Fantomas vs. Scotland Yard (1967)

aka Fantomas contre Scotland Yard
Article 4368 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-16-2013
Directed by Andre Hunebelle
Featuring Jean Marais, Louis de Funes, Mylene Demongeot
Country: France / Italy
What it is: Supervillain comedy

Fantamos embarks on a new scheme by which he extorts the rich with a “tax” which they must pay for the right to remain alive. The victims attempt to defeat him by setting a trap for him at a Scottish castle by bringing in his enemies, Juve and Fandor.

This is the last of the three Fantomas movies from the mid-sixties. I remember being blindsided by the first one, since I wasn’t expecting a comedy. I enjoyed the second one more, since I knew what to expect at that point. I’m afraid the disappointment returns with this one, at least partially because this movie blindsided me as well; the first half of this movie is, for all intents and purposes, an “old dark house” movie, with Juve staying in a haunted mansion and becoming the person who keeps finding dead bodies that disappear when he tries to tell anybody else. I will fess up to being fond of “old dark house” movies, but, to my mind, this is a real step down for the characters in question; it’s like trying to imagine James Bond or Superman appearing in one. The humor feels broader, sillier and more desperate as well. The movie does have its moments, I suppose, but I felt less inclined to enjoy them; that’s because the realization came roaring back to me how much I prefer Fantomas and Juve in a much more serious context and as real matches for each other. I will admit, though, that this series does leave behind one intriguing mystery; is Fantomas really a blue-skinned monster of some sort or does he wear masks under his masks? The movies never answer this question.


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