Marie Chantal contre Dr. Kha (1965)

aka Marie Chantal vs. Dr. Kha, The Blue Panther
Article 3551 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-12-2011
Posting Date: 5-5-2011
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Featuring Marie Laforet, Francisco Rabal, Serge Reggiani
Country: Spain / France / Italy / Morocco
What it is: Spy comedy/thriller

An adventuress/sportswoman comes into possession of a brooch called the Blue Panther, and finds herself targeted by spies intent on getting their hands on the item.

I found this one was described as something of a James Bond style spy thriller, though the description doesn’t quite fit. This is not to say that it doesn’t borrow somewhat from those movies; we have a supervillain, eccentric henchmen (my favorite is the Russian spy who takes orders from his preteen child), and a certain amount of gadgetry on hand. But the central element – a superspy hero – is not present; Marie Chantal is not a spy, but just a woman who has gotten caught up in the espionage. Furthermore, the tone is markedly different from what we’d expect in a Bond film; in fact, if this movie is aiming for anything in particular, I think it’s charm, and for what it’s worth, it does have that, for I find the movie quite charming. This is not to say that the movie is totally successful; it’s a little too murky around the edges, and it’s not quite satisfying, especially near the ending, when the escape from the fortress of the supervillain occurs with far too much ease. Still, I really like Akim Tamiroff’s supervillain, Dr. Kha, a man of such sharp intelligence that he can predict what people are going to do. The reason he is foiled by Marie Chantal is because she is unpredictable. As heroine and villain, they’re a good match, and I actually feel kind of sad the that the sequel it sets itself up for at the end never materialized.

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