via beetlebum on the fotolog.
In 1968, Sharon was cast in The Wrecking Crew (Phil Karlson, 1969), the latest entry in a series of “Matt Helm,” spy-spoof films, based on the 1960 Donald Hamilton novel of the same name. There had been three previous Matt Helm movies, all starring singer and comedian Dean Martin. Sharon had the pressure of being a featured new player in an established franchise, and critics then were like critics now: they love to bash comedies. So it was a big deal.
via coolnessistimeless on the blogger.
Starring opposite Dean Martin, Elke Sommer, and Tina Louise, Ms. Tate got to make friends with some big names and show audiences her playful, comedically well-timed, blithe side. Though she had played a pivotal role as Malibu in the comedy Don’t Make Waves, the emphasis in that part had still been mainly on her beauty.
via the touching and well-curated SensationalSharonTate blog.
“My dear. You must be very dedicated to your work, to wear such an atrocious wig as that.”
“How very common of you to mention it.”
Wearing glasses and a series of wigs, Sharon got to have fun and be silly on the set of The Wrecking Crew, which must have been an especially welcome respite after the tough work she did for Valley of the Dolls (and the kind of trial-by-fire nightmare that set experience was.) With The Wrecking Crew, Sharon finally got the chance to delve in to the type of light comedy for which she hoped to become known in the industry.
via geminichilde on the tumblr.
The role also required some action and stunt work, another familiar feature to Sharon after working with former Mr. Universe Dave Draper in Don’t Make Waves (trampoline scene coming soon). In The Wrecking Crew, she was called to do fight scenes. None other than superfly jam-master BAMF to beat all BAMFs, a one Mister Bruce Lee trained Sharon for her part as Freya Carlson, Mr. Helm’s comically nearsighted and klutzy assistant. Joe Lewis was also a consultant on set and Chuck Norris had a cameo in the picture.
via geminichilde on the tumblr.
Playing Freya Carlson really was a departure for Ms. Tate, and one she was proud of. Tina Louise (Gilligan’s Island) and Elke Sommer (A Shot in the Dark) nailed down the voluptuous vixens — though they, too, gave great comedic lines — and Sharon got to shine in a chiefly buttoned-up, jokey ingenue role.
“Sharon Tate reveals a pleasant affinity to scatterbrain comedy and comes as close to walking away with this picture as she did in a radically different role in Valley of the Dolls.”
(The Hollywood Reporter, review of The Wrecking Crew, 1969.)
Judo … chop! Nancy Kwan as Yu-Rang takes an elbow to the head.
“It just so happens that I know where Yu-Rang hangs her kimono!”
” … I bet you do.”
Dean Martin raved about Sharon’s performance in all the on-set promo interviews, making it clear to one and all that he considered her not only a close friend but a major upcoming talent.
also via coolnessistimeless; more candids of Sharon and Dean there with lovely commentary.
Mr. Martin had played Matt Helm in a total of four movies to rocky critical acclaim but decent audience numbers (typical comedy reception), but, after Sharon’s death, he emphatically dropped out of The Ravagers, a planned fifth installment in the series whose title even appeared in the end credits for The Wrecking Crew. The film was shopped around but eventually abandoned and never made. The Wrecking Crew is the last in that series.