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...was the title of the last print I saw. A classic in the 1960's European superhero/action genre. You'll swoon with B-flick extasy when Argoman confides to his manservant, Chandra, "Sometimes I'd prefer not to have my superpowers, if only to make my adventures a bit more difficult!" This is just one snippet of the dazzling dialogue from this masterpiece. His flair for Jetson-style interior decor makes his pad almost as cool as Diabolik's. He locks horns with supervillain Jenabel, "queen of the world," a hot redhead supermodel type babe with a fabulous Swinging 60's wardrobe and miles of eyeliner. All to one of those upbeat, cheerfully awful, strangely compelling European badmovie soundtracks. There are a couple of loosely related flicks, "Superargo vs. the Faceless Giants" and "Superargo vs. Diabolicus." It's the sort of stuff we lovers of cinematic trash thrive on. This is a film you will watch over and over again. Or maybe that's just me. Whoops.
This movie is a philosophy of life: "live and take what you really want".
CAMP classic of maximum proportions, which ruled the world in the late
sixties, conquering all the known B-movies markets.
Sir REGINALD HOOVER/ARGOMAN is the greatest, coolest and meanest
super-hero/anti-hero ever been. Period.
I'm actually proud to be Italian, and I'm wondering WHEN and HOW and WHERE
Argoman the fantastic superman will strike again.
Thanks, Sergio Grieco!
Bottom line: ROGER BROWNE kicks ass!
11 out of 10.
A wild mix of the Batman series and thirty years of US comic culture, Euro
pulp villainy a la Fantomas and Judex, self-referential `masked superhero'
genre goofs on Diabolik and Superargo, exploding 60s pop-art cinema, James
Bond recycling and fertile Italian filmic cross-pollination, all wrapped up
in a cut-rate package with a yellow body stocking.
After a brief credit stroll past Buckingham Palace, Scotland Yard's Inspector Lawrence discovers the Crown of St Edward has been stolen from the Tower of London in a daring daylight robbery. All fingers point to arch masked criminal Argoman! The Inspector calls Argoman's (unbeknownst to him) debonair alter-ego Sir Reginald Hoover in a vain effort to locate him. Hoover (Roger Browne) is an English adventurer (despite an American accent), scientist, arch criminal with a luxury French villa crammed with the Mona Lisa and other antiques, and a compulsive womanizer, although he confides to his turbaned butler Chandra (Eduardo Fajardo) that he loses his powers for six hours after being with a woman. His non-sexual superpowers, however, are extraordinary: ESP, super-hearing, and more than personal magnetism. Says `scientist' Hoover confidentially to the Inspector, `His abilities are truly metaphysical.'
Meanwhile the crown's real thief, super female criminal Jenabell (Dominique Boschero), now in not-so-plain clothes as Regina Sullivan, motors by Hoover's coastal sex palace in her personal hovercraft. As Argoman, Hoover concentrates his ESP ability to draw the craft off course and come flying onto his private beach literally into his lap. He then presents his willing victim Regina with a simple task - shoot an arrow on a button on the wall and you get a Rolls and a box of emeralds. If he shoots the button, then `hubba hubba'. Guess which arrow goes purposefully off course.
Jenabell soon declares herself `The Queen of the World' (Modesty she ain't) and returns to crown to an increasingly befuddled Inspector Lawrence, adding she intends soon to demonstrate her amazing power. It turns out the `power' comes from a huge diamond found in the base of an atomic explosion which radiates gamma rays and so forth (the muddled pseudo-science becomes too much at this point); with the diamond and her army of `automatons', a slave race of human robots, at her command, she then pulls off her second daring plan - robbing the Bank of France with her leather-suited henchmen (vague shades of bondage chic) and littering Paris with the banknotes from a plane, quite an effective setup in front of the Eiffel Tower. Using his new girlfriend, the glamorous English nymphet Samantha (Nadia Marlowa), as bait, Hoover hides in one of the trucks and emerges triumphantly after a brief punchup in his trademark Argoman suit: a yellow body stocking, black mask with red psychedelic spiral on it, red cape and flashlight eyes through a slit. It's a hoot to behold.
