Andrew Jessel (Tony Randall) thinks he's in Morocco on business, but he's actually hopping off the bus to Marrakesh and into a heap of trouble. The first sign he's in over his head comes the moment he opens his hotel closet and discovers a dead body, one which is promptly claimed by the beautiful Kyra Stanovy (Senta Berger), who sees that she has Andrew's bags and figures the rooms were mixed up. Kyra knows the victim, and claims the killers were trying to pin the murder on her, but the reasons as to how and why keep changing by the minute. Before long, Andrew finds himself chased by ruthless henchmen (including Klaus Kinski) of Mr. Casimir (Herbert Lom), a man expecting a $2 million business deal to go down the moment he can get Kyra and Andrew out of his way. The two make a break for it across the desert, all while Andrew juggles Kyra's various alibis.
People like to say, "oh, it's just meant to be fun, stop overthinking things" when it comes to films with plot holes or leaps in logic, but what they're really saying is because they had fun, the film's sloppiness should be excused -- the sloppiness is a flaw, but should be overlooked. Bang! Bang! You're Dead! (presented in the film without the exclamation marks, and also known as Our Man in Marrakesh) is a perfect example of where a few minor plot holes can be forgiven, because it's all in the spirit of the kind of film Bang! Bang! is. It's a fundamentally silly adventure about a hapless dope who gets to play James Bond for a few days just by being in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time, and the few times the film does something slightly inexplicable or unbelievable, it's intentional, in the spirit of the whole picture. It's not a deep movie, nor a must-see, but it's definitely a brisk and amusing romp.
Considering the plot is just a clothesline for the characters' adventures, and the characters are mostly personality, most of what director Don Sharp and writer Harry Alan Towers (using the pseudonym Peter Welbeck) put across is tone. When the dead body falls out of Andrew's closet, it's not horrifying, especially not after Kyra barges in and suggests it's her fiance without her cheery attitude seeming to suffer at all. It doesn't take much for her to convince Andrew to help her cart the corpse out of the building and dump it somewhere; when they arrive at a safe spot, he gets out of the car to find the arm of the corpse dangling out of the trunk. Whoops! It's a film for which the word "shenanigans" was invented, some of which include crucial mixed-up briefcases, the body's untimely return to the closet, and a surprise twist that had me scratching my head at first, only to pay off later in one of the film's most pleasurable lapses in logic.
Other than tone, the film is supported by the chemistry shared by Randall and Berger, which works -- it strikes me as unusual that the leading man would be the floundering, flabbergasted one, while she would be so cool and collected. Randall not only plays naive, but finds the appeal in it, making Berger's attraction to his simple nature more than believable. They have a good sense of timing and rhythm together; a scene of them talking to one another across their hotel balcony is both warm and witty. In terms of the villains, the film naturally comes up a little shorter, given none of them develop into a real threat. As Kinski's role is mostly about looking intimidating, Lom feels more wasted as Casimir, relegated mainly to relaying exposition about his devious plot, although there's an amusing running gag about his beautiful girlfriend Samia (Margaret Lee) undercutting his attempts to be the ruthless businessman. (Keep an eye out for Lom's Pink Panther co-star Burt Kwouk in an extremely brief role.)
As this is a spy spoof, there's a reasonable amount of action, and it is decently staged. Kinski and a band of other cronies chase Randall and Berger across the city in a couple of suspenseful sequences, followed by a brief car chase in the mountains, and there are a few moments near the end where it's hard to tell exactly how everything's going to shake out (possibly more to do with murky plotting than intentional misdirection). The big conclusion is chaotic and possibly a bit rushed in the movie's final moments, but it's in keeping with everything else. The very definition of fun fluff, but, fun first, fluff second.
Bang Bang, You're Dead is one of the Olive titles with original poster artwork that does a pretty good job of capturing the "James Bond spoof" vibe of the picture, although it'd be nice if Senta Berger wasn't presented the same way as Casimir's bubbly blonde girlfriend. The single-disc release comes in a standard Viva Elite Blu-Ray case -- finally, they've ditched the cheap, boxy cases! -- and there is an insert advertising other Olive Films Blu-Rays.
The Video and Audio
What with grain-scrubbing and revisionist color timing on so many Blu-Rays, it's easy to forget how blessed we are overall when it comes to transfers of older films. This 1.85:1 1080p AVC transfer of Bang Bang, You're Dead will serve as a reminder...by coming up wanting. The print used to create this master is very soft, possibly a lightly used release print, judging from all the nicks and scratches that appear. The image is very soft, with little in the way of fine detail outside of close-ups. Colors appear a bit washed out, with skin often looking pale, and chromatic distortion can sometimes be seen on the edges between light and dark areas (like a gray suit in front of a shadowy background). The layer over the image fluctuates between looking like film grain and looking more noisy, sometimes within the span of a few seconds. Nobody is likely to mistake this image for standard definition, and a number of shots near the end of the movie look much better than the ones at the beginning, but this is a flawed transfer that likely makes do with the best that was available. Sound is a DTS-HD Mono audio track that sounds all right, but flattens out on the high and low ends, and has the distinct haziness of an old movie, which occasionally makes some of the quieter dialogue hard to understand. Unfortunately, no subtitles or captions are provided.
Although the PQ and AQ aren't quite as good as other 1960s films making their Blu-Ray debuts these days, I have no doubt it's the best the film's looked and sounded on home video. Bang! Bang! You're Dead! is utterly inessential, but it does what it sets out to do quite well. Recommended for fans of classic spy movies looking for a laugh.
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