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Films: F is for...

Fantastic Argoman

This demented costume romp combined spy and superhero in the form of Sir Reginald Hoover: suave, pipe-smoking criminologist ensconced in a secret Thunderbirds-style island retreat by day, banana-suited telekinetic freelance secret agent equipped with vintage wrestling moves and radioactive cigarettes by night. Sir Reg was enlisted by MI5 to stop the cat-suited, hovercraft-driving Jennabel, Queen of the World stealing the Muradoff A-4, a football-sized diamond with untold laser death-ray potential. (This is quite a silly film.)



  1. George White

    February 25, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Apart from the glorious Diabolik, this is better than its rival Italian spy-superhero-villain rivals, eg Kriminal – which uses comic strip frames and shows Piccadilly cinemas showing CAST A GIANT SHADOW! before cutting to an Italian house with a policeman plonked house before devolving into the typical Italian superhero mix of parties full of extras in silly outfits, before devolving into sub-Topkapi capers, done in a such boring manner, laboured shots of foreign places and lots of padding. A lot of them try to go Avengers-ish raised “oh, I’m a deliberate cartoon” even without dubbing, e.g. exagerrated facial movements eg the Fantomas movies. Diabolik does all this but does it well, somehow pulling it off, as does Argoman, by being so demented. Even the Italian Mexican wrestler knockoff Goldface devolves into the typical Italian spy knockoff, a rented helicopter, some badly staged fistfights, exposition, some cheesecake and invariably footage of London. Argoman has all this, but it feels jokier, grander, it looks to have abigger budget than it probably did, the dubbing by Lewis Ciannelli, son of regular Man from Uncle baddie Eduardo is rather fitting, all blustery Scotland Yard men and coquettish American girls.

  2. George White

    June 16, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    Special Mission Lady Chaplin (1966) – One of the better Eurospy films, but still not a great film. Like with a lot of these films, it has unenthusiastic performances both in front of the camera, and in the dubbing. The plot is hard to follow, star Ken Clark (playing Dick Malloy in his third film) has the look of a provincial waxwork of Roger Moore, I’ve watched numerous Italian spy films, and they’re all the same. Ex-musclemen/cowboys charmlessly beating up stuntmen, driving against back projection, using shite gadgets and wooing overly made up models. This has a few novelties. Ex-Bond girl Daniela Bianchi plays the titular Lady Chaplin, a British fashion designer (hence lots of boring scenes at fashion houses), who is also a spy. She gets up various disguises, but they’re all leaden and directed like a Pink Panther knockoff. The plot, though moving from New York to London to god knows where is ultimately some sort of vague Thunderball do-over with cardboard nukes. It’s hard to tell who is the villain, though it is Kobre Zoltan (ex-Mr. Ginger Rogers Jacques Bergerac, ironically later a Revlon executive). But he has relatively little presence. Directed by Alberto De Martino, who also handled OK Connery (1967). This has a better budget than most of the Eurospy fare (less reliance on stock footage) including the two earlier Dick Malloy films (with Clark labelled as 077 but doing work more akin to a mixture of Harry Palmer and Mike Hammer), but there’s still the inevitable slapping women about (these films make Bond look like a liberal feminist).

    Umberto Lenzi’s 008 – Operation Exterminate has sequences in Egypt prefiguring Spy Who Loved Me.

    Target for Killing ~(1966) Stewart Granger plays “James Vine” (not Shonteff’s Charles Vine). Watching it, and his boss appears. “That looks like Rupert Davies. It can’t be. It is!”. I didn’t notice the fab credits. I know the BBC Maigret was successful in Europe, hence why all 52 episodes miraculously survive, despite being a BBC series from the 1960s. Also featuring Curd Jurgens AND Adolfo Celi, as well as Klaus Kinski. Most of the stars use their own voices (certainly, Granger and Jurgens do). Despite a band of villainous white-robed monks, it is boring.

    Coplan Saves His Skin (1968) – French effort with Mexican leading man Claudio Brook, better budgeted than the Italian efforts. Kinski plays a pervy sculptor. Weird scenes of hairy near-naked men lying in a bathhouse dressing dolls, and aplastic-faced cat-petting villain. Directed by Yves Boisset, it’s overlong and doesn’t really go anywhere. The sets are just ruins where the cast have camped in. Also saw elements of FX 18 – the Ken Clark Coplan film, which is a lot more dull.

    Spy In Your Eye, Jerry Cotton, Roger Browne in Password Kill Agent Gordon, all cheap or empty, with none of the fantastic that Bond brings. The Kommissar X films at least look expensive and vivid, with lots of local colour in Death is Nimble, Death is Quick (1967) and Kiss, Kiss, Kill Kill (1967), but they’re empty vessels with charmless leads. No wonder most of these films went straight to TV, because they’re quite ITC.

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