The Reluctant Swashbuckler: That Man from Rio (1964)

Agnès Adrien Statue

When Adrien Dufourquet (Jean-Paul Belmondo) arrives in Paris at the start of the 1964 film That Man from Rio, he’s looking forward to all the fun he’ll have there during his week’s leave from the military — but fate has other plans for him.

That same day, a small earthenware statue is stolen from the city’s Musée de l’Homme. Although there’s some question as to why the thief went after this particular piece and ignored the more valuable items all around it, Professor Norbert Catalan (Jean Servais) thinks he has the answer. He explains that the statue is a relic of the long-lost Maltek people of South America, decimated by Europeans centuries ago, and that he and two colleagues found a trio of these figurines during an Amazonian expedition three years earlier. His was the one taken from the museum; a second belongs to Mario De Castro (Adolfo Celi), the expedition’s wealthy Brazilian backer; and the third’s whereabouts are unknown, as its owner, a man named Villermosa, was killed by a poisoned arrow. A museum guard met a similar fate during the robbery, leading Catalan to suspect that the Malteks — specialists in poisons and hypnosis — are behind it, in spite of the fact that the entire civilization was believed to have been wiped out.

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Flights of Fantasy: The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967)

On the rare occasions when I watch them, I always approach musicals with a certain wariness. I can’t pinpoint why they don’t appeal to me, especially when there are quite a few exceptions to the rule: West Side StoryMary PoppinsThe Sound of MusicFiddler on the Roof. (The Beatles’ movies never feel like musicals to me, though I suppose they are, and I do love A Hard Day’s Night and Help!) All I know is that I’m not likely to seek out a musical unless it’s required film fan viewing (Singin’ in the Rain, for example) or there’s some other attraction, such as an actor or director whose work I’ve enjoyed. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg fell into the former category; The Young Girls of Rochefort, consequently, fell into the latter.

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