Operación 67

(Estudios América--Cima Films) Exec Prod: Mauricio Walerstein, J. Fernando Pérez Gavilán; Dir: René Cardona, René Cardona Jr.; Scr: Rafael García Travesí , Mauricio Wall [aka Gregorio Walerstein]; Photo: Raúl Domínguez, Fernando Colín; Music: Enrico Cabiati; Prod Mgr: Antonio Rodríguez, Jacobo Derechín; Asst Dir: Tito Novaro, Fernando Durán; Film Ed: José J. Munguía; Art Dir: Arcadi Artis Gener; Underwater Photo: Genaro Hurtado; Sound Op: Ricardo Saldivar; Special FX: Javier Sierra; Decor: Fernando Solorzano; Union: STIC

CAST: Santo (himself), Jorge Rivero (Jorge Rubio), Elizabeth Campbell (Ruth Taylor), Noé Murayama (Sadomi Suki), Midori Nagashiro (Japanese dancer), José Luis Carol (Interpol agent), Miguel Gómez Checa (chief of evil organization), Olga Morris (Santo's date on "beach"), María Salomé (Jorge's date on "beach"?), Juan Garza (Agent 8), Gerardo Cepeda (Agent 7), René G. Barrera (Agent 4), Alfonso Torres [aka Juan Miranda]*, Henry Pilusso, Manuel Galavis "El Vikingo," Ray Mendoza, Tony Sugar, Ramiro Orci (Agent 2), Fernando Yapur (agent with blowtorch), Armando Acosta (businessman), Jean Safont (wrestling opponent), Manuel Dondé (police detective), Rubén Márquez (police detective), Julián de Meriche (wrestling impresario), Antonio Raxel (Interpol chief)

*although Alfonso Torres is billed, I could not spot him; he does appear in the sequel El tesoro de Moctezuma, however

Mexico City release: November 1967; 3 week run; Authorization: A

Spanish release data: Authorization date: 18 January 1968; Total spectators: 367,905.

This film received a fair number of playdates in U.S. cinemas in 1968-69. Cities included Los Angeles, CA (April, July and Nov 1968, Sept, Nov and Dec 1969), Phoeniz, AZ (Mar and Nov 1968, Oct 1969), Hartford, MI (Sept 68), Detroit, MI (Oct 68), Miami, FL (May 1968), Tampa, FL (May 1968), San Antonio, TX (Jan 1969), and Oakland, CA (Mar 1969).

NOTES: This is one of the slickest Santo adventures, a James Bond-type film with Santo and Jorge Rivero as "secret agents" (they're even billed this way). Like the Bond films, this one features women in bikinis, lots of action, gadgets, international intrigue. Santo fans will be pleased that their hero finally gets decent production values, but may be disappointed that Jorge Rivero is given so much attention. But as a film, Operación 67 is quite good, consistently entertaining and nicely put together.

It's interesting to note that this is one of a handful of Santo films which contains nudity, and one of the few that can be seen in the "nude" version. The Mexican release prints usually did not have nudity, since this would have excluded children from the audience; however, at least one pre-record of Operación 67 contains a musical number featuring Midori Nagashiro (she can be seen wearing pasties and a very abbreviated g-string in the credits sequence), who proceeds to remove her pasties and stroll around topless for some time. This scene is structured and cut in such as way that the nude shots could be fairly easily trimmed (and are, on TV). But even her "costume" is pretty risqué.

The cast is generally good. Santo, in both this film and the sequel, seems to get along well with Jorge Rivero. He even gets off a couple of quips--when his blonde date asks him to remove his mask, Santo says if he does, he'll put Jorge to shame! And at the end of the picture, when Jorge lights his cigar with a counterfeit bill, Santo remarks: "You never stop your clowning, Jorge." Rivero, who'd made his film debut as a Santo-clone in El asesino invisible, was making his climb to stardom: handsome and with an enviably muscular body, he never quite rose above conventional genre productions, but enjoyed a long career in Mexican and international films. Elizabeth Campbell is excellent as the female spy chief, stern and beautiful, dedicated to her own cause and capable of supervising her male henchmen in their sinister tasks.

As noted above, the production values are significantly better than usual. The photography is good and Enrico Cabiati's score is loud, brassy 1960's "action"-style music. Santo's laboratory, which only appears briefly, is a large and well-appointed set (much better than the spy ring's control room, which has mostly old electronic gizmos sitting around). Cars crash and burn, a boat blows up, there is underwater photography, a plane is shot down with a bazooka (OK, the crashed plane is represented by a mockup), and there is a lot of aerial photography done specifically for this film (not stock footage). Given that two directors and two cinematographers are credited, one might suspect that there were two units working on this film (and the sequel), but there isn't any discernable difference in the footage. There is some stock footage--New York harbor, for instance--and the opening shot of a map is probably stock (since "Pacific Ocean" appears in English), but this isn't a Sotomayor production, so the thrills and spectacle are original, not borrowed.

