Wednesday, July 7, 2010

2 x Jean-Paul Belmondo

I'm home sick right now and took the time to dive into the world of Belmondo, the über-famous French movie star, stuntman and comedian that graced the screens for many years. Much has been written about him and his movies, so I will just write a few words about what I've seen. First out was...

... The Animal from 1977, a broad comedy with Belmondo playing two parts. First the slightly failed, but cool, stuntman Mike who just been dumped by his girl, stuntwoman Jane (Raquel Welch) and is forced to start working as a monkey at a supermarket and continue his hilarious fraud to get money from the wellfare department. His luck seems to change when an international movie production is coming to Paris, it's the superstar Bruno Ferrari that will shoot his new action-adventure there and he needs a stuntman! Mike sees his change to prove to Jane that he's a successful stuntman and hopefully get her back too!

The Animal is a very funny movie, but also very light and with very little depth. The comedy is sometimes, as European movies from the seventies, quite non-PK and this means that Mike imitates a mentally handicapped man in a wheelchair to get his wellfare money and Bruno Ferrari (also played by Belmondo) is the typical sissy stereotype of a gay man! But most people are stereotypes here, from the womanzing Italian director to Mike's own macho-attitude as a stuntman. It's an expensive movie that also looks expensive, and the set-pieces with stunts and comedy is big and crazy. A lot of laughs, and I can recommend it with out any hesitation.

Ah, and we're also treated to cameos by Jane Birkin, Johnny Halliday and Claude Chabrol too + probably a bunch of other French superstars that I have no idea who they are.

Fear over the City (1975) is the total opposite. No laughs here, but a serious attempt to make a French Dirty Harry-movie with Belmondo as Jean Letellier, a very tough cop that threatens people with death and violence a bit to often. A serial killer is terroizing the city, he's murdering women and teases the police with letters and phone calls. Letellier is of course after him, but at the same time he wants to catch a dangerous bank robber that nearly got himself fired from the force!

The only bad thing with Fear over the City is that it's a bit to overlong. It don't have the same energy all the time as The Animal for example (or like the original Dirty Harry), but it's still a masterpiece of European crime-cinema. The most famous thing about this movie is the chase-scenes which is among the best I've seen, and they all look terrible dangerous. Belmondo do most of the stunts himself, which makes it look even more terrifying, and when he runs around on top of roofs, almost falling down, it looks very realistic. One chase is almost thirty minutes long and ends on top of a subway-train! The killer himself is a nasty guy (with one eye too!), and the perfect enemy of Belmondo.

These movies are very different, but was a perfect double feature. What amazes me is the stunts that Belmondo do himself. It really looks dangerous, very dangerous! In The Animal there's a lot of smaller stunts which seems even crazier than the ones in the movie their making. Belmondo has a rare talent that he can handle both slapstick and brutal action in the same excellent way. I'm impressed.


Anonymous said...

Did you watch them both yesterday? Cause i did =)
I freaking love Fear of the City, and would choose it before Dirty Harry everyday. Yeah it´s a bit too long, but the cool action and wonderful locations are stunning, and just look at that 70s style furnitures. Everything with that movie is so cool despite i got the english dubbed one. But they actually could dubb movies back then. The Animal isn´t quite my cup of tea. It sure has great locations and have som funny moments, but it almost gets silly(sorry Raquel), and Belmondo fits in the more serious movies. Lucky me that i finished up with the Professional, it´s a great actionmovie with the best soundtrack ever by Morricone, and this one wasn´t dubbed either. There is something with Belmondomovies that i like. Probably the stunts, and just the style of the action. Does anyone know where i can find "Le Marginal" by the way? I would also recommend the movie "the man from Rio" with Belmondo. Great movie from 1964.

Ninja Dixon said...

Yes, both of them was yesterday :)

Actually, the dubbing on both of these was very good. I also only have the english versions (on Thai dvd, but great quality) and I was surprised what a wonderful job they did with the dubbing.

I forgot to the mention the cool Morricone-soundtrack on Fear over the City!

The Animal isn't everyones cup of tea, but I'm quite fond of European comedies from the sixties and seventies (Louis De Funes, Spencer & Hill and so on), so I had a good time here.

Anonymous said...

I love all De Funes and Spencer & Hill aswell so maybe i will give it one more chance =) I am just so used to see more of the serious and tough side of Belmondo.
Yes i have the Thaidvds aswell, superb quality. Check out the Professional if you haven´t seen it.

dfordoom said...

Jean-Paul Belmondo and Raquel Welch together? I must see that one.

Another Belmondo movie worth seeing is Borsalino.