Wednesday, February 15, 2012

077 Bob Fleming - Vår Man i Casablanca (1966)

I'm sure Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli had no idea what they did when they unleashed the first James Bond-movies on the world. Oh, I'm sure they expected to earn a lot of money, but they also more or less gave all the small-time producers a good reason to make their own quick bucks. I'm not even sure it's possible to count all the spy movies being made in Italy with different hunky actors pretending to me someone who could compete with Sean Connery. The great Antonio Margheriti directed Killers Are Challenged (077 Bob Fleming - Vår Man i Casablanca in Sweden) sequel to Luciano Martino's The Spy Killers and one year later it also got another sequel, the cool Fury in Marrakesh.

Like always, the story is weak. This time a crime organization wants to take control over a formula that would make every kind of poisonous energy unnecessary (gasoline for example) and their last person to kidnap and kill is Dr Coleman. But of course, the US government doesn't want this to happen (which is kinda ironic, because nowadays they do everything to get their hands on the oil!) and sends Bob Fleming, their top spy, to take over Coleman's identity and stop the sinister plan! He travels to Casablanca and meets up with Coleman's wife, and the rest of the movie is more or less one long excuse to show him avoid getting killed by different henchmen! Gotta love the Italians!

The biggest problem with these low-budget Bond-rip off's is the obvious lack of budget. Because of the money-issue they could never afford to have big action set-pieces like the real Bond-movies and the locations are few (but one is often very exotic) and everything just looks less polished and a lot cheaper. But what to without money? The question is very simple:

Fistfights. Lots of them.

And if there was something Margheriti could handle like a master it was action an the fights he directed in this one ranks among the best I've seen. The two highlights are first the hotel-fight which looks gorgeous in this nice widescreen-DVD from Njuta Films and also has some awesome spectacular moves. The second one is the most famous, a looooong and Spencer/Hill-esque bar-fight - filled with crazy stunts, slapsticks (which is funny for once) and lots of people bashing each other in the heads with chairs, bottles and everything else they can find in the scenery. It also has a "funny" dwarf, which just adds to the absurdity.

The third highlight with the movie is the always excellent casting of Richard Harrison in the lead. He was during this time a very handsome man, sexy and hunky - and with that perfect tongue-in-cheek approach to the material. He's also a great action-man and knew how to look good in a slim tie, an expensive suit and beating the shit out of a baddie at the same time. He never became the same heavy as Connery, but he's still one of the best Bond-imitators in the biz.

The DVD from Njuta Films looks grainy, but very watchable. It has English soundtrack and in glorious widescreen! Get it!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a cool movie....haven´t seen it.

What´s next...?

Any Wuxia films to review...?

Ninja Dixon said...

Hate is a strong word, but I'm very close to hating Wuxia movies :) Or bored, so it won't show up on my blog for a long while :)

Anonymous said...

Ninja: Wow...had no about Le dossier 51 (1978)....good old fashioned conspiracy Executive Action (1973)...seen that film ?

Anonymous said...

Actually Hill could have been a quite good Bond i think. But he wasn´t famous enough in the UK i guess. Slim, slick, funny and even quite handsome. Oh well, we have to live with the boring slapsticks with Hill/Spencer =)

Magnus Sundström said...

Nice review, I just wish that I could have released it myself.. but I'm happy that Njutafilms wanted to take over the films...

Ninja Dixon said...

Yeah, it's a pity, but without you we would never have seen these movies on DVD!