Now here is a Bond woman! With the Six Million Dollar Man!…
Luciana Paluzzi is one of a few James Bond connections in her role in the second of the Six Million Dollar Man TV movies about the crime-solving cyborg.
The Six Million Dollar Man Intro-The Solid Gold Kidnapping, Joseph Hero
The stunning Swedish actress, Britt Ekland crossed paths with Steve Austin, aka The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-78) first. In 1973, the year after she made an Agatha Christie adaptation Endless Night (1972) and the Amicus anthology, Asylum (1972), Britt Ekland starred in the first of three The Six Million Dollar Man TV movies, Wine, Women and War (1973).
The following year, Britt starred as a Bond girl in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) with that always charming, English actor, Roger Moore in his second film as James Bond. And as one of those women associated with Bond, her role as Mary Goodnight was eye candy for your dad as a fellow British agent and an (inevitable) love interest for 007.
Interestingly also in 1973, another Bond Girl starred in the second of the Six Million Dollar Man TV Movies, The Solid Gold Kidnapping (1973). Eight years previously, the sultry voiced Luciana Paluzzi had starred in the fourth James Bond film, Thunderball (1965). Thunderball boasted the shexy (h intended) charismatic, Sean Connery as this fictional British spy and her evil character, Fiona Volpe was also destined to bed the then Scottish Bond. (After a game or reference of golf, probably).
These two Bond Girl roles as Goodnight and Volpe, show just a wee bit of the versatile nature of the Bond girl role. Paluzzi’s role was as a SPECTRE honey trap and was, therefore, one of the James Bond bad gals. Her character was reimagined in the Thunderball remake, Never Say Never Again (1983) and played by one time Dallas star, the exotic fashionista, Barbara Carrera. Wikipedia adds HERE that the surname Volpe was created for Paluzzi’s character, in line with her Italian nationality and translates from Italian as a fox… which is kind of apt for this red haired on-screen vixen in a 1970s way.
It’s unclear if Paluzzi also inspired the name of her role in The Solid Gold Kidnapping, where she stars as the enigmatic, Contessa DeRojas. According to Darlin Husband translate, Roja is Spanish for red, when talking about a woman. So this surname could emulate the Bond film with another surname tribute to this fiery haired actress. Now on with my review of this TV movie which was created by Glen A Larson. This TV Movie came with a theme song belted out by none other than Dusty Springfield.
Things literally and figuratively kick off in “Mexico”, in what looks like a quarry next to a Mayan temple. Hiding behind an ancient column, you will spot our hero Steve Austin (Lee Majors), aka the bionic man. In a cunning disguise of a straw hat and carrying a pick and therefore looking just like the “natives”, he plants some explosives on a barrel of gasoline and then randomly places a bandolier on the ground. After the barrel explodes this sets off the bullets and the “natives” believe they are being attacked with the sound of gunfire (but from the bandolier). Cue smoke filled chaos.
Austin then runs – speedily – into this ancient building and he kicks – with his bionic legs – his way wall by wall to the exact place where the elderly American Ambassador Scott (David White) is being held captive (I assume using his bionic eye). Please note this is not recommended, if you roleplay this at home or even at a very old Mayan Temple.
This action really annoys the actual villain and Scott’s kidnapper, Julian Peck (John Vernon). Peck – as a non-cyborg – has to use other more explosive means to then discover that this kidnapped Ambassador has been rescued and has now escaped with the help of an unknown man with apparent superpowers…
After Austin continues to use his bionic limbs to his advantage, he and Scott escape to the roof – with Peck and some cronies in pursuit – as they literally get to the chopper and fly away… This Bionic man holding on with one hand to the helicopter escape ladder… as cyborgs do. Cue gnashing of teeth and bewilderment from Peck and his pals, as he discovers the piles of rubble in their wake and then sees them get away.
Peck then gets a bollocking from the unnamed head honcho (Maurice Evans) at
Spectre OSO, a shady organisation. Fandom tells HERE how
The organization’s base is located aboard a large cargo ship, the Hawaiian Legislator, which allows it and its members to travel undetected around the world.
Peck is also given a not so subtle warning that his job is at risk from his unnamed boss for this failed mission. One of the other men in this all-men group, Roger Ventriss (Craig Huebring) now wants to put his plan into action.