Argoman now allows himself to be abducted and taken to Jenabell's underground lair, a bizarre modern art gallery fronting a futuristic Bondian laboratory. Jenabell is now truly in her element, parading around in a veritable rat's nest of garish 60s fashions, careering through a change of wardrobe every few minutes from Black Widow to Queen of Outer Space via a snake bikini and tinfoil fright wig. After a brief fling Argoman is given the choice to be her `consort' (i.e. love slave) or run-of the-mill slave; `Your instincts are diabolic!' he hisses (or is that Diabolik?) before choosing to save Samantha instead from the menacing advances of a metallic robot and then attempt to save the world.
Roger Browne had spent a number of years showing his chiseled features in supporting roles in peplums and as a lead in Super Seven Calling Cairo (1965) before teaming up with director Grieco in two other spy/crime features Password: Kill Agent Gordon and Rififi in Amsterdam (both 1967). Grieco chose Browne wisely for the lead, as Argoman's cartoonish visage lends itself to Browne's molded plastic head - even his hair seems completely immovable. Not so the plywood sets at the low-rent end of Rome's Cinecitta studios, although Hoover's coastal love shack, naturally dwarfed by Diabolik's incredible underground lair, has promise. What little money there was evidently went on nicely compact location shoots in England and France, and spare use of effective visuals (Jenabell's hall of mirrors, oversized ray machines). Argoman's real disappointment is its lack of movement, both in the flat dialogue scenes, and in the comic-book action sequences where you at least need to tilt the camera on occasion - didn't the Batman TV series teach Grieco anything? Good try though, and a triumph of visual flair over limitations, budgetary and otherwise.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For a while, "Argoman" seems to be aiming at encapsulating the ultimate male fantasy: Sir Reginald Hoover is so rich that he has a pool inside his beach house, so daring that he has stolen the Mona Lisa and replaced it with a fake, so successful with women that he has several to pick from when he's in the mood for some companionship. Oh, and he also has superpowers, chief among them telekinesis. For a while this looks like a European version of the American Derek Flint films, except that Regie is not quite as smarmy as Flint. When he finally puts his yellow suit on and turns into Argoman, the film turns into a campy kid's movie - but a sexually suggestive and often violent kid's movie! That's what's strange about "Argoman" - it's a bit too adult for kids, and a bit too kiddie for adults. In any case, there is some fun to be had here (especially from the colorful sets and the upbeat score), and arch-villainess Dominique Boschero is hot - I'd probably join her in her quest to dominate the world is she asked me! On the other hand, the scenes with the English and the French police inspectors don't really contribute much to the movie. ** out of 4.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've known it on and off for a long while, and even have a copy. It might be a minority opinion, but I think most of the "campiness" was deliberate (as it is in countless stories of this kind). The scenes with the hero, the villainess, the "Bond girl" characters, almost all have that way about them. That's one reason (though I said this about another movie like this) that the ending surprises me just a little. The hero deals pretty ruthlessly with the villainess, then takes the big important things she stole, and steals them for himself! Whether deliberately "campy" or accidentally so, that's a little surprising for a light adventure story. About my only objection to it is kind of a big one, though. I think it should've been either a "tongue-in-cheek" super hero story, or a tongue-in-cheek "Bond movie spoof", but not both (even though that's the main idea of it). But "tongue-in-cheek" (as opposed to just plain bad) it pretty definitely is.
This movie seemed to be taking itself seriously while winking at the
A big dig on the superhero shows and films that were all the rage at the time. It had every cliché. The rich man's hideaway. The gadgets. The ladies. The police and governments friends and/or connections. It still seems fun.
The costume was a bit weird. The red ski mask didn't exactly look like it belonged on a hero.
And while the name 'Argoman' sounds cool, it doesn't make a lot of sense really.
