That Man From Rio (1964)

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Incredibly fast-moving and funny action adventure comedy that caused a sensation and started the trend for Bond send-ups, then and now, and was an acknowledged influence on Raiders of the Lost Ark.  It was nominated at the 37th Oscars for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay. The title sequence owes a little to Charade (as does the opening shot) while the score by the magnificent Georges Delerue is a perfect fit for the genre. It is clearly influenced by the Adventures of Tintin. Jean-Paul Belmondo is the airman home on leave to see girlfriend Francoise Dorleac immediately after her father’s colleague has been taken from the museum where he worked. She is then kidnapped by Indians who want to find the whereabouts of a valuable Amazon treasure as they believe she is the only person who has the information. Belmondo follows her to Brazil and things get crazier by the minute …  The second of 5 films writer/director Philippe de Broca and the charming Belmondo made together, this breathless (and saucy) action adventure (trains and boats and planes and automobiles AND parachutes!) was a spectacular international success. De Broca started in the industry making short films while serving in the French army in Algeria, an experience that made him want to just make other people laugh. He worked with Chabrol and Truffaut and Chabrol produced his first film, one of 4 with Jean-Pierre Cassel. Things happen so quickly that you don’t have time to care about logic. It’s as if they just made it up as they went along – a lesson in tone for all aspiring filmmakers. It’s brilliantly shot and performed and the locations – Paris, Rio, Brasilia, with all those futuristic buildings – are artfully used as character. Belmondo runs so much he must have been super fit. Dorleac is utterly beguiling as Agnes in another terrific performance which reminds us of the terrible loss to cinema her tragically early death was. Adolfo Celi is so good as the ostensible villain he was tapped for Thunderball the following year.When de Broca died in 2004, his gravestone was inscribed, J’ai assez ri (I have laughed enough). Fabulous.

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Notorious (1946)

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Roman Polanski has said that films are made of moments – and there are so many of them here in this story of adultery, espionage and post-war intrigue in South America. The alcoholic stupor of Bergman. The kissing scene (dialogue by Clifford Odets, uncredited). The keys and uranium in the wine cellar. The race. S&M, drinking, Nazis, spying … what a screenplay (by Ben Hecht from an uncredited story by John Taintor Foote) and what sublime direction by Hitchcock (originally under the very watchful eye of producer David O. Selznick). One of the first great mature Hitchcock films. Classic.

They Won’t Believe Me (1947)

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You wait for years for a Robert Young movie then two come along at once, and on the same day, no less. Unlike Crossfire this hasn’t a political bone in its body – it’s really a melodramatic film noir, with a Cain-ish undertow of infidelity and murder. It was developed from a story by Gordon McDonell, who famously originated Hitchcock’s great Shadow of a Doubt. It was shepherded into production by Joan Harrison – who had been Hitchcock’s right-hand woman. Young is atypically casts as a philandering broker and Rita Johnson – a kind of straight arrow Monroe-alike – is terrific as his tolerant wife. There’s a really marvellous twist ending. And because it’s from RKO, it boasts Jane Greer, the go-to villainness. Those were the days.