Our Man In Marrakesh (1966) | Tony Randall dodges bullets, babes and baddies in an amusing Euro spy spoof
A MATTER OF MURDER IN MARRAKESH
American architect Andrew Jessel (Tony Randall) arrives in Marrakesh for a short break, but unwittingly ends up helping the mysterious Kyra (Senta Berger) dump the body of her recently murdered boyfriend. What the hell has he got himself into? Well, it soon transpires that Kyra is a CIA agent trying to flush out sleazy gangster Mr Casimir (Herbert Lom), who is waiting the arrival of a courier carrying $2million in cash to pay him to fix an important United Nations vote. But who could the courier be?
BANG! BANG! YOU’RE DEAD!
Produced and written (as Peter Welbeck) by Harry Alan Towers, who was legendary in the 1960s for a slew of B-movie Euro thrillers, and directed by Don Sharp, who also helmed Tower’s Fu Manchu movies with Christopher Lee, Our Man In Marrakesh (re-titled in the US as Bang! Bang! You’re Dead!) is an amusing spy farce that spoofs Hitchcock’s 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much by way of 1959’s North by Northwest and Carol Reed’s Our Man in Havana.
Laconic Hollywood star Tony Randall, best known for Pillow Talk and the 7 Faces of Dr Lao at the time, got a busman’s holiday under the Moroccan sun along with a host of famous faces including Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski and Terry-Thomas, as well as Wilfred Hyde White, John Le Mesurier, Senta Berger and Towers regular, Margaret Lee.
Shot on location in and around a very cosmopolitan-looking Marrakesh, including the luxury La Mamounia hotel (which was also used in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much remake), as well as the city’s souks, a grand Riad, and the El Badi Palace (for the big climax), this entertaining slice of Euro silliness keeps you guessing over the identity of the courier.
Could it be John Le Mesurier’s mysterious travel agent or Wilfred Hyde White’s sanitary china salesman or someone else entirely? Terry-Thomas is simply hilarious as an aristocratic Berber with a love for cucumber sandwiches; while Gregoire Aslan, as cheery trucker Achmed, is the film’s unsung hero (he later appeared in Gordon Hessler’s The Golden Voyage of Sinbad). Another highlight is Malcolm Lockyer’s Euro spy score (all harpsicord and bongos), which has shades of his Dr Who and the Daleks film score lurking in the stirring strings.
‘Nothing to do with money is vulgar’ Mr Casimir (Herbert Lom)
‘The Windmill theatre now a cinema? Dreadful!’ El Caid (Terry-Thomas)
THE UK DVD RELEASE
Our Man In Marrakesh is presented in a new transfer from the original film elements from StudioCanal, and is released by Network Distributing. A trailer (featuring all the exciting bits), image gallery and pdf promotional material are also included.
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My reviews for Harry Alan Towers’ House of 1000 Dolls, starring Vincent Price; The Girl From Rio, with Shirley Eaton and George Sanders; and The Bloody Judge, starring Christopher Lee. The UK Blu-ray of Don Sharp’s 1963 Hammer horror Kiss of the Vampire is also reviewed here.
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (2013) | A bewitching, bewildering slice of Euro psycho horror that’s pure cinematic alchemy
Following the strange disappearance of his wife inside their Brussels apartment, businessman Dan Kristensen (Klaus Tange) seeks to uncover her whereabouts. On discovering a series of secret corridors and concealed rooms within the walls of the building, Dan encounters its inhabitants whose tales of sensuality and sadism play out before him…
PURE CINEMATIC ALCHEMY
Prepare to have a sensory overload because this beautifully constructed erotic horror-thriller is one hell of a ride, evoking the dark cinema of Dario Argento, Mario Bava and Roman Polanksi, and the surreal imaginings of Guy Maddin, David Lynch and the Brothers Quay. It’s the latest effort of Belgian husband and wife directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani and follows their 2009 giallo-inspired cult film Amer and their sensual O is for Orgasm offering in 2012’s The ABCs of Death.
Featuring a sublime soundtrack that plays like a greatest hits of 1970s Italian horror, a stunning Victor Horta-styled Art Nouveau apartment dressed in covetable Mid-Century modern décor, evocative photography, and some truly masterful editing, the Belgian Bavas have brewed up a bewitching, bewildering slice of Euro psycho horror that’s pure cinematic alchemy.
Danish actor Klaus Tange, who looks like 1970s Euro stars Franco Nero and Klaus Kinski, is the grizzled, twinkly-eyed protagonist who gets caught in a web of intrigue in the very walls of his apartment, which becomes more and more sinister after he steps within its inky blackness. Here, time and space seemingly collide, creating a puzzle box filled with sex, murder, childhood memories and loads of red herrings.
From its evocative, unforgettable title to its amazing execution, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is a wonderous gift to genre fans, and Cattet and Forzani have succeeded brilliantly in using the cinematic vocabulary of the giallo to create a dream film that brings to bloody brutal erotic life their unqiuely perverse vision. Truly they are the premier puppet masters of our fears and desires.
So crack open a packet of Gitanes, put another groovy Euro track on the turntable and prepare yourself for a giddy, kaleidoscopic experience you won’t easily forget.
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is now playing in selected UK cinemas, and is available to stream at MetrodomeVOD[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYXXpT11WtM%5D