I won't even attempt to explain the plot. See it for yourself. It's out there on video, (I know, I have it. An American copy.) but only the patient will find it.
Fun, tongue-in-cheek super hero/spy spoof/caper film. Roger Browne plays Argoman, whose superpowers include strength, psychic ability, and telekinesis. Since he's a suave, debonair playboy, he also likes to romance ladies. There's one catch: if he sleeps with a woman, he loses his powers for six hours. He and the villainous Queen of the World share a bed and a fabulous costume sense. Naturally, Argoman has a loungey score. Great fun. The version of this that I saw was titled The Incredible Paris Incident and was released by Sinister Cinema. The colors were a bit washed out, and the film needs to be letterboxed, but the print was quite watchable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Following in the footsteps of the two bizarre superhero spoof SUPERARGO
movies made in Italy comes this even weirder amalgamation of superhero
and spy genres which really does have to be seen to be believed.
Incredibly, THE FANTASTIC ARGOMAN is supposed to be a spoof of the
SUPERARGO films, which themselves were spoofs in the first place. That
makes this film a spoof of a spoof. So, it's best to go in expecting a
comedy, because this slice of high-camp adventure is anything but
realistic or serious.
For lovers of tack and bad fashions, THE FANTASTIC ARGOMAN is a must-see. The glitzy '60s costumes that the villainess wears have to be seen in their own right, while the bad guys seem to favour PVC as their material of choice. Meanwhile, Argoman's yellow spandex suit (he looks a bit like BATMAN, except with a red visor) is simply hideous to behold, and makes him look like a total prat! The film is very colourful (gaudy in places) with lots of cheap and cheerful sets, especially the villain's lair which has lots of odd metal triangles sticking out of the walls and bizarre pseudo-science equipment. And the less said about the acting the better, although Roger Browne appears to be cheerfully sending himself up and the dubbers give it their all with a range of over-the-top accents to complement the insane dialogue (such as "your instincts are diabolical!").
Although there isn't a whole lot of action in the film, the fight scenes are quite spectacular with lots of prop breaking, and there's a memorable train stunt with Argoman running along the top of a speeding locomotive as it careers out of control. One scene has a scantily-clad woman being menaced by a very fake-looking cardboard robot and makes the film worthwhile just for that one classic moment. The final bout between Argoman and the bad guys is very thrilling and contains an unforgettably cheesy moment of a guy being electrocuted by a really-fake looking electrical wave.
Amusingly, Argoman is a rather trigger-happy hero who doesn't think twice about shooting and stabbing the (female) villain whenever necessary. This bizarre aspect gives the movie a harder edge and drags Argoman's psychology into question; if you weigh up all the evidence he seems to be more of a cold-blooded, womanising brute out for himself, rather than a good-natured superhero who goes around righting wrongs! Just another interesting aspect of a very bad movie which should be required viewing for all cult genre fans as possibly the craziest superhero movie out there.
I was vaguely aware of this superhero, flick but which I almost missed
out on when it was shown earlier this week on late-night Italian TV
given the misleading original title – which translates to HOW TO STEAL
THE CROWN OF ENGLAND (a plot device which, while occurring twice during
the course of the movie, is only a means to an end and not the
villainess’ ultimate goal)! Anyway, this was one of a boom of Italian
superhero/master criminal films (most of them emanating from the latter
half of the 1960s) – apart from which, I was already familiar with the
enjoyable KRIMINAL (1966; whose sequel, THE MARK OF KRIMINAL , I
watched on the strength of this), the obviously superior DANGER:
DIABOLIK (1968), the surprisingly agreeable spoof ARRIVA DORELLIK
(1967) and, much later, the truly lamentable THE PUMA MAN (1980).
