French heartthrob Jean-Paul Belmondo plays Francois, a reclusive novelist whose wild imagination gets the best of him in this delightful blend of fantasy and adventure. Becoming the lead character from his own book, the da... more »shing spy-hero Bob Saint Clair, Francois is hysterically thrown into the middle of his latest espionage case in a hilarious whirlwind of chases, betrayals, confrontations and mutual attraction. Long before "Austin Powers," this cleverly-written French comedy outrageously portrays the spy game like it's never been seen before!« less
"This is a gimmick film, but unlike many such movies it manages to avoid the pitfalls of not moving beyond the initial joke. Francois Merlin is a spy novelist, and uses people and events in his life as fodder for his stories, but also as a means of gaining control of a fictional life that supplants in many ways his actual life. If one thought of it as a French version of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," one wouldn't be far wrong. Upon first watching the movie, it isn't quite clear what one is watching. It is obviously a spy flick, but an absurd one. The spy, Bob Saint-Clair, is too polished, too adept. While driving down a highway, he casually pulls out a pistol, and shoots over his shoulder without looking, and a would-be assassin falls from a tree. When his enemies throw a hand grenade at him, he takes a tennis racket and serves it perfectly back to them. And of course, he is dynamite with the women, especially the remarkably beautiful Tatiana. It is only later that we learn that the story we are viewing is being generated by the typewriter of Merlin. As polished as Saint-Clair is, that is how hapless Merlin is. Unable to deal even with repairmen, he is able to wreck his revenge on them by putting them in his story. Of course, we later learn who the model for Tatiana is, when the beautiful American student who is his neighbor, Christine, is first revealed. The rest of the movie is very good, though I have to confess the beginning is my favorite part. Jean-Paul Belmondo is excellent as Merlin/Saint-Clair. I am perplexed as to why his star career didn't last longer than it did. Jacqueline Bisset is not required to do much beyond look magnificently beautiful, but she manages that wonderfully. Director Phillipe de Broca managed several wonderfully absurd comedies, including JUPITER'S THIGH and KING OF HEARTS. He manages to keep the story on an even keel, never allowing the gimmick to overwhelm the story as a whole.This is not at all your typical comedy. In tone and style it feels more English than French. Regardless, if you want to try something a little bit different, a whole lot entertaining, and way too neglected, give this a shot."
One of a Kind
R. Williams | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I ran into this movie on late night television and not having seen the very beginning was following it diligently, sucked up in the absurd torrent of action, when suddenly a maid was coming across the beach with a vacuum cleaner during a battle. Though this doesn't pretend to the gravitas of a Bunuel, taken in the right way it's every bit as surreal and liberating. It weaves in and out of simple frames of interpretation. Just when you think it's a tad too simplistic, it turns around and puts out another layer of interpretation only to then lampoon it. Jacqueline Bisset and Belmondo are both amazing. Watch this in the right state of mind, open to its playful silliness. Would make a good double bill with 'The Stunt Man'; both are surreal, philosophical explorations of action and its relationship to existence."
BELMONDO AT HIS SELF DEPRECATING BEST
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 03/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Belmondo is the French Bogart. In "LE MAGNIFIQUE," directed by the versatile Phillipe De Broca, in 1973, Belmondo is Francois, a reclusive novelist whose fictional Walter Mitty-ish alter ego, the dashing spy hero Bob Saint Claire, overpowers his real life. "Austin Powers" owes a lot to this high-energy farce that winks at, then involves the audience in a wonderful series of set pieces that allow Francois to get even in writing -- and thus on screen -- with all the people that do him wrong in his real life. A glowingly beauteous Jacqueline Bisset co stars."
"He was devoured by a shark in a phone booth."
Dymon Enlow | 11/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was complaining a few reviews back about failed twist endings well here's a perfect example of a successful twist beginning. The film starts off like an absurd James Bond on growth hormones story of Bob Saint-Clair, the world's greatest secret agent, who is so perfect that when he's driving down the road he'll pull out his pistol and randomly shoot into the passing scenery hitting a hiding enemy agent each time.
After about 15 - 20 minutes of Saint-Clair's increasingly wild exploits (and sexual conquests) the writer's cleaning lady comes in...what?! What's going on here? That's right we've been riding along on the imagination of Francois Merlin, the creator of Bob Saint-Clair, the author of his 42 novels and a real life loser.
The tone of Saint-Clair's adventures solely depends on Merlin's current mood in real life. When his editor won't give him an advance the story gets excessively violent, when the plumber makes him mad he throws him in the story and shoots him to death, but when he starts talking to his hot upstairs neighbor (played by Jacqueline Bisset) the story gets happier and more erotic. My favorite part is when Merlin is mad at Saint-Clair so he turns him into a bumbling idiot.
LE MAGNIFIQUE (THE MAGNIFICENT ONE) is not everyone's cup of tea, but I found it to be funny, imaginative, well-executed and oddly enough sweet."
In Like Belmondo
EddieLove | NYC, USA | 09/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Belmondo clowns up a storm in this amusing and good-hearted farce. In a plot that foreshadows the classic stage musical City of Angels, the picture shifts back and forth between a hack writer and scenes of his tough-guy creation. These film-within-a-film sequences are wildly over the top spy spoofs ala the Matt Helm and Flint movies. Only funny. The writer scenes featuring a rumpled JP and a seriously gorgeous Jacqueline Bisset are similar to early Woody Allen movies. Definitely doesn't overstay it's welcome at ninety minutes."