Lucky: “You want my autograph don’t you? You recognised me without my disguise on. Oh, all right, I will sign it for you. But don’t tell anyone I’m here – it’s supposed to be a secret.”
Jess Franco. For fans of Eurospy films, the name either conjures up fear or perverse delight. And Lucky The Inscrutable should be no exception. It is a weird hybrid of comic book and spy movies. If you enjoy (maybe ‘enjoy’ isn’t the word!) Jess Franco’s films, you may find this film has a great deal to offer. In some ways it may be Franco’s most accessible film, as it at least has a sense of humour.
The film opens in London with your standard espionage style sequence. A man is shot down in his hotel room because of the contents of his suitcase. What does his suitcase contain? A large amount of money, that’s what. But the killer doesn’t want the money. He sets the suitcase and the room on fire.
Then we move into a weird title sequence. A girl in a mirrored bikini dances in front of a bank of mirrors. (Think Enter the Dragon but with less martial arts, and more bikinis). Our hero pops up too, as sort of a animated statue. Ray Danton, is ‘Lucky The Inscrutable’, a masked super hero – spy who wears superman style costume with a large yellow ‘L’ on his chest. Naturally for a man of his stature, he is surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women.
It’s carnival time. Decorated floats parade down the street and everyone is wearing costumes and masks. In the evening there is a masquerade ball. Naturally enough, Lucky attends. With his costume and mask he doesn’t even have to dress up. Lucky watches as Beba Loncar weaves through the crowd. On a balcony overlooking the dance floor, she moves to a seat. She is expecting company, but Lucky ingratiates himself upon her. She is not impressed, because she is waiting for Julius Caesar (it is fancy dress). Lucky moves on, but Caesar is then skewered by a trident thrown by a gladiator. His dying words to Beba are: “Find Lucky at once. Take him to Archangel.” Beba doesn’t have to look to find Lucky. A murder at a masquerade ball causes quite a bit of commotion and he soon finds himself at the scene. A little too close perhaps, as he is blamed for the killing. Lucky and Beba are forced to flee.
During a brief respite in the chase, Beba asks Lucky to accompany her to America. Before he can respond the villains of the piece, catch up. Lucky is attacked by a clown and then netted by the murderous gladiator. The three costumed men slug it out. Meanwhile an assassin named Hans catches up with Beba and shoots her. Lucky dispatches his attackers and makes it to Beba’s side before she expires. She hands him a pendant with the emblem for Archangel. Who or what is Archangel. They are the Financiers Secret Society, which appears to be run more like a church, with members dressed in black silk robes. (At this point I do expect to see Charles Grey pop out with a knife. The setting does seem somewhat like one of those adaptations of Dennis Wheatley’s ‘Devil’ novels in the early 70’s.
So Lucky is now in American and he is addressing the members of Archangel. For some strange reason he adopts a hybrid Italian / Shakespearian accent. It’s not exactly Merchant Of Venice, more like your favourite character out of The Godfather playing Hamlet.
Are you finding this review weird? Let me assure you the film is! Recapping we have a super hero wannabe, wearing a black leotard impersonating an American gangster while addressing a council of financiers who are dressed like a coven of devil worshippers (maybe that bit isn’t weird). And Lucky’s motivation is the word of a woman who was dating Julius Caesar, Caesar not dying at the hand of Brutus, but on the end of a trident by someone who looks like Woody Strode’s understudy from Spartacus. Got that? As I said earlier – it’s a Jess Franco film.
Remember at the start I mentioned a fellow who was killed in London and had his suitcase full of money burnt. Well it seems he was a paper chemical specialist who was on the trail of Albanian counterfeiters. The money that was torched was fake. Lucky has to go to Albania and pick up the trail. How does Lucky learn all this? Get ready for more weirdness. During the council, a Jewish Nazi in a wheel chair, who happens to be wearing a white bridal veil, tells him. That simple.
That’s enough synopsis. You’re aware of Lucky’s mission. You should have some idea how offbeat this film is. It’s now up to you if you choose to ride along with him.
While I was watching this film, I was reminded of a film we ‘Aussies’ call Flying High. Funny enough, before I posted this, I quickly flicked through The Eurospy Guide to see if there was anything obvious that I missed. In David Deal’s review in the Guide, he compares Lucky to Airplane. Yep, Flying High and Airplane are the same film. So from the mouths of two different sources, the point being that this is a very broad comedy. That’s not to negate it. Some of it’s quite funny, and for it’s genre (the really, really stupid, comedy spy film) it is pound for pound (laugh for laugh) a whole lot better than the Abraham’s, Zucker Brother’s foray into spy films, Top Secret.
Bruno Nicolai’s soundtrack, by today’s standards, is pretty cheesy. The standout track is ‘Lopagan Island’ which is a jaunty calypso style number with Edda Dell’Orso’s soprano voice warbling over the top. The music lives better in the context of the film, than as a standalone piece of music.
That’s the film (well, a taster anyway). It’s very different to New York Calling Super Dragon, but if you are in the mood for a bit of silliness, then Lucky The Inscrutable is another winner from Rampaging Ray Danton.
This review is based on the Shocking Videos USA DVD