The Man from Rio (1964) | I know


Steven Spielberg made Indiana Jones in part because he couldn’t get a Bond movie. He wanted to direct a slightly scrappy adventure full of exotic locations, beautiful women, admitted naivety, and even if he could do without the gadgets that 007 relies on, he simply wanted to make a big cinematic adventure. But he was never allowed to see Bond. And so Indiana Jones was born, a great tribute to the film and book adventurers, among whom was Belmond’s Adrien from The Man from Rio. Spielberg wrote to its director, Phillip de Broc, that he had seen the film nine times and loved it, and when you watch it (or remember it, because it used to be shown quite often on Czech television), you will see quite a few points of contact there.

Jean-Paul Belmondo and Phillipe de Broca joined forces two years before The Man from Rio for the swordsman Cartouche, in which the French superstar made sure her charm was perfect for adventure pictures. And if I had to describe The Man from Rio in one word, it would be “charming”. From the very first dialogues on the train, it is evident that the creators do not take themselves seriously at all and want to entertain the viewer. Even if life is at stake here and the first corpse is found a few minutes later, this adventure is closer to Indy than to Tintin in the comics. He was, after all, an admitted inspiration. Adrien is supposed to be a 100% hero, but at most he beats up someone and when he’s dying here, it’s because of the villains’ inattention or stupid coincidences. And it doesn’t matter at all, because de Brocco just has to watch how Belmondo cleverly infiltrates the airport by stealing a retired general, makes friends with a local kid in Rio (the inspiration for Kraťas is obvious here) or runs around the wild jungle or, conversely, super-modern Brazil.

Yes, sometimes there are shots, sometimes someone fights with someone, but the bet here is more on the charming charisma of Belmond, who is excellently seconded by the perfectly adorably annoying Françoise Dorléac, Catherine Deneuve’s sister, by the way. You will completely understand why her desperate boyfriend would rather leave her in the middle of the South American wilderness, but at the same time risk his life for her. The acting chemistry between the two is absolute.

In addition, The Man from Rio kicks from start to finish, and once you accept that it’s not Indy after all and that there won’t be as many explosions and adventures, it might be a little less narrative (it can really only bother you in the last finale), you’ll find that it all sucks. Attractive locations, exciting action scenes in which you climb skyscrapers under construction or over the streets of Rio, all mixed with charming humor and French style. The foundations, from which not only Spielberg later started, but on which practically all similar films about traveling to exotic places and searching for treasures are based, are obvious here. It’s just that the whole thing is a little more naive and, thanks to the central acting couple, somehow more “boyish”.

But that’s where the magic of the whole movie lies. In addition, De Broca and Belmondo paid tribute to the genre and did not make fun of it like ten years later in The Man from Acapulco, so comparing these two films is a bit unfair. The more famous and newer one draws from brak’s adventures. However, Man from Rio shows that this pair can play by the genre rules when they want to. And what “is more” to it, I would rather not deal with it. It’s not important.

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