Finally, I found the strength to emerged from the wolf den. I’d put myself in a sadness of solitude after hearing the heartbreaking news of the passing of the delectable Raquel Welch. Taking myself off into a 3 day mourning period. I wiggled my hips as I squeezed my large frame into a star spangled two piece bikini and then proceeded to wail and howl in the darkness. You see, Raquel was my first, true, love…
Young Mikey wolf cub had sat innocently playing with his train track in the middle of the lounge floor as Mum and Dad watched TV. It was around the festive holidays when this angel appeared on the screen. Dressed in green, in fact I believe she wore a Christmas elf costume. This enchanting lady captured my heart. Around me the trains derailed at a crossing and flew across the room, smashing in a heap. I didn’t care. My eyes lit up wide, my mouth mumbling words trying to speak, “Who lady that is?” pointing at the tv transfixed. Instantly I had became a man. I was probably 9 years old.
The mind meddles with you over time and I probably have it all askew but my first encounter with my Raquel was something like that. Around that same time she would follow up that brief encounter and literally blow this young wolf’s head clean off with her beauty. Corrupting my adolescent mind as she grunted a few words and ran across the screen in a fur-skinned bikini and fist fought other like minded, scantily clad, prehistoric ladies. It was, of course, One Million Years BC (1966). It’s safe to say, Raquel did funny things to me. The next film was Fantastic Voyage (1966) and mixing Raquel with my other love, science fiction, she was forever cemented as my top girl. Others came close but Raquel always reigned supreme for me.
Tagline – She’s A Sky Diving Darling Built For Action!
As tribute I wanted to marvel at her, acting assets, with a film I hadn’t seen before. Well, I lie a little, I’ve watched the intro on many occasions but didn’t get much further. No way it can beat a certain Barbarella (1968) opening scene. That’s mission impossible! Jane Fonda completely smashed that a year later, however, it has a similar vibe to it. All played out with Miss Raquel packing away her parachute, in her undies of course…
The film in question is Fathom (1967). Raquel Welch plays our hero Fathom Harvill. This all American skydiver was touring Europe with her teammates. She’s happy gliding and smiling away in the Spanish skies until she decides it’s time to leave. Getting picked up by Timothy (Richard Briers) whom she believes is her driver. With a detour she suddenly realises he’s not taking her to the hotel! He assures her that he’s British intelligence and along with his superior, Colonel Campbell (Ronald Fraser) they inform her they needed her specialist skill set to help save the world from impending nuclear war!
These two Brits work for an organisation called H.A.D.E.S aka Headquarters Allied Defences, Espionage, and Security. Intelligence states that two Hong Kong double agents, Jo-May (Greta Chi) and Peter Merriwether (Anthony Franciosa) were in truth working for the Chinese government. In their possession, they were believed to have, a vital control device for an atomic bomb. Living a pretend happy family lifestyle within a small community it had become impossible to retrieve reliable information. In steps the need for Fathom. They required her to parachute into the compound “by accident” saying she had been blown off course. On arrival she can activate a recording device to eavesdrop on the two spies.
Tagline – Get Set For A Free-Fall With … FATHOM!
As you can imagine, things don’t go to plan. With more dodgy people turning up it’s hard to keep up with the plot. With even co-star Richard Briers quoted to claim in interviews that he finds the plot of this movie hard to Fathom.? But come on! Is anyone here for the story? Not when you try and Fathom where our divine star is getting all her snazzy prime colour outfits from? I guess they are so skimpy she squeezed them all in her purse? And you spend all the glorious run-time stood, transfixed, like I was back at the beginning of this story as a young wolf boy on the edge of manhood. Staring at her ample elegant charms mumbling words like “Eye Carumba” “Dear God!” “Praise Ye The Lord!”
A Few Random Things…
- There’s two reasons Fathom is called Fathom. The first “Hey Senorita, how did you ever get a name like Fathom?” a reporter asks. Fathom answers with a cheeky grin “A fathom is six feet. Papa was hoping for a tall son. Papa was disappointed.“… The second, even stranger, she’s named after all her Uncles first initials, Freddie, Arthur, Tom, Harry, Oscar, and Milton. OK!
- Richard Briers will be known to many Brits, of a certain age, for the sitcom classic The Good Life (1975/78) and the voice narration for children shows Noddy (1975) and Roobarb and Custard (1974) and the devastating Watership Down (1978) to name a few.
- Throw into the mix a crazier than a bag of frogs, Russian called Sergi Serapkin (Clive Revill). Who goes full Peter Sellers as a strange heat needing skin suit monocle wearing fruit loop. “Miss Harvill, I must have heat; but, I dislike firecrackers.“
- The soundtrack is by British composer and jazzman John Dankworth.
- The character is based on a novel called A Girl Called Fathom by Larry Forrester written in the same year as the film. Yet in that book she’s a tough cookie who is given the option to become a counter espionage agent or go to prison. With a different mission against the Soviets. Also I don’t believe her skydiving skills are mentioned. It is stated that Forrester had started a 2nd novel called Fathom Heavensent. I guess whilst doing the screenplay, using the films storyline but it was never published.
- Novelist Larry Forrester would go on to co-write the screenplay for Tora, Tora, Tora (1970) after Fathom.
- Director Leslie H Martinson film before Fathom was the fun camp classic Batman: The Movie (1966) along with working on the series.
Is Fathom any good? Well if you went and read that two bit film critic charlatan Roger Ebert (it’s here) you’d find that he gave it a thumbs down zero! Yes zero. And he gives our Raquel a right smashing! Huff! What does he know…. Hehe, ok it’s pretty bad, made worse for being pretty confusing and having a McGuffin but hey, you know what? I really enjoyed it. Come on! Who’s here for plot? I’m only here for sweet Raquel.
Rest in peace Raquel. You made this here wolf boy a very happy man. x