Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present this month’s installment in our Anniversary Classics Abroad program: one of the most popular and entertaining foreign films of the 1960s, Philippe de Broca’s action romp, THAT MAN FROM RIO.
De Broca, the director of intimate, character-driven films like The Five-Day Lover, shifted gears with this bigger-budget comic thriller. Two top stars of French cinema, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Francoise Dorleac (the sister of Catherine Deneuve who died tragically in an auto accident just three years later), added to the film’s allure.
The action begins when Dorleac is kidnapped as part of a museum heist of a valuable statuette, and Belmondo follows her kidnappers to Brazil to save her life and find the treasure. There he battles international criminals, assassination attempts, and even a hungry crocodile on the Amazon.
The film was designed in part as a spoof of the James Bond movies that were catching fire all around the world. De Broca’s tongue-in-cheek approach to the genre, along with a series of spectacular action set-pieces, led to box office success wherever the film was shown. The film was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. De Broca wrote the script with Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Ariane Mnouchkine, and Daniel Boulanger. Veteran actors Jean Servais and Adolfo Celi co-star.
Along with the wit of the script and the skill of the performers, the film benefited from lush cinematography (by Edmond Sechan) of Paris, Rio, Brasilia, and other South American locations. The New York Times’ Bosley Crowther acknowledged the film’s homage to silent comedy: “Jean-Paul Belmondo is dandy as a fast, fearless modern-day Harold Lloyd.” He added that de Broca “uses the actual locations so vividly and artistically that they generate a kind of excitement that blends superbly with the dazzle of the plot.”
The New Republic’s Stanley Kauffmann also praised de Broca: “he has wit, tenderness, dexterity, a superb eye for composition and color, a prodigious sense of rhythm and movement, a perfect command of the medium.” Time magazine noted that the film was “shrewdly calculated to make the customer laugh out loud at all the lousy movies he has ever seen and at the same time have a wild and wonderful time watching them again.”
Join us for a perfect piece of lighthearted summertime entertainment with two of the most engaging international stars ever to grace the screen. Belmondo remained at the center of French film culture for decades, and de Broca went on to direct one of the most popular of all arthouse movies, King of Hearts.
Our 55th anniversary presentation of THAT MAN FROM RIO screens on Wednesday, August 21st at 7pm in Glendale, Pasadena, and West LA. Click here for tickets.