Tintin (Jean-Pierre Talbot) and Captain Haddock (Georges Wilson) are relaxing in the grounds of their home in Marlinspike Hall when the postman arrives with an important letter for the Captain. He opens it and is saddened to hear his old friend, a sea captain like himself, has died, but at the same time intrigued to learn he has inherited his old boat, The Golden Fleece, which is in an Istanbul harbour. While he and Tintin discuss this, Professor Calculus (Georges Loriot) sets off an explosion in his lab, and rushes out in plumes of red smoke to tell them he is inventing a new fuel, which might come in handy on their latest acquisition...
Hergé's Tintin comic books have proved an enduring favourite with both children and adults ever since they became popular across the world in the nineteen-thirties, so it was natural that they would be filmed eventually. However, before Steven Spielberg got his hands on the property, there were a couple of French and Belgian co-productions in the sixties, filmed with Hergé's blessing, and they still provide happy memories for those who recall seeing them when they were little. This was the first of those, Tintin et le mystère de la toison d'or as it was known originally, and it was not based on any of the existing Tintin books.
A whole new story was dreamed up for these movies, although there were many similarities between the print version and what was put onto celluloid, but this was more imitation than innovation as while there were recognisable elements to the personality of the production there was little about this which devised something truly novel to do with the characters, which you could argue that Hergé did on the page. Therefore there was no rocket to the moon or encounters with the Abominable Snowman here, simply a straightforward treasure hunt, all performed with good humour and paying homage in an unassuming fashion. What they did get right was the look of the famed heroes.
This meant that Tintin's quiff was present and correct, Snowy was the same breed of white terrier, and Captain Haddock had his bushy beard and blue jumper decorated with an anchor. So if the filmmakers had set out to recreate the visuals, they did a fine job as along with the costumes and makeup there were the exotic locations that were a staple of the young reporter's tales. Mainly this is in the Mediterranean, so Tintin, the Captain and Snowy head off to Istanbul to claim the ship and get up to all manner of shenanigans there as a number of shady blokes connected with a red crocodile symbol are intent not only on getting the boat, but bumping off our heroes as well.
They manage to work out that there is some kind of treasure to be discovered, and the rest of the film is spent tracking it down through various perilous situations. The motley crew have to contend with double crossers and hidden clues, and while it's all a bit one note, with every setpiece much like the others in tone, it is amusing enough, with additions of comedy faithful to the source (although Haddock doesn't get drunk, he does put away a few Scotches). Even Snowy gets in on the act, helping in a chase by asking a friendly dog which way the quarry has headed, which makes up for his blunder later on when he sends his master on the trail of a barbecue - well, a dog's got to eat. The cast are the embodiments of their inspiration to a man (not many women in this), so there's always the attraction for fans of seeing how they were portrayed even if the story falls short of what the author would have come up with. Music by André Popp.