His plan is to kidnap
a Richard Burton lookalike, and a peace negotiator and diplomat, William Anderson (Leif Erickson). Then the OSO Company will demand a ransom of a billion dollars in gold bars to exchange for Anderson. Mwhahahahah. And on hearing this on-screen dialogue, this line is immediately mimicked by Darlin Husband with his finger placed next to a grin like Dr Evil from the Austin Powers movies…
Ventriss is aware that Anderson will be admitted to a Parisian hospital for a few days, and also knows that it’s a cover story. Anderson is faking illness – as he coughs into a hanky to convince others of this cover story (and this technique would never work with mothers everywhere if you want to skive from school) – and secretly meeting with the Chinese to talk about plans for World Peace.
Ventriss successfully kidnaps Anderson from his guarded room – in a way reminiscent of those opening scenes of The Cassandra Crossing (1976) – with a fake nurse, a bandaged patient on a stretcher and an ambulance. With these disguises, they dupe the press and switch Anderson with this “patient” and bundle him out of the hospital past the unsuspecting guards and Austin’s boss Oscar Goldman into the ambulance. Then on arrival at their destination, Ventriss is shot by a very peeved Peck…
Meanwhile in Aspen, murmuring some double entendres – that any James Bond would be proud of – Steve Austin is making amorous moves on a pretty blonde in a ski cabin. Just before things get super steamy, he is then phoned by cock blocker extraordinaire Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson), his head honcho at the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSO). Austin asked to return to Paris incognito.
Austin does in the same way as Anderson was kidnapped. Goldman gives him a mission to rescue the kidnapped diplomat. Meanwhile, the ransom in gold is making its way to the baddies, by train, boat etc with 32 hours and 45 minutes to go (and Austin is counting).
As Roger is the only witness to the bad guy’s identity has died, just how will they find him? Dispend all forms of disbelief now as Oscar introduces Austin to the obviously hot young female scientist, Dr Erica Bergner (Elizabeth Ashley). She girlsplains using rats and demonstrates this with three rats. She shows how a rat who hasn’t seen a maze is able to do the maze after the brain cells and memories of the rat who can do the maze are given to this rat. And then this rat then sees the other’s rat’s memories… (still with me).
She even shows how a rat who hasn’t seen this maze reacts and the rat obviously can’t do it, which feels a wee bit patronising (and is probably deflating for the rat). This is how they’ll discover the bad guy’s lair. Austin is against this idea despite being a cyborg guinea pig himself with bionic bits. Bergner believes in her science project so passionately, that she asks to try this method out. And luckily, they have access to Ventriss’ corpse…
After this transfer takes place (luckily off-screen), she gets a montage of moments from Ventriss’ life. Luckily – for us and ultimately Roger – these only include those plot pertinent moments. Yet bizarrely she sees future (!) glimpses of on-screen moments and important plot devices… a wooden lift, stock footage of Switzerland, John Vernon, a Swiss castle and… our tributed actress Luciana Paluzzi is also in those wee snippets and she is both awake and asleep…
So it’s off to Switzerland we go with Austin and Bergner where we see some familiar stock footage. Cue a running joke about Bergner being Austin’s wife with the hotel receptionist, and some near misses as Peck – who is now also in Switzerland – tries to kill Bergner and Austin. Cue more shots of Austin’s particular set of skills… and more gnashing of teeth from Peck.
Meanwhile, Austin’s OSI colleague (Terry Carter) is slowly transporting the gold from Heathrow Airport in the longest one-man road trip with over sixty containers of gold bars ever, the rat with the other rat’s brain cells behaving oddly (but Oscar believes that we shouldn’t worry Bergner with this news, as Cameron is much more important than she is) and Anderson is on a boat playing chess with his elderly kidnapper and his much younger henchwoman (as you do as a Bond inspired baddie).
After Bergner gets some random numbers in her head, she and Austin are stumped about what they mean and then bizarrely they end up in a casino. This conclusion comes after they disclude phone numbers, addresses and other more plausible references. After Bergner goes to mingle – to see if she recognises anyone in the casino – Austin is chatted up by the Contessa DeRojas (Luciana Paluzzi). As some double entendres straight out of a Bond film are given Lee Majors style…
Contessa: I’ve known several Americans. They too could only concentrate on one thing at a time. So little imagination.
Steve Austin: Well, it’s hard to believe where you’re concerned.
