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Condorman: The Name’s Wilkens. Woody Wilkens.

Condorman2There’s a grown man standing on the top of the Eiffel Tower in a bird suit. He’s about to launch himself into the air and attempt to fly down to safety. He isn’t an escaped mental patient — he’s a comic book artist doing research.

Meet Woody Wilkins (Michael Crawford), creator and illustrator of a comic book called “Condorman,” and he won’t write or draw any storyline that he can’t prove works in real life.

Wilkins is soon asked by a friend in the CIA to assist with top secret espionage, working under the codename “Condorman,” and accidentally becomes an aid to a beautiful Russian spy named Natalia (Barbara Carrera.) In turn, Natalia becomes a character in the “Condorman” series known as “Laser Lady.”

“Condorman” was a colossal flop when it was first released in 1981. Critics panned it, the box office was pretty dismal, and it was pretty quickly forgotten. Recently rediscovered, the movie has now become something of a cult phenomenon.

Condorman1Similar to the “Austin Powers” movie franchise, “Condorman” is a campy James Bond send-up, but why “Condorman” didn’t register with audiences at the time of its release is anyone’s guess. 1981 was right in the middle of the Roger Moore era of James Bond, and was the year “For Your Eyes Only” was released. Ironically, just two years after Barbara Carrera spoofed the traditional “Bond girl” role in “Condorman,” she appeared in the legit Bond film “Never Say Never Again” with Sean Connery, and for that role was nominated for a Golden Globe. A former model and nothing short of a bombshell, Carerra delivers everything a Bond girl would in “Condorman,” but with the addition of perfect comic timing.

Besides the hilarious “cheese and camp” factor of its satirical storyline, “Condorman” offers some other things that make the film even more worthwhile to watch. The movie takes us from Paris to Istanbul, Moscow to Switzerland, and many more places including, finally, Los Angeles. Shot by Charles F. Wheeler under the direction of Charles Jarrott, the cinematography surrounding the zany storyline is pretty spectacular. The film also boasts a score written by none other than Henry Mancini. Even if the special effects are so bad that they seem at times to be part of the comic relief, the film is pretty impressively well-crafted.

Feature “Condorman” in your next retro family movie night and see what all the fuss is about!
“Condorman” is available at the Disney Store.

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