Nov 5, 2010

Repost: Fury In Marrakesh Review

Continuing this week's blogiversary celebration, here's another "classic" repost.  The ending of this Eurospy movie is just so bizarre that it's forever etched on my memory.  But even before that, the movie is just a lot of fun, and a great example of the genre. Here's the first part of my review of Fury in Marrakesh, along with a link at the end to the entire original post:

DVD Review: Fury In Marrakesh (Furia A Marrakech) (1966)

For a movie with Marrakesh in the title, I was expecting a lot of deserts and North African rooftops and marketplaces. But while the film does offer those sights, it also offers so many more: tropical beaches, Times Square neon, and snowy Alpine vistas. Fury In Marrakesh takes us to hot spy locations all around the world, and lets us soak up the atmosphere. It’s actually one of the best spy movies I can think of in terms of sheer variety in exciting settings. It’s also one of the most fun Eurospy films I’ve seen, delivering almost everything you could want from the genre: impressive chases, good fights, cool gadgets (loads of ‘em, in fact!), beautiful women (though, surprisingly, not a main one) and, of course, the aforementioned locales. Top that all off with one of the strangest, jaw-droppingly mind boggling endings of any Eurospy flick, and it’s easy to recommend Fury In Marrakesh–highly. In fact, provided they’re not put off by the inexplicable oddness of the ending, this would be a great introduction to the genre for James Bond fans looking to broaden their spy horizons. Maybe the next step into Eurospy waters from the slightly more sure footing of Deadlier Than the Male.

Supposedly Fury In Marrakesh is the third in the "Bob Fleming" series that began with Secret Agent Fireball, but it’s so hard to actually delineate Eurospy series since the movies and their characters had so many different names in the various countries they were released in. (Based on the popularity of the three genuine "077" movies starring Ken Clark, that number was ascribed to just about every Eurospy hero in one country or another at various times!) The marketing campaigns for Fury In Marrakesh showcased in the poster gallery on Fin de Siecle’s new Region 2 DVD call the movie by many different names (Death Pays In Dollars is a good one) and identify the hero as, variously, Bob Fleming, Joe Fleming and Bob Dixon, among others. On the English language dub included on this disc, Bob Dixon is the name they go with. But the movie is from the pen of Ernesto Gastaldi, writer of the two previous Bob Fleming movies, and directed by the team responsible for the first one as well, so it’s reasonable to assume that it is meant to be a Bob Fleming adventure. If it is, though, then it’s a Casino Royale-like reboot of the brief series–and only a year after it began! Fleming is now played by the younger, lither Stephen Forsyth, stepping into Richard Harrison’s shoes. And when we meet him, he’s still in spy school. Fury In Marrakesh is the story of his first mission. (His boss even worries it’s "too complex a mission " to send so green an agent!) And Forsyth (coming off as sort of a cross between George Lazenby and John Phillip Law) is better suited to playing a neophyte agent than the more world-weary Harrison. So is this a carefully constructed and deliberately recast prequel revealing all the complex motivations that drive Fleming in his subsequent adventures, explaining how he became such an arrogant chauvinist? Actually, it kind of works along those lines–but, no, clearly not. No Eurospy adventure was ever that thought through. It seems clear that it’s supposed to be a different character entirely, so I’ll call him by the name he’s given in this print: Bob Dixon.

For what it ultimately becomes, Fury In Marrakesh opens quite inauspiciously, with a girl drugging a man and then robbing his safe... which is hidden inside an awfully fake-looking television set. (What happens if someone wants to watch TV?) After this action-free, single-setting pre-title sequence that clearly has nothing on James Bond, we’re into the credits and the zippy theme music. Then the SPECTRE-like villainous organization assembles, and their perpetually sunglasses-wearing leader addresses them, dramatically revealing, "My real name is Karl Kuntz!" with a louder, obviously different voice than the rest of the dub. What could be the reason for that? Judging from the non-removable Swedish subtitles, the Swedes think he's called Charlie Clark. His objective? To spread Nazi counterfeit dollars and pounds ("Hitler's treasure," found in a hidden vault), flooding the market, making him and his men rich and ruining the American economy! (And presumably the British one as well, though he doesn’t mention it.) But there’s a problem. Someone in his own organization has already stolen some of the counterfeit money. The girl from the opening! She’s called Monique on the English track and Dora on the Italian one and in the Swedish subtitles, and she’s played by Dominique Boschero (Secret Agent Fireball, Fantastic Argoman).

The action moves to New York City, represented in 1965 by the World’s Fair... a place apparently teeming with spies! An American official says that Monique " was spotted by one of our agents at the Fair." One of them! Apparently, it was seen as a wise allocation of government funds to deploy lots of agents to the World’s Fair! I guess it was cheaper than really sending them to all those countries... and, hey, it paid off! Hearing that intel, the suited American officials determine, "We’re going to need the most discrete agent the CIA can assign to this mission." Cue Bob Dixon....
Go here to read the my entire review including a sleazy Q, a cocky agent, a crazy spy school and lots of striptease numbers.

1 comment:

Delmo said...

Your review, plus the fact that a scene was filmed in Times Square, was enough to get me to buy it way back when.