Monday, October 5, 2015

Fantomas Unleashed

Fantômas se déchaîne; crime comedy, France / Italy, 1965; D: André Hunebelle, Haroun Tazieff, S: Jean Marais, Louis de Funès, Mylène Demongeot

Police commissioner Juve is decorated for getting the world rid of the criminal Fantomas. However, that award turns out premature, since Fantomas shows up again and kidnaps a scientist working on a hypnotizing machine, with which he could control people and rule the world. Juve, journalist Fandor and his girlfriend Helene team up in order to prevent Fantomas of kidnapping another important scientist, Professor Lefebvre, by disguising Fandor as Lefebvre during a press conference in Rome. Fantomas kidnaps them all and brings them to their hideout, but they manage to free themselves and the scientists. Juve and Fandor chase the fleeing Fantomas, who escapes in a flying car.

The sequel to the megapopular crime comedy "Fantomas", based on the eponymous French novels by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, managed not only to rally the whole team from the 1st film, but also to encompass the quality of the original: a well made movie with numerous jokes that spoof the action genre, especially the stiff James Bond film series. The main highlight is again brilliant comedian Louis de Funes as commissioner Juve, who is so contagiously fun that he almost steals the show and makes every scene interesting and amusing - unfortunately, unlike de Funes, just like in the previous film, the main hero, beau Fandor, played by Jean Marais, is much more conventional and sometimes even boring, and thus the level of the storyline is not always consistent. Juve's scenes are great, Fandor's are mediocre. "Fantomas Unleashed" this time around turns into a disguise festival, and some of the best jokes arrive when Juve uses his masks to disguise his weapons, such as the hilarious coat with "three arms" or the genius scene where he cleverly eliminates two of Fantomas' thugs by giving them cigars with hidden guns in them, which activate and thus kill each other. The pace of the storyline is sometimes slow, and the execution is lukewarm at times, which is exacerbated by the rather predictable ending, yet the trilogy is still far more fun than many modern spy or crime flicks.


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