Dean Martin (and the ladies)Though turning a series of books about a tough, hard-boiled government operative who looked like Clint Eastwood into a series of spoofs starring Dean Martin was a very, very odd idea, the resulting films are, if not good, immensely entertaining. I'm talking, of course, about the Matt Helm series - produced with blinding speed (the first three were made and released between 1966 and 1967), the movies came out when Martin's swingin' persona was, while perhaps a bit worn, still fully marketable, and he grinned, flirted, and drank his way through them with aplomb.

People wanting to see good action flicks should stay far away from these, but those of us who are fans of Martin and somehow still like him even in his most sexist screen moments are quietly celebrating the pending release of Sony's Matt Helm Lounge, which brings the complete set of four Helm films (The Silencers, Murderers' Row, The Ambushers, and The Wrecking Crew) to R1 DVD for the first time. The set is due out on December 6 - in a collectible box. Woo hoo!