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  Ravishing Idiot, A I Spy BB
Year: 1964
Director: Édouard Molinaro
Stars: Brigitte Bardot, Anthony Perkins, Grégoire Aslan, Jean-Marc Tennberg, Hans Verner, Jacques Monod, Hélène Dieudonné, Charles Millot, Jacques Hilling, Paul Demange, Frederica Layne, Annick Allières, Dominique Page, Robert Murzeau, Jacques Dynam
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Harry Compton (Anthony Perkins) is a Soviet spy in London, in fact that's not even his real name, he is actually Nicolas Miloukne, a loyal party man who has been doing his best in this espionage game but the best is none too good. Much of that is down to his current interest which is taking up most of his time, and it's nothing to do with spying, it's the young woman (Brigitte Bardot) he sees in a restaurant every day who helps herself to a variety of puddings and desserts. She is so beautiful that Harry is utterly captivated to the point of neglecting the rest of his duties, yet he cannot pluck up the courage to speak to her, though he is aware that she is aware of him. Today, when he has the chance to get in her good books by retrieving her shoe from a naughty dog, is this his time?

Well, there's a title, talk about giving with one hand and taking away with the other; it was Une ravissante idiote in its original French and referred to BB's character in that she was supposed to be as dim as she was attractive. It was not all bad, however, as she was able to prove herself as someone more capable than that by the end of the movie, but the idea that she was some blonde bimbo trading on her looks to get a career was difficult to shake, and indeed dogged many of the silver screen's great beauties. It didn't help Bardot's case that for the most part she was cast in mostly fluff and rarely had the opportunity to demonstrate much of an ability as far as thespian talent went.

Which brought us to a sadly rather typical comedy from her filmography, where she was teamed up with Anthony Perkins, who never lived down a certain role in a certain Alfred Hitchcock movie and was by 1964 when this was made looking further afield than Hollywood for jobs. Here he had to serve up humour, and while that was not outwith his abilities, he was a curious choice as leading man in a Bardot flick; perhaps he was cast to give hope to the male cinemagoers more bumbling and awkward around women that they could indeed attract the interest of a catch like her, thus fuelling all sorts of romantic fantasies. And let's be honest, not necessarily solely the romantic fantasies given her sex symbol status.

Yet of course, behind the movie star façade Bardot and Perkins were deeply troubled by their fame which had had a detrimental effect on their sanity, which if nothing else prompts you to wonder what they found to talk about while joining forces here. Did they have much in common, or was it just another job on the production line? Certainly as far as their screen chemistry went they appeared to get along very well, provoking a wish in the viewer that the material they had been asked to deliver had been stronger: this was essentially a French farce in the Bond era, though oddly it was more like a John Le Carré yarn that had been retooled with a bunch of daft jokes and a lot of running about, to make it appear as if there was substantially more going on than there actually was. The abundance of bowler hats was visual shorthand for London, though it was plainly made in France.

Not that you would be fooled either way, for there may have been the occasional neat touch, such as the weightlifting granny gag, for the most part this was weak stuff that all the freneticism was not going to boost into something resembling a quality comedy. It had a selection of spy movie clichés, such as the file that everyone wants to get their hands on, though in this case it was trying to get it into others' hands that was the issue, but there were no gadgets (unless you counted the errant vacuum cleaner) and not really so much as a car chase though cars were involved intermittently. Nevertheless, there was plenty of motion, some of it speeded up in a sure sign of desperation to be regarded as fun, but you would need to be easily pleased to be impressed by what passed for humour in this, let's use that dreaded word, romp. All that said, it was harmless overall, and if Bardot and Perkins as a double act held more promise than the film was willing to supply then here was a chance to see them together that curiosity might cause more than a few movie buffs to take a chance on. Star power can excuse quite a bit. Music by Michel Legrand.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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