#351 Danger: Diabolik

Watched: January 5 2023

Director: Mario Bava

Starring: John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell, Michel Piccoli, Adolfo Celi, Claudio Gora, Terry-Thomas, Mario Donen

Year: 1968

Runtime: 1h 45min

Diabolik: a criminal mastermind! Think 1960s Batman villain/dark James Bond. He has a suave underground lair, fast cars and even faster dames, revealing showers, infinite tricks up his (immaculately tailored) sleeves, and a lust for adventure and danger surpassing even Rick O’Connell. He also has A Dame of His Own; Eva – a trusted sidekick and confidant as well as Secret-Lover-in-the-Night-Time (or really any time, it seems). Like her man, the Dame has expensive taste and her only wish for her birthday is an emerald necklace owned by a powerful politician’s wife. Cue heist!

“I think, for this heist, I shall wear my BLACK leather daddy mask.”
“No! Wait! This calls for my sad beige mask for sad beige röbberies!”

Now, being a Criminal Mastermind, Diabolik has managed to piss off both law inforcement, represented by inspector Ginko, and a mafia-like crime syndicate, led by the ruthless Valmont. They’re both after his hide, and throughout the movie our anti-hero and Eva must thwart their plots and avoid capture, traps and certain death.

Not to mention avoid papercuts in unmentionable places

Danger: Diabolik is the epitome of the 1960s in our minds (of course, as we are very young and nubile, we didn’t experience the decade ourselves); it’s colourful, cool, sexy and sleek. At first, Diabolik himself was presented like a clear hero – his first heist was immaculately planned with no loss of life. However, as the film progressed, he started killing people left, right and centre. Still, he is much more humane with more of a moral compass than say crime boss Valmont, and we loved how we ende up rooting for both Diabolik and Inspector Ginko. Diabolik and Eva seem very much in love and in a surprisingly healthy relationship. You know, apart from the crime of it all.

And the aforementioned papercuts.

We loved the art/graphics of this, the fact that we learn nothing about the backstory of this gentleman criminal (we guess there might be more meat on that bone in the original comic, but we enjoyed the mystery of it all), the Morricone score and the drama queen that is Diabolik himself. It’s a funny, cool, stylish and thoroughly entertaining watch, and we recommend it to basically everyone. Enjoy!

“I told you this would happen, Diabolik! Look at this! Pick me up some ointment on the way home..?”

What we learned: Clearly, there’s a universe out there where cars and guns come cheap, but fabric for women’s clothing is out of everyone’s price range. Also, it is impossible NOT to pronounce Diabolik as “diabolique.”

Next time: Dark of the Sun (1968)

#350 Coogan’s Bluff

Watched: August 20 2022

Director: Don Siegel

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee J. Cobb, Susan Clark, Tisha Sterling, Don Stroud, Betty Field, Tom Tully

Year: 1968

Runtime: 1h 33min

Coogan, a sheriff’s deputy in Arizona, is sent to New York City to pick up a prisoner and bring him back for trial. Easy enough you might think. But you’d be wrong. The prisoner, James Ringerman, is not so much in jail as he is in Bellevue after a bad LSD trip. In order to get him back, Coogan has to follow loads of rules, regulations and procedures. Coogan is not a fan of rules and regulations. Or procedures. So he bluffs to get Ringerman out of Bellevue. Hence the title purloined from an actual location in NYC. See what they did there?

Sure, I’m a stoic and sassy bad ass alpha male, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good wordplay. What, a man can’t have layers?

Unfortunately, Ringerman escapes and neither NYPD Lt. McElroy nor Sheriff McCrea is very impressed by Coogan’s shenanigans so they both command him off the case. However, Coogan is not a fan of commands either, so he promptly ignores them and decides to hunt down his escaped prisoner.

You can’t touch this – dun dun-dun-dun dun dun

Along the way, he runs into the weirdest female character – Julie Roth. She’s some sort of psychoanalyst/social worker/parole officer working with young women on probation, and her fetish is being taken advantage of and objectified by men. Perfect for Coogan who is all about the objectification of women. Sometimes fate just intervenes and brings people together.

For the rest of the movie Coogan runs around NYC getting into brawls and beds in his hunt for Ringerman. He quips and sasses, and participates in quite a cool motorcycle chase. But will he catch his prey?

…or will he just catch STDs?

