Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


Dead or only resting? John Phillip Law as Diabolik
DANGER: DIABOLIK (aka Diabolik/1968). Director: Mario Bava.

Diabolik (John Phillip Law) is a ruthless master criminal who dresses in a black leather outfit that only exposes his eyes. He lives in an elaborate HQ with pools, caverns, equipment, and a humongous revolving bed, and shares his life and crimes with his girlfriend, Eva (Marisa Mell). His chief opponent is Inspector Ginko (Michel Piccoli), who is determined to bring him to justice. To that end Ginko forces hoodlum Ralph Valmont (Adolfo Celi of Thunderball) to arrange to kidnap Eve and ensnare Diabolik in a trap. "It takes a thief to catch a thief," intones Ginko. Danger: Diabolik is based on an Italian comic book which in turn was inspired by the adventures of French criminal Fantomas. The movie is very sixties in its pop-style sensibility, and at least one scene reminds one of the Batman TV series, but for the most part the pic is played more or less straight. Diabolik's schemes, especially as they pertain to some stolen emeralds and faking his own death, are extremely clever, and there's a neat sequence when Valmont and Diabolik are fighting each other even after they've fallen out of an airplane. The movie boasts some interesting settings and scenic design but Ennio Morricone's score is just horrible. Law [The Sergeant] makes a splendid Diabolik; Mell [One On Top of the Other] is effective as Eve; Celi and Piccoli are each fine as crook and inspector; and Terry-Thomas is wonderful as a dignitary trying to hold on to his dignity. This is much better than the sixties Fantomas movie, and much, much better than horror-specialist Bava's other "spy" pic, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs.

Verdict: Highly entertaining comic book flick with a completely amoral "hero." ***.

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