Synopsis by Mark Deming
Have you ever longed for the day when James Brown, Martha Raye, and Col. Harland Sanders would appear in a movie together? Well, that's barely the tip of the improbable casting iceberg in this bizarre cold-war spoof. The leaders of the American intelligence organization the S.S.A. ("Super Secret Agency") are becoming increasingly alarmed by the disappearance of a number of B-list celebrities, who are being spirited off to Communist Albania. Eager to bring the fading stars back to the Land of the Free, the S.S.A. come up with a simple plan: They'll find four typical guys in their mid-twenties, have them form a rock group, make them into international stars, and wait until they get invited to play a gig in Albania, which will allow them to find out what's become of Rudy Vallee, Butterfly McQueen, and Huntz Hall, among others. Unemployed philosopher Michael A. Miller, Native-American honor student Ray Chippeway, phys-ed major Dennis Larden, and male model Lonny Stevens are drafted by the S.S.A., and after some intensive training by experts (Trini Lopez shows them a few guitar chords, and Richard Pryor gives them a crash course in soul), they become an overnight sensation as The Phynx (yes, it's pronounced "Finks"). Their album sells 17 million copies on the strength of songs like "What Is Your Sign?," and their groupies have to be cleared away by forklift. But fun and games have to go to the back burner when Albanian ruler Markevitch (George Tobias) and his wife, Ruby (Joan Blondell), invite the Phynx to perform at the behest of their son. Pat O'Brien, Xavier Cugat, Patty Andrews, and Dick Clark are just a few of the other notables who make cameo appearances in The Phynx, which had a very brief theatrical release before being sold to television in the early '70s. Legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller penned the songs performed by The Phynx (and Stoller composed the background score), though for some reason they're not covered nearly as often as "Jailhouse Rock," "Hound Dog," or "Yakkety Yak."
behind-the-scenes, on-the-road, America, band [music group], Iron-Curtain, rock, stars [celebrities]