That Man From Rio (1964)

That Man From Rio (1964)

“That’s no ordinary statue: it’s priceless, the relic of a lost civilization.”

While visiting his girlfriend (Françoise Dorléac), a private (Jean-Paul Belmondo) on leave from the army becomes unwittingly caught up in a kidnapping tied to a deeper plot involving a professor (Jean Servais) with obsessive ties to a Maltec figurine.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • French Films
  • Jean-Paul Belmondo Films
  • Kidnapping
  • Search

Philippe De Broca directed this Bond-inspired action-adventure (with an Oscar-nominated screenplay by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Ariane Mnouchkine, Daniel Boulanger and de Broca) that became the fifth highest earning film of the year. It’s fast-paced, colorful, and entirely innocuous thriller taking us from Paris to Brazil, with suave but goofy Belmondo performing many of his own stunts, and Dorléac perfectly cast as his carefree girlfriend.

As noted in Jeff Stafford’s article for TCM, “The James Bond film craze of the early sixties inspired an endless stream of pale imitations and parodies but occasionally a gem could be found amid the rubbish heap” — including this “tongue-in-cheek adventure tale that spoofed 007-like heroics while paying homage to everything from matinee serials like The Perils of Pauline to movie icons like Tarzan and Harold Lloyd.” The influence of Belgian cartoonist Hergé (creator of Tintin) is clear, and the final scenes — taking place in the jungles of Brasilia — evoke vibes of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Romancing the Stone (1984).

Watch for French movie icon Jean Marais in a crucial supporting role as sinister Professor Catalan, who is bound and determined to locate a specific historic figurine at any cost.

While this one isn’t must-see, it’s recommended if you’re curious to see well-crafted adventure fare from this era.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Jean-Paul Belmondo as Private Adrien Duforquet
  • Françoise Dorléac as Agnès
  • Numerous well-crafted gags and stunts
  • Fine use of location shooting

Must See?
No, but it’s certainly recommended if this is your cup of tea. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “That Man From Rio (1964)

  1. First viewing (8/30/20).

    Not-very-successful caper flick / popcorn movie that consistently attempts to be amusing – which it never quite succeeds at.

    Saddled with a very t-h-i-n premise, the film’s particular calling card is the various ways in which Belmondo is called on to athletically rise to the occasion in precarious / dangerous situations. (He appears to be doing his own stunts.)

    Dorleac, in a tepid performance, is simply ‘the girl’.

    The film does have one genuine surprise up its sleeves but the lack of substance here is evident – the film just isn’t as much fun as it wants to be.

Leave a Reply