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THE DAY THE FISH CAME OUT (1967).

Director Michael Cacoyannis first made waves in the early-'60s with his award-winning ZORBA THE GREEK. But one can only wonder what type of delayed drug seizure caused this wrongheaded nuclear black-comedy. I remember trying to watch this flick when I was a pre-teen, and even then, I realized it sucked on a grande scale. At least director-producer-writer Cacoyannis had the good sense to start it off with typically-trippy Maurice Binder opening credits. From there on, it's a mind-boggling mess... The "Who greenlighted this shit?" plot begins when a military plane (on a secret mission) takes a watery nose-dive near an insignificant Greek island and jettisons their highly-radioactive cargo into the drink. Oops! The usually respectable Tom Courtenay (BILLY LIAR) and Colin Blakely star as the crew, who swim to safety and end up stumbling about the rocky island in only their damp underpants. Enter Sam Wanamaker as the commander of the clandestine rescue mission, which poses as a bunch of "colorful" tourists who want to open a hotel on this desolate rock. In reality, their primary concern is locating the highly-dangerous "Container Q" -- unaware that it's been found by an idiot goat-herder, who's trying to open up the deadly box with an ax! Unfortunately, this government infiltration of fake 'hotel builders' inadvertently turns this sleepy island into an instant tourist trap, which only adds to the absurdity. For (hetero)sex-appeal, 21-year-old Candice Bergen co-stars in the 'pre-credible' role of Electra Brown, an in-heat archaeologist's assistant who sports an eye-popping array of hip boots, hot pants, skimpy tops, and ultra-chic Barbarella-wear. Hey, at least Candice has had her fair share of comparable bombs, like OLIVER'S STORY; meanwhile multi-award-winning Courtenay looks like he plans on disemboweling his agent for spending most of the movie in a dirty white speedo. Amidst dull spies, dim-witted villagers, and those two starving morons in their undies, it transforms into a nuke-fueled beach-party fiasco when this island peasant finally busts into "Q", dumps it into the sea and poisons the village's water supply -- with all of the fish dying (hence the title) and the populace partying toward a big, underwhelming finale. No question, it sucks!...Numbingly misguided, you get the feeling Cacoyannis watched DR. STRANGELOVE one too many times while stoned and mistook himself for a Greek Kubrick. In truth, he's more like a Greek Joel Schumacher, what with all of the scantily-clad leads and pretty boys in faggy garb (not to mention, he was also the costume designer!). In fact, the mostly-shirtless government search team looks more like a gay porn casting call. No matter what the inspiration, this is a colorful yet teeth-grinding chunk of late-'60s cinemanure.

© 1999 by Steven Puchalski.