JARRETT. Made for TV movie, 17 March 1973. Glenn Ford, Anthony Quayle, Forrest Tucker, Laraine Stephens, Yvonne Craig, Richard Anderson. Screenplay: Richard Maibaum. Directed by Barry Shear. Apparently available only on collector-to-collector DVD.

   You don’t get dumber than this made for television pilot released as a feature film. That’s a given.

   Certainly it has more than a little going for it despite its failures. Glenn Ford is Sam Jarrett (a good paper could be written on the number of times Ford played guys named Sam), a former middle weight boxing champ turned private investigator who specializes in rarities, everything from ancient texts to furniture to paintings and comic books (which figure in the plot a bit).

   He’s been hired by a group of scholars to find and authenticate the Book of Adam and Eve, a Biblical text that predates the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also after the scrolls is collector Cosmo Bastrop (Anthony Quayle), an outsized James Bondian villain (not surprising as Richard Maibaum who wrote the screenplay for the early Bond films wrote the teleplay) with a collection of comic book villain assistants and his own private island (Karageorge played by Lee Kolima as a wanna be Odd Job and Joseph Paul Herrera as Ignook Bastrop’s giant Inuit butler).

   The villains, including an Arab in a burnoose and an albino, play like a perverse version of YMCA.

   Bastrop is serious about the scrolls. He already planted a cobra in Jarrett’s Venice Beach home to try to stop him.

   It’s that kind of film.

   Phony Reverend Vocal Simpson (Forrest Tucker) claims to have the scrolls and is founding his church on the idea. When Jarrett shows up at a revival Bastrop is there posing as a film maker trying to buy the rights to the scrolls from Simpson while his men, foiled by Jarrett, try to kidnap Luluwa (Yvonne Craig) who dances naked as Eve with a snake during the revival.

   Next Jarrett heads for Sigrid Larsen (Laraine Stephens) whose father found the original scrolls. She has no idea where they might be but when Bastrop’s men show up all the steal from her home is an old metal frame bed that belonged to her father.

   Shortly after that the scrolls show up in Simpson’s possession only to be brought to Jarrett by Luluwa, but when tested they seem to be fakes.

   Jarrett and Sigrid are led to Bastrop’s island fortress when they figure out Bastrop planted the scrolls on Simpson and faked the test to lead them off the trail. Once there he gives them a tour of his comic book collection (he collects everything) with a special emphasis on his favorite comic book, The Flintstones.

   Leading to the finale when Jarrett in scuba gear returns to the island with a couple of muscle builder friends from Venice Beach as back up to recover the scrolls from Bastrop’s comic book files — guess where?

   Jarrett has one other Bondian trait than being devastating to women, a penchant for gadgets.

   No, it doesn’t make much more sense than that.

   Not for a moment.

   Ford is miscast, Tucker overacts terribly and has some lame line readings, Stephens seems to think she is in a real movie, it all borders on the worst kind of camp …

   And it is for all that, fun in a stupid way, because Ford, Quayle, and Craig all seem to recognize how silly the whole thing is and settle in to have fun. They are relaxed, playful, aware there is nothing they can do to save this, but determined to make it as much fun as they can.

   Whether Maibaum’s teleplay started this bad is another question, because there is some decent dialogue here and there, especially from Quayle’s over the top Bastrop. Maibaum complained the Jarrett role was meant for a much younger actor than Ford and that somehow messed things up, but I can’t see this working just because someone younger than Ford played the lead.

   Frankly the part of this film that halfway works is that Glenn Ford’s easy charm and Anthony Quayle’s playful deliberate over acting along with Yvonne Craig’s campy country seductress they are the only reason to watch this.