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Sunday, January 24, 2016

BANG! BANG! YOU’RE DEAD! (aka OUR MAN IN MARRAKESH) (1966)

Ignore the idiotic title AIP gave this comic spy caper for Stateside release. Heck, ignore the original title, too, since THAT MAN FROM RIO/64 and OUR MAN IN HAVANA/’59 take a back seat to Hitchcock’s THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH/’56 in this farcical low-renter. The aim of Harry Towers’ original story no doubt was to copy Blake Edwards’ success using TO CATCH A THIEF as a takeoff point for the sophisticated slapstick of THE PINK PANTHER and A SHOT IN THE DARK/’64. (The producers even got Herbert Lom & Burt Kwouk from SHOT to formalize the connection.) Here, it’s government documents rather than a stolen pink diamond, and our international cast is out of a lower drawer. Yet the pic’s pretty good fun all the same. Or is until a big mess of a finale. The plot finds six possible suspects on a tour bus, one with $2 mill. in a briefcase, pay-off for shady Herbert Lom & sideman Klaus Kinsky. (Klaus playing a sort of Herbert Lom Mini-Me.) Lovely, likable Senta Berger is the ‘good’ spy in the group, and Tony Randall (showing his considerable leading man chops in place of his usual fey hysterics) is an American tourist in over his head with international conspiracy and with Ms. Berger. Hang in thru the first two reels (for some reason very washed out looking) for the silly story to start finding its feet and even a touch of charm. The skill set of routine megger Don Sharp lands somewhere between good and good-natured, but low expectations work in this film’s favor.

DOUBLE-BILL: Revisit some of this film’s opening locations in Hitchcock’s habitually underrated THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH remake.

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