Sunday, March 28, 2021

PHANTOM OF THE RUE MORGUE

 





PHANTOM OF THE RUE MORGUE (1954) is Warner Bros.' 3-D follow up to their hit HOUSE OF WAX. The film is based on Poe's famous tale "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", but, as expected, several liberties are taken with the source material. 

In 1890s Paris, a mysterious fiend is brutally murdering a number of young attractive women. A few clues lead the Inspector on the case (Claude Dauphin) to charge Professor Paul Dupin (Steve Forrest) with the crimes. Dupin, however, is being set up by an associate, Dr. Marais (Karl Malden). Marais is a zoologist and a psychologist, and he has trained a gorilla to kill on his command. The victims had rejected Marais in some way, and the madman has his eyes on Dupin's love (Patricia Medina). The gorilla winds up taking the woman up on the rooftops of Paris, while the police try to track them and Marais down. 

I watched this movie thru my TCM cable app, and, needless to say, it was not in 3-D. Would I have enjoyed it better if it had been? I doubt it, since I'm not much of a 3-D fan. For me, the main interest here was the fact that it was one of the very few Gothic horror tales made by a major American studio in the early 1950s, and in color, no less. 

For a Hollywood movie made in this period, PHANTOM is quite brutal--we even get to see some blood streaks on the bodies of the victims, and the movie leaves no doubt that they have been horribly attacked. Jonathan Rigby has pointed out in his book that this film is a precursor to the much more violent horror thrillers of the 60s and 70s, where gorgeous women were killed in various spectacular and bloody ways. The incident in Poe's story of a woman's corpse being stuffed up a chimney is even used here. (Mario Bava would have had a field day with PHANTOM'S scenario.)

The problem is the story bogs down very quickly with several "police official investigating the murders" scenes that just seem to kill time. There's an attempt to inject some atmosphere with such elements as can-can girls, a knife throwing act, acrobats, and Apache dancers, but you're still never convinced that this is supposed to be Paris. The main reason is that, other than Claude Dauphin, all the other actors come off as non-French as possible. (A very young Merv Griffin, of all people, has a small role here as a Parisian university student.) 

Karl Malden gives a very hammy and nervy performance as Dr. Marais. Malden was a fine character actor, but he's not at all suited to play a Bela Lugosi-John Carradine type of role. Marais has plenty of hangups with the opposite sex, due to his relationship with his late wife. The doctor keeps a mini-shrine to his wife in his house, complete with a large portrait of the woman (which looks just like Patricia Medina). This plot point of a mentally disturbed man obsessed with a dead wife would be used in most of the later Poe adaptations made by American-International Pictures. 

Director Roy Del Ruth (a long-time Warners veteran) uses plenty of 3-D gimmicks, the main one being females in danger screaming at the camera in extreme close-up. Charles Gemora, who played the ape in Universal's 1932 MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, does the honors again here. The gorilla suit this time is quite impressive--it's much better looking than the ones used in many 1930s-40s poverty row flicks. The climax of the gorilla making off with Patricia Medina isn't as exciting as it should be, mainly due to the fact that the creature appears to be lugging around a mannequin. 

PHANTOM OF THE RUE MORGUE doesn't have much of a reputation now (Jonathan Rigby is one of the few genre experts who has written about it). It's much darker than HOUSE OF WAX, and it doesn't have a real horror star like Vincent Price. I much prefer the 1932 MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, and I would even say that AIP's 1971 MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE is better. 




Saturday, March 27, 2021

ZACH SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE

 


Do we really need a four-hour alternate version of a two-hour comic book movie, that, in my original estimation, was just okay? Well, we have one with ZACH SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE. Thanks to my dear brother Robert, I was able to view this elephantine mass of clickbait. 

I'm not going to go into the background of how and why this film came about--there's plenty of articles on the internet where you can get that info. This Snyder version greatly expands on the theatrical JUSTICE LEAGUE, not necessarily better. 

The Snyder version clears up a lot of loose plot points--for example, it provides a legitimate reason for the heroes to resurrect Superman. But the extra footage also accentuates the original movie's flaws. There's still too many characters, too many subplots...there's so much going on that it's hard to have any emotional connection with anything, or anyone. 

How you feel about this version will really depend on how you feel about Zach Snyder's bombastic, music video-on-steroids directing style. Snyder constantly strains for the "big moment"--but he attempts so many of them here, that by the time the real big moments are supposed to happen, they don't have the expected impact. A little bit of Snyder goes a long way, and this is a long movie. (Snyder also loves slow motion the way Bugs Bunny loves carrots.)

