samedi 5 décembre 2009

Starring Bernard Lee, Loïs Maxwell,Clifton James...

Remember the Kung Fu craze initiated by Bruce Lee and ' Enter the Dragon ' ?

Even the Bond producers took notice and , after shamelessly borrowing from Blackxploitation for the previous film, decided to go Martial Arts in TMWGG...

But wait , another film preempted that entry, starring none other than Bernard Lee as the MI.6 boss, with a faifhfull secretary played by Loïs Maxwell, a stupid C.I.A agent in the guise of Sheriff J.W Pepper himself ( Clifton James ) ...And incredible stunts devised by none other than Remy Julienne ( which may actually have opened him the doors of Eon Productions years later )

Title of that film ?

' From Hong Kong With Love ' ( aka ' Bons Baisers de Hong Kong ' )

Add to that Mickey Rooney himself as a completely mad Villain ( in Mad Hatter mode , to be precise ) , some demented script , a main theme which could have been sung by Al ' Weird' Jancovic himself , some credits title sequence clearly inspired by Maurice Binder's 007 efforts and you get...A total ( but funny ) Mess !

Designed primary as a vehicle for France then Number 1 comic guys , ' Les Charlots ' ( eeer , how to describe them to my US friends : a low level french version of the Marx Bros. perhaps ? But very,very low... ) , the film borrowed heavily on the Bond image ( see official Film poster ) to the point of having a Gunbarrel sequence with ' James Bond ' shot at in the most original opening ever seen in a Bond spoof..

After a very short pre credits sequence starring...Former President Richard Nixon ( stating " I swear everything that follows is the truth and nothing but the truth ! " ) the film then properly begins with an interesting twist : the kidnapping of Her Majesty , Queen Elisabeth II ,during a Golf tournament.
Since the British Secret Service has been decapitated by the loss of his best agent ( hilarious Miss Moneypenny , dressed in black , and still mourning ...
Dialogues :
M : " Get me our best agent asap ! "
Moneypenny : " you're thinking of...James ? But he's been dead for three years now .Sob.Sigh " ...
'M' is therefore forced to call his french counterpart of the S.D.E.C.E in Paris for help...Who in turn mischieviously decides to put his worst agents on the case , Les Charlots !!!!
Hugely popular at the times , Les Charlots ( who were musicians at their beginnings and not actors ) switched to Movies in the early 70s and starred in a succession of Box office hits for almost a decade . They were also Mega Stars in Germany, Spain, Italy...
To ensure some potential sales to both U.K and the USA , it was suggested that two different versions of the film should be shot .
A normal one in French , and an ' export-only ' entirely in English .
To achieve that dauting task , the whole French cast was submitted to intensive practical English courses for two months before the actual shooting starts . Sadly , that ingenuous idea was dropped at the last minute .
Although rapidly loosing any 007 connection in the course of action, and quite frankly becoming a mess story-wise , the film remains entertaining , mainly for its gorgeous photography ( boat chase on the Seine , Kung Fu fights in Sir Run Run Shaw HK studios ,and even the late apparition of a mint Chitty Chitty Bang Bang copycat vintage vehicle ! ) .
In his official memoirs , Jean Sarrus ( one of the Charlots ) admitted they were more interested with Opium smoking while shooting in Hong Kong than with the actual script . Honest !
For more information ( in French ) go to the excellent site :

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