Editor’s Note: This review ran on February 8, 2021, as part of our Mill Creek B-Movie Blast month of reviews. We’re bringing it back for our “Hikmet ‘Howard’ Avedis Week” of reviews.
Mill Creek fans have listed Sly Stallone’s The Specialist from 1994 directed by Luis Llosa (of Crime Zone and Anaconda fame) on their lists for Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast 50-Film pack. Others noted on their lists — uh, oh, there’s that friggin’ plural “S” again, the same “S” that bit me in the arse during out big, British-produced Satan’s Slave (1976) vs. the Indonesian-produced Satan’s Slaves (1982) snafu with our Mill Creek Pure Terror Month review back in November 2019 — that the film included on the B-Movie Blast set is Sergio Corbucci’s The Specialists (1969; starring French rock singer Johnny Hallyday (French rock singer; later of 1987s Terminus) — a film that we didn’t get around to during our “Spaghetti Western Week”* of reviews.
So, plural “S,” damn you, for ye almost deprived us of an Adam West . . . yes, THE ADAM WEST . . . spy thriller directed by Howard Avedis, he who gave us the epics of Connie Stevens as a rogue cop in Scorchy and ex-Waltons frolicking through the supernatural in Mortuary. Yeah, you know us all to well: we feel a “Howard Avedis Week” coming on, too. I mean, with film titles like The Stepmother and The Teacher (sexploitation time!!!!), and movies starring the B-Movie elite of Sybil Danning, Karen Black, Bo Hopkins, Patrick Wayne, Edy Williams (Dr. Minx!!!), and Angel Hopkins (!) with Jay “Dennis the Menace” North — how can we NOT have a “Howard Avedis Week” of reviews?
But. let’s get back to Adam’s West’s B-Movie milieu (Omega Cop, One Dark Night) in the Avedis schlock oeuvre.
As you can see from the theatrical one-sheet, this is all about Budapest, Hungary-imported bombshell Ahna Carpi, who blazed through 70-plus U.S. TV credits (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is my fondest Carpi-ory) before retiring from the business. But you know her film work in . . . YES . . The Brotherhood of Satan and Piranha (oops, the 1972 one that Joe Dante didn’t direct — damn you, multiple titles) and . . . YES . . . as Tania in Enter the Dragon. And, would you believe she was a child actor in two episodes of the now Antenna oft-run ’60s series Leave It to Beaver (I just got done watching “Beaver’s Sweater” a few days ago!), but, back then, she was “Anna Capri” and not the more porny-reading Ahna, which is the proper, Euro-ethnic spelling of her first name. Oh, and to continue that Brotherhood of Satan degree of separation: Alvy “Hank Kimbel” Moore is in The Specialist (as blackmailing court bailiff) as well, and Avedis’s Mortuary (and a few others) . . . and Cotton Candy (but no Avedis or Capri on that one).
So, there’s your movie trivia for today: What two movies starred a Hungarian child actor and a Green Acres cast member?
See? Reposting that old Sly Stallone review, in error, would have robbed us of all this fun! But, alas . . . I know, I know . . . get to the friggin’ movie, already, R.D. Hey, I’ve haven’t seen this one either, so, let’s go, Adam West fans! Hit the play button!
Now, based on this still from the film (or promo pack from the film) posted by the Digital Content Management Team at the IMDb, you’d think you’re getting a spy thriller with Adam West as a B-Movie James Bond or as an ex-war vet now a kick ass private eye. Oh, ye Mill Creek grazer of the digital divide, how wrong are ye. For this is a Crown International Pictures — serious — court room drama. I know. I never thought I’d type that sentence in a review either. This from a studio that gives us a steady stream of boobs, vans, cheerleaders, female basketball coaches who have sex with male students, and any -sploitation variant you can imagine.
But this ain’t your granddad’s or great grandad’s Perry Mason, Owen Marshall: Attorney at Law, or Matlock (especially not with Nancy Stafford in the cast). This court room caper, again, looking at the rendering of Ahna in that dress, is an R-rated potboiler. But a Joe Eszterhas Jagged Edge neo-noir legal thriller this is not, Motion Picture Association Ratings to protect us youngins, be damned.
West is “The Specialist,” aka defense attorney Jerry Bounds, who’s in a court battle against fellow attorney Pike Smith (western actor John Anderson), an attorney who wants his job back on the board of a (corrupt) water company. So, to assure he wins the case, Pike recruits a sleazy P.I. (is there any other kind), Alec Sharkey (aka Howard Avedis aka’in as actor Russell Schmidt), who, in turn, recruits Londa Weyth (Ahna Carpi), his blonde-n’-hot operative serving as a juror-ringer on the trial, to seduce Bounds and get a mistrial declared.
So, in case you haven’t figure it out: The “Specialist” isn’t West as a cool-as-steel spy or ex-Special Forces-now-an-Attorney (or P.I.) bad-ass; the well-endowed Londa is the special forces sex kitten in these proceedings. Another sultry kitten in our midst is Playboy and Max Factor model Christiane Schmidtmer, you remember her as the hot stewardess from Boeing Boeing (1965) that got Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis all hot-n-bothered.
I am sure West, looking to be taken seriously as an actor (and deserved, IMO), was hoping this adaptation of the best-selling novel Come Now the Lawyers, would become a box office hit and thrust him into a legit theatrical career with the bigger studios. As did author Ralph Bushnell Potts, himself a Seattle-based Attorney-at-Law (learn more about Potts’s interesting life with his 1991 obituary in the Seattle Times). But, alas . . . Potts’s serious book about Washington State’s early courts system was turned into a Crown International exploitation fest that is not the least bit titillating and fails on the salacious scale that Crown in known for via these Mill Creek box sets. In the annals of Crown International public domaindom, The Specialist is a truly odd duck in the Crown celluloid pond.
There’s no freebie rips online to share, but you can check out the trailer and a scene clip on You Tube. Of course, you can enjoy The Specialist as part of Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast 50-Film Pack.
* You can visit with our “Drive-In Friday: Klaus Kinski Spaghetti Westerns Nite” to get started on your Italian Western travels, pardner.
About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.