The characterizations in this version haven't been improved, except for Ray Fisher's Cyborg, who winds up being the lead hero. The main villain, Steppenwolf, has been redesigned, but he still comes off as a minor league Thanos, and Darksied's cameo is rather underwhelming. Ezra Miller's Flash gets more chances at comic relief, but it also makes the character more silly. 

This version has a prologue, six parts, and a epilogue, but I don't think that helped the story along any. The epilogue sets up a bizarre alternate storyline that some fanboys want Snyder to go out and make (I say no). It is also is presented in a 4:3 standard aspect ratio, which is quite unusual in this day and age. I'm sure there's plenty of young folks who have never spent four hours in their lives watching something in a non-widescreen format. (It also doesn't do much for the visuals.) 

Is there anything I liked about this Snyder cut?? Well....Superman did have a sharp-looking alternate uniform. 

ZACH SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE is certainly not the salvation of the DC cinematic universe (personally, I don't think there even is a DCCU). Like most alternate cuts or versions of films, it has a certain interest, but I don't think it's a great improvement over the theatrical JUSTICE LEAGUE. I also believe it's not worth spending money just to watch it on HBOMax. The truly great DC Comics movie, featuring the company's classic characters, has yet to be made. 



Tuesday, March 23, 2021

THE BRIDES OF DRACULA Novelization

 






I've been a fan of Hammer horror films for a long time....but until recently I had never read any of the various novelizations based on the company's movies. These books were released in the 1960s and 70s, and some of the original paperback copies fetch a high price on the internet. 

A few weeks ago I purchased a reprint of THE BRIDES OF DRACULA novelization. This version was published by Bear Manor Media. It contains the complete original novel, attributed to Dean Owen, and a introduction by Richard A. Ekstedt. Ekstedt explains that Dean Owen was actually a pen name for an American author named Dudley Dean McGaughy, who wrote a number of movie tie-in novels. 

Owen/McGaughy apparently based this novel on an early draft of THE BRIDES OF DRACULA script. (Anyone who is aware of the production history of THE BRIDES OF DRACULA knows how much trouble it took to get to the final storyline.) The novel is very similar storywise to the final film, but there are also a few major differences. 

One major change is that the mysterious character (played by Michael Mulcaster) who hitches a ride on the coach transporting Marianne at the beginning of the movie BRIDES has a more substantial role in the novel. In the book the character is named Latour, and he functions as sort of a sinister thug for the Meinster family. (Latour is to the Meinsters what the character Klove would be to Dracula in later Hammer films featuring the Count.) Dr. Van Helsing also has a helper in the novel, named Jacques. 

Van Helsing also gets to, shall we say, enjoy himself more in the novel. Let me describe a sequence in the book to you. Remember in the film version of BRIDES that Van Helsing first discovered Marianne passed out in the forest after she had ran away from the Chateau Meinster? In the novel, Van Helsing finds her...naked (Baron Meinster was getting ready to attack her, but the sun started to come up). Van Helsing wraps her in his cloak, and starts to carry her off. He then gets into a knock-down brawl with some villagers, finally gets Marianne back to the Running Boar Inn...and then the couple have sex. (How do you think Terence Fisher would have handled all of that??)

The real difference between the BRIDES novel and the BRIDES movie is not so much the plot, it's the tone. The book comes off like a trashy potboiler, due to Dean Owen's mediocre writing style. Consider how the author describes Marianne on the very first page: "The damp cloak could not hide the abundant curve at breast and hip." Owen also finds about a half-dozen more ways to mention Marianne's breasts throughout the story. 

What struck me about this book is, when you take away all the usual Hammer accouterments--the actors, the production design, the costumes, the sets, the cinematography, Terence Fisher's direction--you're left with a vampire story that doesn't exactly jump off the page at you. THE BRIDES OF DRACULA is my favorite Hammer horror film, but if I had read this novelization first, without having seen the movie, I probably wouldn't have been that interested in seeing it at all. The film is a magnificent Gothic fairy tale, while the book doesn't come anywhere near that description. 

What made Hammer movies special was definitely on the screen, instead of the page. In this instance the book is certainly not better than the movie. From a long-time Hammer fan's perspective, it's intriguing to read one of these novelizations--it is part of the company's history--but I don't think I'll be going out of my way to gather up a collection of them. 



