is complete with trap doors, cells, a torture chamber, and a razor pendulum right out of Pit and the Pendulum (1961).
The script was written by produced Louis M. Heyward, who worked with Vincent Price on a number of films including War Gods of the Deep, Witchfinder General, and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It was originally intended to be a musical, though these scenes were cut and some were included in The Weird Wild World of Dr. Goldfoot, a TV special meant to promote the film. Comedy director Norman Taurog does an average job here and is best known for his Elvis films, such as G.I. Blues (1960).
Part of what makes Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine flawed is that instead of being a stand alone spy spoof, it is an attempt to continue the Pajama Party and Bikini films, which include Operation Bikini, Bikini Beach, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, and more. Frankie Avalon appeared in nearly all of those films, so his starring role here is not surprising. Todd Armstrong (How to Stuff a Wild Bikini) costars as Hickman in a similar role he had in the Bikini films. There are also cameos from cast members of the Roger Corman Edgar Allen Poe films with Vincent Price, as well as members of the Beach Party films, including Annette Funicello and Harvey Lembeck.
Susan Hart was previously in War Gods of the Deep with Price, though she soon retired from acting after Dr. Goldfoot, as American International Pictures producer James H. Nicholson fell in love with her, divorced his wife, and married Hart. Goldfoot’s idiotic assistant was played by Jack Mullaney (My Living Doll with Julie Newmar) and Gamble’s Uncle Fred, head of the spy agency, was played by Fred Clark (Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb).
The excellent opening credits are from Art Cokey, the claymation artist who created Gumby, with a song from the Supremes. This is basically the height of ‘60s camp with floating gold shoes and bikinis, claymation, gold letters, and Vincent Price’s head in a gold shoe. Though the same level of outrageousness doesn’t really sustain itself through the film, there are plenty of sex jokes, robot gags, and a funny drinking/hang over scene.
The film’s major flaw is that it simply tried to be too many things at once. There are also a number of boring filler moments and the chase sequence at the end of the film throughout San Francisco is very, very long. It involves a motorcycle, car, cable car, boat, and more. It certainly overstays its welcome, but there is a nice twist ending to leave things on a fun, memorable note.
This was followed by a musical TV special, The Weird Wild World of Dr. Goldfoot, and a very disappointing sequel, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs. Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine is available on single disc DVD as a stand alone film or with Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs. Recommended for fans of spy spoofs and some of Price’s campier ‘60s films.