Then Bergner returns and slaps him for chatting Contessa DeRojas up, this is in a staged fight that only Bergner seems to know about.
Bergner reveals to Austin that Contessa DeRojas is the redhead she remembered from Roger’s thoughts… Yet, in a pothole, Bergner doesn’t recognise Julian – aka John Vernon – who is watching all of this from a nearby table. So, in his “wife”‘s bad books, Austin goes home with the Contessa DeRojas.
As Austin hangs out with Contessa DeRojas in that Swiss castle – you saw earlier – and snoops through her drawers as she sleeps (no double entendre intended), you’ll recognise that lift, scene of the sleeping De Rojas and more. Then it dawns on Austin that all roads lead back to Mexico, as time is running out…
I did enjoy this episode which had an inventive way of finding out the identity of the bad guys, it was a fun yet controversial episode. I’m surprised that the transplanting of another person’s memories was used as a trope for other movies such as Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Especially after Steve Austin’s passionate argument about the ethics concerned… as quoted HERE…
Steve Austin: You can tear a human being apart like an automobile, and completely rebuild him. New heart, new kidneys, new arms, legs, eyes. No matter how many spare parts a man gets, he’s still himself – because of his mind. He still reacts the same, he feels the same, he thinks the same. Now somebody comes along and wants to replace that part too. When you’re all finished what do you have? A bunch of parts with nothing to hold them together. But what does it prove? Except you can do it.
Dr. Bergner: What do you want to prove, Colonel?
Steve Austin: That I’m more than the sum of my parts.
But on further investigation, The Solid Gold Kidnapping, has more in common than the Bond films. Luciana Paluzzi. starred in To Trap a Spy (1964), the film adapted from the pilot for The Man from UNCLE (1964-68) TV series. She later starred with another redhead, Stefanie Powers in an episode of The Girl from UNCLE (1966-67). Napoleon Solo (in the former) and April Dancer (in the latter) were characters named by James Bond writer, Ian Fleming. Fleming was involved in the early days of planning The Man from UNCLE TV series but was let go due to his conflicting commitments to those early James Bond films.
Interestingly, Paluzzi is not the only possible connection with the Bond franchise. The Fandom site dedicated to The Six Million Dollar Man concurred with my Darlin Husband’s throwaway comment that this group of men reminded him of SPECTRE. This site says HERE...
The organization bears some similarities to SPECTRE, the criminal organization featured in the James Bond novels and movies, in that it is run by a single, shadowy leader who assigns underlings to carry out various missions. And, like SPECTRE, the organization’s apparent motive for its actions is making profit.
I believe these Bond coincidences also tied in with the themes of a film with three middle-aged mercenaries in The Wild Geese (1978). Both feature a rescue attempt to rescue a VIP, although, in The Wild Geese, it is a president that is imprisoned and some over 50-year-old mercenaries attempt to save him. This film is another flight of fantasy but stars the real Richard Burton . not a lookalike – and the man who played Bond, Roger Moore.
As for the title song for The Solid Gold Kidnapping… it reminded me of those early Bond film title songs. It was written by this show’s creator, Glen A Larson and here are those catchy lyrics…
He’s the man!
Six Million Dollar Man!
He’s the man!
Six Million Dollar Man!
Catch him if you can
Beat him if you can
Love him if you can!
Now he is the man!
Six Million Dollar Man!
Now, who does that remind you of? The Wild Geese, also had a rather groovy 1970s title also sounded like a Bond title song. And if you added all these TV Movies’ on and off-screen coincidences together, and remember to include the wee inspired role for Luciana Paluzzi that started the (Thunder)ball rolling you will see how this TV Movie made a solid gold tribute to Bond, James Bond with majors.
Weeper Rating: 😦😦 😦 😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂🙂 🙂 🙂10
Hulk Rating: /10
The Other Than A Bond Girl Blogathon, 2022
This film was added to my The Other Than A Bond Girl Blogathon with Pale Writer. Other reviews with this cast include Lee Majors in The Fall Guy, The Bionic Woman, The Love Boat, Family Guy, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Scrooged. Luciana Paluzzi starred in The Man from UNCLE. Richard Anderson in Dynasty, Fantasy Island and The Bionic Woman. Elizabeth Ashley starred in Murder She Wrote and Circle of Fear. John Vernon starred in The Ray Bradbury Theatre and Tales from the Crypt.