Wednesday, November 9, 2011

FANTÔMAS - Michel Magne - "Super Thief & Master Lover" (1964)

I admit it, I'm a sucker for movies with one word names, what the strange fascination is, I have no clue, except it means I get to watch some extra cool European flicks. There's a whole slew of them, some we've done, and some are yet to come. When one word says it all, that's as good as it gets, like "KRIMINAL," "SATANIK," "DIABOLIQUE," or tonight's feature, "Fantômas"!!!

Yes, believe it or not, there was a time when people would stand outside of department store windows, and gawk at the wonder of that miracle called TV!! The dynamite music in the background is by composer Michel Magne, who wrote the music for the trilogy of 60's Fantômas flicks, as part of his 89 film scores before passing away at 54 in 1984!

There's been quite a crime wave going on, and some ultra mysterious cat named Fantômas is the guy behind it all, but it's okay, because this guy being interviewed on the televison, Commissaire Juve, has it all under control!

Or that's what he'd like you to think anyway!

A journalist by the name of Fandor decides to write a fake article and interview with Fantômas to create some action! One minute he's in his cool bachelor pad, and the next..........

....moment he finds himself regaining consciousness in some vast underground digs!!

Enter onto the scene, the one and only Fantômas!! And he's pissed!!

The character of Fantômas has a unbelievable rich and colourful history in French film-making dating ALL the way back to 1913 and the film entitled "Fantômas - À L'Ombre De La Guillotine!" Next, there were three versions titled strictly "Fantômas" in 1920, 1932, and 1947!

There was this 1964 version and two followup sequels with the same basic cast, "Fantômas Se Déchaîne" in 1965, and "Fantômas Contre Scotland Yard" in 1967, and I guess there's one planned still for this year, and I counted at least 13 more titles that have come out over the years, and yet Fantômas is still basically an unknown commodity in America!

Another thing that is quite interesting is that many of the versions of "Fantômas" have actors playing more than one part, like in this series, Jean Marais not only plays the journalist Fandor, but he is also, yeah, you got it, Fantômas!! When Fandor reawakens in his loft, he thinks the whole thing was just a nightmare, but then oh, F, where did this F come from?

Here's where the rub comes for me! Louis de Funès as Commissaire Juve is just as obnoxious as Hell! Check this guy out, and it will be very clear to you why they love Jerry Lewis in France! Maybe there's something wrong with my funny-bone, but sometimes I just don't get it!! A little bit would be okay, but it just goes on for too long, and he's a reoccurring character, so he's pretty hard to avoid!

Another reoccurring character in the films is the steady girlfriend of Fantômas, Lady Beltham!

This time around Lady Beltham was played by Marie-Hélène Arnaud, a Chanel model who graced the cover of Life Magazine in 1957!

So here's the deal, since Fantômas can assume the identity of virtually anybody, he's decided to look like Fandor, go out and get in a lot of trouble, and Fandor gets blamed! Nice collection of heads, I mean masks, you gotta admit!

Commissaire Juve has issued the challenge to Fantômas to try and steal a bunch of jewels!

There's going to be a big fashion show with super models wearing the jewels, unfortunately the Commissaire can't even control his own people!

So after Fantômas pulls off that little stunt, he then puts on a mask that makes him look like the Commissaire himself!

He goes to a threatre where they are having a show about Fantômas, and riddles the place with bullets from a machine gun in front of tons of witnesses!

I've got to admit that it's pretty funny when the witnesses put together a police sketch, and it comes out looking exactly like the Commissaire!!!

I love this shot of the stunned witnesses when they discover that the Commissaire is also the culprit!!

Lady Beltham gives Fandor and his girlfriend Hélène played by Mylène Demongeot, an escape vehicle, but they soon find out she's no lady as the car careens out of control down a steep mountain road!

The gorgeous Mylène Demongeot has continued her acting career right up into 2011! She is also a published author!

The film ends with a long involved chase scene that includes everything from stolen cars to trains to motorcycles!

The authorities and Commissaire Juve don't stand a ghost of a chance! Fantômas owns his own private submarine, and the dumbass Commissaire can't remember how to swim, but he'll get saved somehow, remember there's still two more sequels!! If you ask nicely, you can probably get any Fantômas flick you want to see over at "The Web Of Mystery"!


Mr. Banane said...

I know the Fantomas films of course also from the German television. I like good old Louis de Funès. It is amusing that the films in the German synchronisation even better than in the French original tone sound ^^ there is natural the view thing ^^

TABONGA! said...

The part with the police sketch of the Commissaire kills!

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