Saturday, March 20, 2021

JUGGERNAUT (1936)

 





This is a film that was new to me. It is one of Boris Karloff's most obscure films, and for good reason. In his fine book ENGLISH GOTHIC author Jonathan Rigby describes the movie as a "ho-hum melodrama", and he's right on the mark. 

Boris Karloff spent most of the year 1936 in his native England. He quite enjoyed being away from Hollywood, and he took time to engage in several pastimes. He also did some acting work while there, making two films. The first, THE MAN WHO CHANGED HIS MIND, is an unusual and well-done mad doctor tale. JUGGERNAUT is not a science-fiction or horror story, despite the fact that Karloff plays a obsessed scientist. 

Karloff plays the splendidly named Dr. Sartorious, who is researching a cure for paralysis. The doctor is based in Morocco, but his funding has been cut off, so he accepts an offer to take up practice in the south of France. Sartorious is approached by Lady Clifford (Mona Goya), the much younger wife of the wealthy, elderly Sir Charles Clifford. Lady Clifford offers the doctor 20,000 pounds if he takes over the "care" of her ailing husband. Sir Charles soon dies, and the man's son from another marriage, and Sartorious' nurse, become suspicious enough to investigate what happened. Lady Clifford's plans to inherit her husband's fortune, and Sartorious' plans to continue his research, are soon thwarted. 

Karloff is the above the title star of JUGGERNAUT, but he really has a supporting role. Most of the film (which lasts a little over an hour) concerns the situation around the Clifford family. Lady Clifford has a lover, a broke playboy, and Clifford's son develops a relationship with the nurse. These characters are very generic, and the actors who play these roles perform in an overly dramatic manner, Mona Goya in particular as the glamorous and scheming trophy wife. 

The only actor of interest here is Karloff, but he doesn't have all that much to do. Sartorious is a determined, brooding fellow who lacks the social graces, and he spends most of his time in the laboratory (Karloff barely interacts with the rest of the cast). Karloff would go on to play many scientists like this in the future, but those men at least had a fantastical angle to their proceedings. There's nothing of the fantastic in JUGGERNAUT--it's a poor man's Agatha Christie, without any mystery (the audience knows all too well what is going to happen). Sartorious's solution to his predicament when everything is revealed is surprising, and rather abrupt (it's also an act that probably wouldn't have been allowed in an American-made film). 

The direction, by Harry Edwards, is very uninspired, and the movie is hampered by a music score that is as over-the-top as Mona Goya's acting. 

You can't help but wonder why Karloff involved himself in JUGGERNAUT. (My theory is that he used the filming as excuse to spend more time in England.) For those who are fans of Boris, and who have not seen this movie, it is one of the least entertaining titles the actor appeared in. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Book Review: THE 100 GREATEST LOONEY TUNES CARTOONS

 






One of the major reasons I am such a classic film buff is that I watched the cartoons made at Warner Bros. from the 1930s to the 1950s every day as a kid for years. I watched plenty of other cartoons then--Tom & Jerry, the various Hanna Barbera series, Disney--but Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were by far my favorite. As a young kid I couldn't define why, but there was something about the pacing, the style, and the attitude of the Warner Bros. cartoons that made them stand out. Every other company's cartoons seemed to move in slow motion compared to Looney Tunes. 

MeTV is now showing a selection of Looney Tunes early in the morning on weekdays (unfortunately I'm at work during this time, and no, I don't work from home). I don't know how long MeTV will be doing this, since we're now in the middle of a "Everything is offensive" pandemic, but it's great to know that some young folks out there might be exposed to some of the greatest animated works ever produced by a Hollywood studio. 

A recent book entitled THE 100 GREATEST LOONEY TUNES CARTOONS takes on the task of ranking the best animated shorts made at Warner Bros. It's a challenging task indeed, seeing as how Warners made hundreds and hundreds of different cartoons over a period of decades. 

The book is edited by Jerry Beck, an animation historian and Looney Tunes expert. The 100 cartoons that were chosen as the best are given at least two pages each in coverage, with stills from the particular cartoon, a credits list, a plot summary, and analysis from either Beck or a number of people who are animation experts or who work in the industry, such as Paul Dini and Rob Coleman. Film historian Leonard Maltin provides a forward.

