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In order to love Fathom you have to really dig Raquel Welch — really dig her. You have to own every book about her or claim she's one of cinema's most underrated actresses or be the first guy she dumped to sit glued to this movie without boredom taking over. Yes, it's exciting to watch the bikini-clad Rock-Rock-Raquel in her prime tossing her lustrous mane aboard boats, motorcycles, or in a bull pen, but you're not desperate, are you? In terms of hot '60s sirens, there are better options (And God Created Woman, Barbarella... basically just about anything Roger Vadim directed). We also have some dirtier, more daring pictures. Fathom is clean, which was probably the point — a sex farce for young boys who hide underwear ads under their beds at night, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Part of the mid-to-late-'60s infiltration of spy spoofs (yes, they made these before Austin Powers ), Fathom is an espionage comedy of sorts, a colorful, nicely costumed dose of the forced madcap that feels tired before its time. But it opens with promise. The film title rounds over Fathom's (Welch) impressively formed body, and the credits continue to roll as she simply folds a parachute. A lovely sequence, sans explosions, men with monocles, or speedboats, we realize why these movies are so attractive. They are just so graphically beautiful, so good looking, so sunny, that you find yourself wishing you could slip on some lavender go-go boots and walk out the door into the same world (ahhh... the sometimes insane power of movies). But the moment Fathom starts talking, it's easy to grow weary. Though Welch has been good in other films, she's particularly flat here. No winks, like the great Monica Vitti in another '60s spy spoof, Modesty Blaise, and not sexy enough, in spite of her attributes. Welch needed lessons from the Terry Southern-written, Christian Marquad-directed sex comedy Candy, where star Ewa Aulin was so expertly lost and dumb and erotic we adored her. There's none of that type of effective flatness here, as Raquel is pulling a Cindy Crawford in Fair Game, which downs her sex appeal. Oh yes, the plot? Fathom is crammed with everything, but to simplify, the story has an American skydiver in Europe (that's Fathom) recruited by a secret government agency to parachute into Spain to capture a war defector (Tony Franciosa) and an H-bomb detonator. The spunky dental hygienist (still Fathom) gets into funky situations a-plenty, from gross men attempting to sleep with her, to grabbing diamonds in the ocean, to shoving villains out of an airplane and flying the thing herself. And of course, love happens. And so on and so on. The problem with Fathom is in its pacing. Action sequences take much too long for the short attention-span best courted here. But perhaps director Leslie H. Martinson intentionally dragged his film out — that way people making out at the drive-in couldn't miss anything. A decent idea, if we still went to drive-ins. Fox's DVD release of Fathom presents a gorgeous anamorphic transfer (2:35:1), showing off the vivid color cinematography perfectly. The English audio comes in both Dolby Stereo (2.0) and mono (2.0), with French and Spanish mono as well. Trailers for this one, Modesty Blaise, Our Man Flint and In Like Flint. Keep-case.
—Kim Morgan

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