An international crime organization, based in Hong Kong, has a branch in Latin America, headed by Ruth Taylor. The organization has stolen (in a slick sequence) the original printing plates for a high-denomination bill, and replaced them with fakes . Thus, the government is printing counterfeit money and the spy ring is printing the real thing! Hopefully, this will throw the economy into a tailspin and the organization will take advantage of the disruption (the characters all say "Latin American countries" rather than "Mexico," although obviously only one country would be using these particular plates to print money). Ruth tells her assembled agents they will be given large quantities of bills to spend and invest; but first, each man has a special watch welded onto his wrist. These watches serve as radio communicators with headquarters.

Meanwhile, Santo and Jorge are relaxing on the beach with two young, bikini-clad women. Suddenly, the sound of the waves and seagulls ceases--it's just a recording, and the "beach" is actually a mockup located somewhere in Santo's mansion. The two heroes hear a beep indicating that a message from Interpol is coming through (Jorge brusquely tells the women to "get dressed and call a taxi"). The Interpol chief in Paris informs them that an Interpol agent is on his way to brief them on the plot.

After Jorge watches the aforementioned strip-tease number in a nightclub, it's time for a tag team match between Santo and Jorge, and two opponents (one of them is Jean Safont, presumably the other is "El Vikingo"). [Rivero does some of his own wrestling, but his double is painfully obvious at other times, since he's carrying a spare tire around his waist that clashes with Rivero's chiseled physique.] In the audience are the newly-arrived Interpol agent, the Japanese exotic dancer (who makes a whispered date with Jorge after the match), and some of the spy ring's agents.

After the match, two of the agents plan to abscond to Rio de Janeiro with the money they've been given, and money they've won by betting on Santo! They don't realize that their watches allow Ruth and Suki, her assistant, to eavesdrop. When a switch is thrown at spy HQ, the watches shoot off sparks and kill the two agents.

The Interpol agent visits Santo and Jorge, and shows them the false bills. Jorge offers to drive the agent to his hotel; while they're gone, two spies break in and try to assassinate Santo. After a decent fight, one spy falls out of the second-floor window to his death; his partner is pressured into talking, but before he can say anything, Suki flips the switch and electrocutes him (then he falls out the window too!). Santo watches this with a foolish look on his face. He calls Jorge, who 's in bed with the Japanese dancer and tells Santo to bug off .

The next day, Jorge's car is pursued by a light plane with machine guns mounted in its wings. After a chase, Jorge pulls a bazooka from his trunk and shoots the plane down. He then goes back to the dancer's apartment (cheesecake shots of her in black lingerie): she's surprised to see that he's alive. As they leave, the police arrest her (she's later found in her cell, dead--she committed suicide with a poison pill). Jorge goes back inside to wait, and is soon confronted by one of the spies (Juan Garza), with a sword cane. The ensuing fight isn't great, but both men try hard, breaking up a lot of furniture and carved wooden screens. Finally, the spy grabs Jorge's pistol but Jorge impales him with the sword cane.

Santo is nearly the victim of a drive-by shooting. He hops in his car and pursues the spies, eventually using his car's built-in flamethrowers to burn them (and their Mercedes) to a crisp. These failed attempts irritate Ruth. Her agents rig up a device at the wrestling arena to kill Santo, but Jorge--in the audience this time--shouts a warning and when the lighting grid crashes into the ring, both Santo and his opponent are unharmed.

The Interpol agent isn't so lucky. As he's talking to Santo and Jorge and is just about to give them a clue, the spies use a long-range rifle to blast him. Jorge and Santo give chase in Santo's car, trailing the assassins to a nearby village (this film has a lot of aerial shots of long, straight, empty country roads). Santo catches one spy (Jorge kills the other) and appropriates his radio watch, which is exposed as such when Ruth calls. They hand the device over to an Interpol scientist. [Interestingly enough, all of the Interpol personnel speak with foreign accents.]

Ruth, posing as a foreign journalist, arranges to meet Santo and Jorge. Jorge makes a date with her, and they go to the beach. They kiss, and Ruth (devastating in a green bikini) says, "Whatever happens, I really love you." Meanwhile, a frogman plants a bomb in Jorge's speedboat; Ruth jumps overboard, but Jorge--warned by Santo, who's on another boat and has been watching through binoculars--also escapes as the boat blows up. Both Jorge and Santo are promptly attacked by frogmen assassins, but manage to kill their assailants.

Using the radio-watch, Santo, Jorge, the scientist and a bunch of Interpol agents locate the spy HQ. Ruth, realizing that one of their communicators has been stolen, throws the switch to kill all of the agents wearing them! The Interpol agents crash the hideout; Suki escapes, leaving Ruth to face the law. She shoots it out with them. Mortally wounded, she gives Jorge her emerald ring to remember her by and says, "Remember what I said, I never lied." Then she dies (with her eyes open). Jorge: "What a pity." The scientist tells Santo (who's wearing the watch) that he disabled the tiny bit of uranium inside, so that's why Santo wasn't zapped with the others.

As the film ends, the fake bills are shoveled into a furnace as Jorge and Santo watch.

Very good piece of work.

TRIVIA NOTE: large portions of the plot of this film were recycled by producer J. Fernández Pérez Gavilán for Octagon y Atlantis, la revancha (1991).

Review posted 2 March 1998 by dwilt@umd.edu Updated: 22 Feb 2021

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