Argoman’s alter-ego is Sir Reginald Hoover (Roger Browne) – a laid-back, womanizing criminologist living in a luxurious gadget-filled mansion and waited upon by his faithful Hindu servant (played by Spaniard Eduardo Fajardo); to put it another way, if Batman is the James Bond of superheroes, then Argoman would be their Matt Helm! Having said that, the outrageous costume notwithstanding (which features a cape and a slit in his mask similar to the armor worn by Gort, the robot from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL !), his superhero characteristics make him actually closer to Superman than Batman: as a matter of fact, he has sonar, telekinetic and magnetic powers!; however, these are depleted for six hours straight after every sexual encounter – which exasperates time-keeper Fajardo no end! The villainess, then, is a man-eating redhead (Dominique Boschero) typically obsessed with world domination – which she plans to accomplish via a precious diamond that, through the sun’s energy, is able to dissolve steel (consequently, having relocated from London to Paris, the French currency is soon in peril of being devalued!).
Unfortunately for Argoman, he always seems to happen on the scene at the wrong time – so that the Police (especially an incompetent Scotland Yard Inspector) mistakes him for the perpetrator of Boschero’s nefarious deeds! While generally entertaining, the plot gets a bit confusing in the second half – especially when dealing with a subplot in which Boschero hypnotizes a clutch of high-ranking officials to aid her cause, and also the kidnapping of Hoover/Argoman on a crowded bus. The film (re-edited in 1979 and re-issued simply as ARGOMAN) is nevertheless boosted by Piero Umiliani’s breezy score and the attractive locations. A regrettable occurrence in connection with the version I watched is that, for about a 10-minute stretch towards the end, the beat-up print turned completely to black-and-white!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This DVD does not have captions of any sort and has been dubbed into
English. The print is also very grainy and the DVD extras aren't
particularly inspiring. So, despite all these flaws, I still was
looking forward to seeing the film because it is so similar to another
Italian film from the same era that I loved, DIABOLIK.
Unfortunately, while an enjoyable little film, it really came up short against DIABOLIK--probably because DIABOLIK had those great Mario Bava touches. Much of it is because Argoman looked much cheaper--like he was a low-budget cousin of Diabolik. His secret lair was nice but nothing like Diabolik's cave, his costume was pretty goofy and the film just lacked all the cool little touches of DIABOLIK. Now this doesn't mean it's not worth seeing--it's just isn't quite as good.
Argoman is a superhero who seems to be willing to stretch the law or work for various sides, though he is not evil or completely amoral (like Diabolik)--but he's also not some goody-goody like Superman. The beginning of the film shows him helping out the Russians, later he's working with the Brits and French. His shtick is telekinesis and other mental powers. He can move objects or people or use his will to make others do what he wishes, such as at the beginning of the film when he willed the firing squad not to shoot him but each other! Cool trick, huh? And, much of the time he's doing this he's wearing a weird yellow superhero costume with an odd hood.
The villain in this film is a megalomaniacal lady who calls herself "Queen of the World" (wow--now THAT'S an ego!). When they first meet, however, neither is in the form of their alter-egos. He's at his lair and she goes zipping by in her hovercraft. His mental powers tell him there's a hot lady on board and so he forces her to land on his island. There, he wines and dines her and gets some nookie before she ultimately leaves. Only later does he deduce that she is a villain--not just a lady with a hot body and loose morals! Unfortunately, during his crusade to stop the very hot Queen of the World, an evil double-dealing British official is killed and Argoman is blamed. So, later in the film he's undercover--trying to capture the bad folks with absolutely no help from the authorities! Oddly, however, when Argoman finds her lair, he mostly punches and kicks people and looks like a Batman wannabe. Why he doesn't use those amazing powers to have the villains kill each other is beyond me--it worked great earlier in the film! Only when the hot lady (now wearing a goofy tin-foil hat) attacks him does he resort to his great brain powers--though the lady turns out to be one of many doubles! Can he find the real Queen of the World and stop her before she takes over the planet? Tune in and see for yourself.
Overall, the film is great campy fun but cannot possibly be enjoyed unless the viewer has a love of kitsch and finds the whole thing rather funny. Serious folks who only like "sophisticated" fare probably won't be impressed...this is NOW Shakespeare!
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