The usual suspects make the list, such as WHAT'S OPERA, DOC?, BASEBALL BUGS, ONE FROGGY EVENING, and the "Duck Season, Rabbit Season" trilogy. A few surprises do show up here, including the infamous COAL BLACK AND DE SEBBEN DWARFS (Beck gives clear reasons why this one made the cut). Over 75% of the cartoons on this list were directed by either Robert Clampett, Chuck Jones, or Friz Freleng. A third of the list is made up of entries that feature my all-time favorite cartoon character, Bugs Bunny. 

The book has a colorful design, and the text is concise and easy to read. (If anything I wanted more info and analysis on each cartoon chosen.) This book may be about cartoons, but it isn't written for very young readers. 

That brings up something that people today still don't understand--these cartoons were not specifically made for kids. They were made to be entertaining for all types of audiences, and I believe that is why they still are so watchable today, and always will be. Certainly some of the references in the cartoons will go over the heads of a lot of folks, but overall the entire Looney Tunes catalog contains some of the most creative and inventive works ever to come out of a Hollywood studio. It's amazing how much impact these cartoons have had, considering they were made with very little time and money, and without any digital effects at all. 

I enjoyed this book immensely, mainly because it brought back so many memories for me. There were a few cartoons listed that I have not seen in a long time, but it only took a glance at a still from one for me to remember almost the entire short. Reading THE 100 GREATEST LOONEY TUNES CARTOONS made me want to see every single one of them all over again. 



Saturday, March 13, 2021

My Favorite Movie Actor And Actress Voices

 


Yesterday on Facebook, my friend, prolific audio commentator Troy Howarth, posted a list of his favorite movie actor voices. I thought it was an intriguing idea for a movie list, so of course I appropriated it for my own use. 

The question is, how does one define the parameters of who makes up the list? Is it voices that I find particularly memorable? Or voices that sound the best to me? Or...is it how a performer uses his or her voice? Is it how many different accents a performer successfully uses? 

I decided to use the generic "I like the voices of these performers for a certain reason." There's nothing scientific or analytical about this. It's just one guy's opinion. I came up with a list of 20 actors and actresses who I feel have a special vocal quality. If you are aware of who my favorite overall movie stars are, you'll probably be able to predict who will appear--but I think you'll find a few surprises. The choices are listed in no set order.


Actors:

Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, James Stewart, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, Cary Grant, James Mason, Claude Rains, Malcolm McDowell, Rod Steiger, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Gough, Lionel Barrymore, George Sanders, Alec Guinness, Basil Rathbone, Charlton Heston


Actresses: 

Jean Arthur, Barbara Stanwyck, Glenda Farrell, Una Merkle, Eva Green, Ingrid Pitt, Martine Beswicke, Dorothy Comingore (because of CITIZEN KANE), Carole Lombard, Zasu Pitts, Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Shelley, Joan Blondell, Ingrid Bergman, Elsa Lanchester, Shirley Jones, Marie Windsor, Mae Clarke, Adrienne Corri, Dorothy Malone 





Friday, March 12, 2021

FOOL"S PARADE

 





James Stewart is one of my favorite all-time actors, and I've seen nearly all of his films. One I had not seen until last night was FOOL'S PARADE, a 1971 picture produced and directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, who had worked with Stewart a number of times in the 1960s. 

FOOL'S PARADE is a strange tale about ex-cons in Depression-era West Virginia. In 1935, Mattie Appleyard (James Stewart) and his two friends Lee (Strother Martin) and young Johnny (Kurt Russell) are released from prison. Mattie, who was convicted for murdering two men, has been locked up for 40 years. But the old man has saved every penny he earned while working at the prison, and he walks out with a check for $25,000. Mattie, Lee, and Johnny intend to use the money to open up a general store, but a vicious and unstable prison guard captain named Doc Council (George Kennedy) conspires with the president of the bank who issued the check to kill the trio and steal the money. Mattie has to use his natural cunning to enable himself and his friends to stay alive. 

It's hard to tell exactly what Andrew McLaglen was aiming for with FOOL'S PARADE. He was apparently trying to do something different than the spate of Westerns he had been directing over his career. The story is filled with eccentric characters and eccentric situations--so many that it's hard to relate to anything that is happening. We don't get to know the background of any of the characters, and their quirky mannerisms feel contrived. James Stewart appears to be his typical folksy self as Mattie, but the old guy is a convicted murderer, and he has a glass eye that has a different shape and color than his real eye. Stewart's glass eye device is incredibly distracting, and whenever he is onscreen, the viewer's attention is automatically drawn to it. 

George Kennedy gives a very bizarre performance as the ultra-weird Doc Council. The man walks with a limp, totes a shotgun, wears white shoes, has stained teeth, and sports Coke-bottle glasses. Kennedy also uses a off-putting speech pattern. Council is so outlandish that it's hard to take him seriously, but he also violently kills people, contributing to the off-putting aspect of the entire story. 

A young Kurt Russell is very good as Johnny, the most normal character in the movie (he reacts to all the goings-on with amazement), while Strother Martin is, well, Strother Martin. In the middle of the story Anne Baxter shows up as a broken-down madam who works out of a houseboat. She slices the ham pretty thick, and the sequence involving her brings the pace to a screeching halt. 

FOOL'S PARADE was entirely filmed in West Virginia, and it certainly has a hard-scrabble, rural 1930s look. The movie constantly reminds the viewer that the Depression is going on (as if we didn't know). The real-life locations and down-to-earth look of the production only makes the weirdness of the characters stand out even more. 

This was the last theatrical film in which James Stewart received lead billing. FOOL'S PARADE didn't make any impact, and Stewart was disappointed in it. (I doubt that most Jimmy Stewart fans have even heard of this film let alone seen it.) The whole affair is more quirky than entertaining or watchable. I'm surprised the Coen Brothers haven't tried to remake it. 



Monday, March 8, 2021

THE DARK HOUR (1936)

 


THE DARK HOUR (1936) is another one of those hour-long low-budget B movie mysteries. This one was produced by the Chesterfield company, and directed by future Abbott & Costello veteran Charles Lamont. The most notable thing about this movie (in my mind at least) is that it features three Universal horror players: Irene Ware (1935's THE RAVEN), E.E. Clive (THE INVISIBLE MAN), and Michael Mark (FRANKENSTEIN). 

Young, attractive Elsa Carson (Irene Ware) lives with her two elderly and miserly uncles, Henry (William V. Mong) and Charles (Hobart Bosworth). Elsa doesn't like her uncles, but she stands to inherit their fortune when they pass away. Henry kicks Elsa's boyfriend, police inspector Jim (Ray Walker) out of the house--and later that night, the old grouch is found dead, stabbed in the back while sitting at his desk. There's plenty of suspects--Elsa, Jim, the suspicious butler (E.E. Clive), a chemist who is engaged in mysterious experiments, and Elsa's spirited aunt (Hedda Hopper). The butler is soon killed under similar circumstances, and Jim investigates the murders, along with a retired police officer who happens to be a neighbor of the Carsons  (Berton Churchill). 

THE DARK HOUR gets off to a quick start, with Uncle Henry getting killed off in the first ten minutes. It then bogs down for a while, with the two investigators constantly asking questions of the entire cast, in scenes generically handled by director Lamont. Things pick up a bit when a prowler played by Michael Mark is discovered--it's found out that the man has lost his wife and son in a tenement fire, a building owned by the Carsons. Mark (who is very good in the role) even gets his own flashback showing him watching the fire. 



Irene Ware in THE DARK HOUR

When the murderer is found out, it is a bit of a surprise. But...there's even more of a surprise, because there's a twist ending, in which the real murderer is revealed, after a sort-of shell game is played upon the viewer. 

THE DARK HOUR might have been helped if the investigators had been more interesting. Ray Walker and Berton Churchill are okay in the roles, but there's nothing that makes them stand out, other than that both of them are also suspects, and they are both trying to protect women that are also under suspicion (Churchill is fond of Hedda Hopper's character). Irene Ware (who looks quite different here than she did in THE RAVEN) spends most of her time being worried and anxious. 

THE DARK HOUR is no great shakes, but it's worth sitting through due to the ending, which unloads a number of surprises on the viewer. 


Thursday, March 4, 2021

KELLY THE SECOND

 





KELLY THE SECOND (1936) is a comedy produced by Hal Roach, and released by MGM. As someone who has watched Hal Roach product since I was a kid, I had to take the opportunity to watch this for the first time when it was shown recently on TCM. 

The movie tells the story of Molly (Patsy Kelly), who attempts to train a brawling truck driver (Guinn Williams) into becoming a successful professional boxer. Molly is helped in this endeavor by her boss, drug store owner Doc Klum (Charley Chase), and a dopey gangster (Edward Brophy). 

In the late 1930s, Hal Roach began to move away from his popular short subject comedy films and began to focus on feature-length movies. KELLY THE SECOND showcases Roach stars Patsy Kelly and Charley Chase. Patsy had just finished a series at Roach with Thelma Todd (who tragically died in December of 1935.) 

Like many Roach full-length features, KELLY THE SECOND feels like a two-reeler stretched out to have a longer running time. It actually comes off like a longer version of the Three Stooges short PUNCH DRUNKS. Like Curly Howard in that earlier film, Guinn Williams is a boxer who does his best fighting when he hears a particular piece of music--in his case, it's "The Irish Washerwoman". There's plenty of gags about Kelly trying to "train" Williams at a farm, and a subplot on how the dopey gangster's girlfriend (Pert Kelton) tries to vamp the naive boxer. (Pert Kelton had filled in for Thelma Todd by appearing in a Roach short with Patsy Kelly after Todd's death.) 

One's enjoyment of KELLY THE SECOND will probably be measured by how one reacts to Patsy Kelly's shrill on-screen personality (I personally feel she was much better as a supporting player, or at least paired off with someone). Charley Chase actually has as much screen time as Kelly does, and he comes off very well as the milquetoast Doc Klum. (I think Chase would have made a fine comic character actor in feature films.) Ironically this was Chase's last film with Hal Roach. Charley and Patsy do get a chance to show off their dancing talents. 

If Thelma Todd had not died, she certainly would have been involved in this picture....and it's a sure bet the story would have turned out far differently. (One could surmise that Thelma would have played the Pert Kelton role, but I have a feeling she would have been helping Patsy in the boxing scheme.) Patsy Kelly would later star in another full-length film for Hal Roach, with another of Thelma Todd's replacements, Lyda Roberti. The movie was NOBODY"S BABY (1937), which I have not yet seen. 

Gus Meins, a Hal Roach veteran, directed KELLY THE SECOND, and "Our Gang" fans need to know that Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer has a cameo. 

KELLY THE SECOND is an okay comedy, certainly not on the level of the Laurel & Hardy features made by Hal Roach. If you've watched enough slapstick from 1920s and 30s Hollywood, you can anticipate almost all of the gags. There is, however, one priceless line of dialogue--"Is there an Irishman in the house??" 



Monday, March 1, 2021

ZARABANDA BING BING

 




What in the heck is ZARABANDA BING BING?? It's a 1966 Spanish-Italian-French production, with Daniela Bianchi (FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE) and Harold Sakata (GOLDFINGER). One would expect with those two in the cast, that the movie would be one of those Europsy 007 imitations. It's actually a lighthearted caper story. 

A priceless jeweled scepter is found off the coast of Ibiza, and it winds up at the island's museum. A group of motley characters tries to steal it, but they wind up just getting into each other's way. 

I have no idea what ZARABANDA BING BING is supposed to mean. This movie has several other alternate titles, including BALEARIC CAPER, OPERATION BALEARIC, and OPERATION GOLD. Whatever name you call it, the movie feels more like a Pink Panther outing than a Bondian spy tale. It has a leisurely pace, with plenty of silly antics, including a Clouseau-like police officer who tries to protect the scepter from being stolen. There's also the exotic location of Ibiza and several beautiful women. There's no gore or overt sexual situations (there are a few murders thrown in). This is the type of script that would have been perfect for Blake Edwards--I'm sure he would have made more out of it than the actual director (Jose Maria Forque) did. 

Daniela Bianchi and Harold Sakata are more guest stars here than leading players. Bianchi plays a wealthy woman who wants the scepter because she's obsessed with diamonds. The gorgeous-as-usual Daniela doesn't even make it to the end of the film (I have to admit that after her character was bumped off my interest in the story waned considerably). Sakata is the unlikely administrator of the museum, but at least he has a major part in the climax. 

That climax happens to feature a showdown between a vintage car that drives itself (don't ask) and a crate that happens to fly, and has the ability to fire off arrows and explosives. There's so many people after the scepter, and so many fake versions of the scepter, that one gets confused quite easily on what exactly is going on. 

I viewed this film on YouTube. It was dubbed in Italian, with English subtitles. The version I saw ran about 90 minutes (IMDB lists the running time as 97 minutes--it didn't seem to me that anything was missing.) 

ZARABANDA BING BING isn't terrible...it's competently made and staged, and it's well-photographed. It tries to be a crazy entertaining farce, but the actors (other than Bianchi and Sakata) are not all that interesting. There's plenty of Eurospy films made during the same period as this that have far more notable elements.