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Friday, May 6, 2016

LES TRIBULATIONS DE CHINOIS EN CHINE / UP TO HIS EARS (1965)

A companion piece to the far superior THAT MAN IN RIO/’64, this follow-up reunites director Philippe de Broca with his athletic star Jean-Paul Belmondo in an even broader comic adventure. But straining to top the earlier film, everything now feels forced, with actors trying too hard to be funny. The story, taken ever so loosely from a Jules Verne novel, is the old saw about hiring a hit man to take yourself out, then having circumstances change without being able to put a hold on the contract. Here, complications include a lost fortune, a two million dollar short-term life insurance policy and a prearranged marriage. Jean-Paul has to spend the rest of the film running around the world in 30 days trying to keep ahead of various assassins. Along the way, he finds love (in the form of Ursula Andress), loyalty (from valet Jean Rochefort in the film’s best perf), and stunt-filled close-calls at every turn (many exceedingly well-staged). But it’s less non-stop adventure then cul-de-sac burnout.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY/DOUBLE-BILL: Go first with THAT MAN IN RIO/’64. In France, they count admissions rather than grosses. (So much easier to compare over the years!) EARS, with a little under 3 mill in sales, RIO just under 5 mill. And 2 million absent Frenchmen can't be wrong, non? (Figures from IMDb.com)

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