Review: 'Le Magnifique' is Clever, Fun, and Truly Weird

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday June 8, 2021

I had never heard of "Le Magnifique" (a.k.a. "The Man from Acapulco"), so I put on the Blu-ray with little enthusiasm even though it stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jacqueline Bisset.

I was immediately laughing like a hyena. The silly slapstick comedy spoof, released in 1973, seemed to be ribbing the James Bond franchise as well as pulp fiction books with its suave, debonaire, and ridiculously brave hero, Bob Saint-Clair (Belmondo) with gun in one hand and comb in the other. I was also reminded of "The Pink Panther" series, the Matt Helm movies, "Austin Powers," "Naked Gun" and even Charlie Kaufman. Saint-Clair seems to be forever chasing the evil Karpof (Vittorio Caprioli) while romancing the beautiful Tatiana (Bisset).

There are tons of funny moments. I was laughing out loud at bits involving a cyanide pill, five interpreters, and one particular blood-soaked sequence.

About 20 minutes in, the film takes a narrative turn - one I did not see coming, but even if you do, just adds layers to the work and then doesn't let up. I will not give away the shift; since it's best not knowing, suffice to say the parody grows spider legs.

(Apparently these types of satire films were a growing genre in France in the '60s into the '70s.)

Directed with expedience and great panache by Philippe de Broca ("Cartouche," "That Man from Rio"), "Le Magnifique" was written de Broca, Caprioli, and Jean-Paul Rappeneau (along with an uncredited but deeply felt Francis Veber).

French icon Belmondo is outstanding, and looks great in a bathing suit!

Bisset is charming; she was coming off Francois Truffaut's "Day for Night" and about to film Sidney Lumet's "Murder on the Orient Express."

I can even forgive the offensive gay moment near the end, since the overall meaning is the opposite of homophobic.

The Kino Blu-ray looks fantastic. It's a great transfer, and the film is presented in its original 1.66:1 widescreen format. The audio is fine. A warning: The Blu-ray is set to the dubbed-in-English version, with no subtitles. You could (and should) easily change this.

Special features include the trailer and an enjoyable audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell, and Nathaniel Thompson.

For a clever, fun, and truly weird (in the best sense) filmic spy parody, pick up "Le Magnifique." It's the kind of film no one would dare make today in these uber-sensitive cancel culture times.

Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Howard S. Berger,
  • Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Includes Both French and English Audio Tracks
  • Theatrical Trailer


    The "Le Magnifique" Blu-ray is available June 8, 2021.

    Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep. Frank is a recipient of a 2019 International Writers Retreat Residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assisi, Italy), a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, a 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and a 2015 NJ State Arts Council Fellowship Award. He is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW, FIG JAM, VATICAN FALLS) and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute