Monday, August 22, 2011

Argoman aka The Incredible Paris Incident 1967 ** 1/2

Dir: Sergio Greico

Stars: Roger Browne, Dominique Boschero, Edoardo Fajardo

Argoman, Argoman, does whatever an Argo can. And he's got radioactive...cigarettes? Yes, one of the ingenious devices the hero of this film carries is a tiny geiger counter which can track a person that has smoked one of the radioactive cigarettes he offers them. Best of all, however, is his power of telekenesis which turns out quite useful for either getting out of a trap, making an aircraft crash, or in one case, literally picking up chicks. In his civilian identity as Sir Reginald, he pulls an attractive girl off a hovercraft and into his swinging lair, where, rather than waste time with normal wooing procedures, he challenges her to an archery contest; if she wins she gets a Rolls Royce and some emeralds, if she loses than she gets to be another of suave Sir Reginald's conquests. She loses, naturally, prompting Reggie's allegedly Indian manservant to point out Argoman's one weakness - for six hours after an act of love, he will completely lose his powers.

In many films the "MacGuffin" is a large jewel, and it is no different here, in fact it is a jewel about the size of a pumpkin which also has an interesting power - if a laser beam is passed through it, things nearby will be rendered soft and pliable. According to nervous scientists discussing the jewel, this could have limitless applications. I'll take their word for it.

It's not long before a beautiful but evil woman - who as it happens is the very one Reginald slept with earlier - has an army of ominously clad henchman steal the jewel and, just for fun, strap Argoman's new girlfriend to a table and leave a giant robot slowly advancing on her. Fortunately Argoman leaps to the rescue.

The film has some unique aspects among superhero films, perhaps the most unique being that, while Argoman is willing to put his powers to use for the good of the world, he is also apparently an actual jewel thief. Well, we can't all be born billionaires, and makes him a bit different from the usual Batman wannabe - in fact, in the more recent comics this is much how Catwoman is portrayed, goodhearted jewel thief.

The actors in it are lively and the hero's powers are very amusing. Roger Browne is actually quite a capable leading man. It's slowed somewhat by a few longish, talky, scenes, but the campy action, costumes, and the almost non-stop groovy soundtrack - with upbeat perfume ad-style vocals - definitely push it along.

Speaking of Italian movie soundtracks of the sixties and seventies, a topic never far from my mind, a friend recently turned me on to this band from Milan, who make great soundtrack style instrumentals.

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