All that really needs to be said about the 1970 cult film The Phynx is, if your thing is stratospheric badness, this movie is for you. This film gives Cannonball Run II a run for its money. Its only redeeming feature is the movie debuts of Rich Little and Sally Struthers.
The Phynx's real features is a list of cameos, which exceeds even Cannonball Run II's. The parade of aging stars including Patty Andrews of The Andrews Sisters, Busby Berkeley and the Original Golddiggers, Xavier Cugat and his Chihuahua, John Hart as The Lone Ranger, Jay Silverheels, Ruby Keeler, George Jessel and former heavyweight and legendary boxing champ Joe Lewis.
We can’t forget to mention Marilyn Maxwell of Clarinda, Iowa, Maureen O’Sullivan and Johnny Weismuller AKA Jane and Tarzan. Others who show up are Harold Sakata – better known as Goldfinger's henchman Oddjob – Ed Sullivan, and James Brown. Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall make their last appearance as the main Bowery Boys. Patsy Kelly and Guy Lombardo join Gone With the Wind Oscar winner Butterfly McQueen. Richard Pryor is there, and Harlan Sanders–AKA Col. Sanders serves chicken out of a bucket.
Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy sit together and cry. Dick Clark, Andy Devine and Dorothy Lamour join in. Trini Lopez, Pat O’Brien and Clint Walker round out the crew.
All that's missing is a Don Knotts walk–on.
The premise of The Phynx (you can't call it a plot) is that a group of super spies – Michael A. Miller, Ray Chipperway, Dennis Larden and Lonny Stevens, whose movie careers were dead at birth as a result of this movie – train as a rock band so they can go on tour in Albania to locate a group of kidnapped celebrities. Think a Get Smart mashup with This is Spinal Tap.
The first hour drags along, filled with relentless jokes, sight gags, songs that make “Hey, Hey We're the Monkees” seem like a Shakespearian sonnet (example: “I've Got Them Feelin' Too Good Today Blues”), and a detour to find three women with maps tattooed on their bellies – an excuse for lots of on–screen female epidermis. In the last 20 minutes the big stars show up to be rescued from a medieval castle by our heroes – who trash the historic fortress on the way out.
What drew this cast to this project? It couldn’t have been the script, which they no doubt weren't allowed to read. It wasn’t the paycheck, as this film looks like the entire budget wouldn’t have been enough in 1970 to buy a used VW Beetle. Maybe it was the other big stars. Maybe it was one more chance to be on screen – Love Boat was seven years in the future.
For cult movie lovers and bad movie fans, The Phynx is a real treat that plumbs the depths and definitely belongs in the Bad Movie Hall of Fame along with Plan 9 From Outer Space. For everybody else, it's a chance to see this group of greats assembled in one place, and the few real classic moments they give us are not to be missed.
In the year the film was “released,” it wasn’t. Warner Bros. thought it was so bad it never saw the light of day. In 2012 it was finally released on DVD.
You can watch it on Amazon Instant Video or iTunes for $3, or download it for $7. Or buy the DVD direct from Warner Bros. Archive for $17.
Rated 1.0 out of 4.0 for moviemaking, but 4.0 out of 4.0 for star power. Shows you star power may not be enough to save a film.