Drivers’ Cinema: Fantômas (1963)
Fantômas (1964) is the French response to Britain’s Bond mania. The story is centered on a criminal named Fantômas, a master of disguise. He’s able to change identities quickly through a series of masks, which enables him to pull of high stakes heists. He is a very elusive character, which makes for some fast paced, enjoyable moments. The film is in many ways a parody of the Bond formula, taking on a lighthearted comedic attitude to the spy genre. Fantômas ensures audiences that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The movie provides the viewer with footage of one of the most rare and beautiful BMWs ever created. A 1956 507 makes a few appearances gliding beautifully along the road. At one point it even does a small burnout. It’s a special treat to see this car in motion on the big screen, as it’s rarely found anywhere else. The film also features a tasteful 1953 Daimler 2 ½ Litre ‘Empress’. Finally, a ’57 Simca Vedette Régence does an impressive two-wheel stand while driving. No spy flick would be complete without some impressive stunt driving.
Personally, I would recommend this film for it’s parodied action sequences. After watching the Bond classic, Dr. No (1962), time and time again, there’s a certain enjoyment in watching French cinema try to craft a Bond-esque movie. From the presentation of the secret lair to Fantomas’s masks, it’s a nice early example of what would later become a super-saturated trend in creating imitation Bond films.