Ok, the action is cool and we loved the swinging 60s party, but the protagonist and the “love story” seem incredibly dated. Coogan, though kind of hilarious at times and undeniably intelligent and charming, is a cocky and chauvinistic asshole with absolutely no regard for anyone else. Which we guess is sort of the point; the conservative (in some ways) country boy vs. the liberal city values. And while it probably works as intended, it’s kind of Toxic Masculinity: The Movie. Also, Julie needs some serious therapy for falling for his crap. Actually, they both need therapy, but she seems more likely to seek it out. He has no reason to, as society keeps rewarding him for his assholey behaviour and talking about your feelings is probably for city sissies anyway.

“I can fix you!”

Coogan’s Bluff is interesting as a double feature with Bullitt; the contrast between the two protagonists (who in many ways are very similar) only underlines what a bitch Coogan is. Still a fun watch though – the bar brawl is legendary. And sure, we get how a young Clint Eastwood might blind a young psychologist to anything but the D, but come on Julie! He is never going to meet your emotional needs. Just bang him and get it out of your system. If you need a strong, silent type with a clear sense of right and wrong who still doesn’t mind breaking a few rules to bring criminals to justice, and who is comfortable being in a relationship with an educated, professional woman, look no further than Lt. Bullitt.

What we learned: Sometimes the hot bastard is just a hot bastard – don’t waste your time searching for that hidden heart of gold and ascribing characteristics to them that they just don’t possess.

Next time: Danger: Diabolik (1968)

#349 Bullitt

Watched: August 20 2022

Director: Peter Yates

Starring: Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn, Don Gordon, Robert Duvall, Simon Oakland, Georg Stanford Brown

Year: 1968

Runtime: 1h 54min

Happy New Year guys. It’s been a minute. For reasons. But like us, Edgar has been busy editing the list and adding lots of new titles! Loads of juicy bits for us to bite into. Yummy! Thus, we shall once again pick up the mantle of chronicling our odyssey through the list (provided we don’t get too distracted by side quests again). Allons-y!

That tagline tho. Is the Sunday Mirror impressed? Awed? Just informative? How far back can they recall? The public needs to know!

We’ll pick up (sort of) where we left off, with Peter Yates’ Bullitt (although it has jumped from #305 to #349. Which means that while you may have thought we took a year’s hiatus, we actually managed to do 44 films. In a strange, but also very real, way. For an explanation of how we deal with numbering, read here).
In San Francisco, Lt. Frank Bullitt is tasked with keeping star witness and former mobster Johnny Ross safe for the next 40 hours, until he is scheduled to testify in a hearing which is supes important, for a dodgy politician named Chalmers. It’s a whole thing.

“You see, the trick behind a successful political career is to really accentuate your chin in conversation. Like this. Try sticking your jaw out a bit more when speaking and you’ll find that people will soon see you in a completely different light!”

Bullitt and his men fail miserably and Ross is shot on the first night. He survives for a bit in hospital, but when he finally bites the dust Bullitt teams up with his surgeon to hide the body for a bit so that he can keep investigating the murder. With both Chalmers and Captain Bennett putting the pressure on him, our hero must solve the mystery and complete his investigation while he avoids being murdered and stuff.

“I’m off to avoid being murdered. And stuff.” (Possibly actual quote)

Bullitt is a violent action thriller, and the violence comes in short, quick increments, making it all the more effective. It also has an iconic car chase (some might even say it “surpasses any within recall”) in the hilly streets of San Francisco (where both the good guy and the bad guys are inexplicably outrun by an unassuming green beetle on several occasions), and a climactic foot chase in an airport to round it all off. Steve McQueen, a personal favourite of Sister the Youngest, is perfect in the title role. Very much the strong, silent type, his intensity makes him believable as a cop who will stand up to his superiors and do what’s right.

Seriously – the beetle keeps popping up everytime they’ve rounded a corner. It might be a Tardis.

We loved McQueen’s cardigan game (cardigame?), the very ’60s soundtrack, the nurses’ headgear (how did anyone ever think that was practical?), Eddy’s entire look (choices!), the African American surgeon (progressive for the time? Or do we only think it is because things are still so shitty in the world? God, that’s a very depressing thought, isn’t it..?) the chases, the murders, the mystery and the mayhem. And Steve McQueen’s absolute coolness. That man really knew how to work the silences.

Don’t be fooled by the cardi I’ve got, I’m still, I’m still gonna shoot you in the face ’cause I’m a bad motherfucker

What we learned: You work your side of the street and I’ll work mine.

Next time: Coogan’s Bluff (1968)