MADAME SIN (1972)
Article 4463 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by David Greene
Featuring Bette Davis, Robert Wagner, Denholm Elliott
What it is: Supervillain story
A CIA agent who has left the agency is kidnapped by a powerful supervillainess known as Madame Sin, who recruits him to help her to steal a Polaris submarine.
This movie actually has a decent rating on IMDB (at the time I write this, 7.0), but the user comments seem to be largely negative, which makes me suspect that the movie is one of those that splits its audience. I wonder if what many people don’t like about it is what I do like about it. It’s working in a very familiar genre (the supervillain/superspy story), but it jettisons many of its conventions. It’s stylishly directed, but in a totally different way than the other ones I’ve seen, though it does remind me a little bit of the Dr. Phibes movies. The movie is full of interesting and curious scenes, such as the one in which the hero, temporarily deaf, tries to get a tourist to make a phone call for him. And because it’s defying, bending and playing with conventions, it’s somewhat unpredictable; there are several plot surprises along the way. Those who love the conventions of the supervillain genre may feel put off, but I personally liked to see something really different done with the ideas. There’s plenty of gadgetry to add the fantastic content, and I like all three central performances in the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.