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Friday, August 26, 2016

Fantomas (1964)

A master of disguise (Jean Marais) by the name of Fantomas is the talk of Paris because of his daring crimes and the inability for the police to catch him. He becomes enraged when a journalist (Jean Marais) fabricates an interview with him for a newspaper and kidnaps him with the intent of making the police think the journalist is the notorious Fantomas. Directed by Andre Hunebelle and based on the series of novels (a total of 32) by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre which began in 1911. Its best known film incarnation is the six chapter serial by Louis Feuillade from 1913. This version was a huge hit in Europe and spawned two sequels. It's much lighter in tone than the original books. It's more of a spoof of the spy genre though not as good as the same year's THAT MAN IN RIO which did the same thing. The aging Marais (Cocteau's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST)  was over 50 when he did FANTOMAS and doesn't quite cut the swashbuckling image of an action hero though to his credit, it appears he did a lot of his own stunts. The film's most amusing moments belong to Louis De Funes as the frustrated police commissioner. The film's last half hour or so is an elongated chase by auto, train, helicopter, boat and motorcycle which while visually attractive loses its steam quite quickly. With the lovely Mylene Demongeot as the romantic interest but under utilized. 

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