That Man from Rio (1964)

Directed by Philippe de Broca
Written by Philippe de Broca, Daniel Boulanger, Ariane Mnouchkine, Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Produced by Georges Dancigers, Alexandre Mnouchkine
Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Françoise Dorléac, Jean Servais, Milton Ribeiro, Sabu Do Brasil, Adolfo Celi, Ubiracy De Oliveira, Simone Renant, Daniel Ceccaldi, Christian Bagot, Roger Dumas

Across the Atlantic from gray, refined Paris to squalid, sunny Rio de Janeiro, then developing new capital Brasilia, and beyond into Brazil’s riotous rainforests comes a tricksy, tireless, two-fisted French soldier (Belmondo) who runs, swims, rows, flies, skydives, funambulates, bicycles, motorcycles, shams, cajoles, and fistfights in pursuit of the thugs (Ribeiro, Brasil, et al.) who abducted his bratty, scatterbrained girlfriend (Dorléac) and an archaeologist (Servais) who unearthed with her father a priceless Amazonian statue of a trio to be reunited, which they’ve purloined from his museum. De Broca’s wry, romantic, binational adventure is probably the best of Belmondo’s early vehicles, showcasing the Italo-French star’s abounding appeal and derring-do in performance of no few hazardous stunts as his indefatigable private. He’s paired well with gorgeous, grating Dorléac, with whom he has scarcely a spare minute to cultivate their chemistry. Boldly pinguid Celi is cunningly cast as a lusty industrialist who’s indispensable to the pivotal twist of the movie’s midpoint. At his best, De Broca’s cameras cannily dolly, zoom, and soar through memorably massive long shots at varied altitudes, but he handily helms tightly framed action cut punctiliously by Françoise Javet. One needn’t be a fan of pug-lovely Belmondo to enjoy his expeditious escapade….but you should.

Recommended for a double feature paired with Le Sauvage or Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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