Phillipe de Broca repped the lighter side of the French New Wave, and never more effectively than in this deservedly popular comic adventure. A deliriously fit Jean-Paul Belmondo is the soldier on week’s leave who follows fiancée Françoise Dorléac to Brazil when she’s mysteriously kidnapped. Seems a trio of Indian sculptures are a working piece of a treasure map that leads to a horde of diamonds; and only Dorléac knows where one of the three is. That’s about as serious as this gets, but it’s enough to give de Broca the impetus needed for a series of dashing adventures that keep Belmondo buried in derring-do for two fast-paced hours. Lots of local color (looking a bit ethnocentrically dated, but still fun) fill in the cracks between the breezy plot & dastardly villains before the film hits its peak during an extended chase sequence (loaded with dangerous stunting for Jean-Paul), in the empty modernity of the unfinished new capital of Brasilia. Dropping dialogue and even Georges Delerue’s fine score, de Broca challenges himself to some of his best work, crafting compound physical gags Lloyd & Keaton would have been proud to own. Long unavailable in any form, a fine restoration (out via Cohen Media) proves irresistible.
DOUBLE-BILL: De Broca claimed Hergé’s Tintin comic adventures as inspiration which provides an excuse to resample Steven Spielberg’s mezza-mezza try with THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN/’11. (Less Hergé than INDIANA JONES V.) OR: The period panache of de Broca’s unexpected swashbuckling comeback in ON GUARD/’97.