Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The End of Agent W4C (1967)

Compared to overloaded fiascos like Modesty Blaise and Casino Royale from the same era (I still like them, even if they are quite tiresome in the long run), The End of Agent W4C was a huge success in eastern Europe and is remarkably similar in style of comedy as it’s more well-known siblings. The only difference is that this is a genuine fun movie with jokes that never falls flat.

Jan Kacer is Cyril Juan Borguette, Agent W4C, a secret agent that refuses to kill animals, have indestructible shoes and an old-fashioned alarm clock with everything from a car key to a nuclear bomb. He also has a lot of women after him, but they never seem to make him fall for them. This time he’s on a mission to an anonymous European city (Prague, which everyone fails to keep secret) from another anonymous European city (Paris, which is shown with a photo of the Eiffel Tower with the text “An anonymous European city”) to get his hand on a secret microfilm, hidden in a salt shaker. The local secret service in Prague want that micro film too and send out the only man they have available and can afford, their bookkeeper Foustka (Jiří Sovák) who fumbles his way thru the international spy-world with his faithful little dog by his side!

This comedy makes everything the right way, for once. The characters are very likable and instead of over-acting and funny faces they act realistic and with a very fine comic timing. The character of Foustka is obviously based on Inspector Clouseau, but with less slap-stick. Czech funny man Jiří Sovák plays the character with a straight face and like Sellers never seem to realize the mayhem he creates around him. Květa Fialová is the female heroine, and even if she’s doing a straight part with nothing particularly funny to do, she’s excellent, gorgeous and sexy as the combined Olympic swimmer/secret agent. Jan Kacer is a great lead, always black sunglasses (maybe a nod, tribute, to Zbigniew Cybulski who died young the same year and was a famous handsome Polish actor known for his sunglasses), a cool beard and with deadly karate-chops!

The story itself is a mixed bag of jokes which revolves around the central MacGuffin, the salt shaker and what’s in it. This is a world where everyone is a spy or a henchman hired by a spy, and in a famous scene absolutely everyone is a spy, hiding at a restaurant – from guests to the musicians. It all ends in the traditional huge fistfight row, like in Casino Royale or in dozens after dozens of western-comedies. The jokes are non-stop, but never tiresome. It’s 85 minutes of pure, classic comedy and it still holds up very well.

The End of Agent W4C is out on a nice-looking Czech DVD with English subtitles. Well worth purchasing for the collectors of spy-movies and classics from behind the iron curtain.


dfordoom said...

Modesty Blaise is one of my all-time favourite movies, but then I love spy spoof movies. The End of Agent 4WC sounds like fun.

Tefl Secretagent said...

Maybe you'd be interested in the adventures of Kapitan Kloss - it's difficult to find the series with English subs but maybe you know a little Polish?

if not, I'll get round to subbing everything one day!