Diabolik (Italy/France 1967)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/7/06
Alternate Title: Danger: Diabolik (US Title)
Producer: Dino De Laurentis
Director: Mario Bava
Music: Ennio Morricone
Cast: John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell, Michel Piccoli, Adolfo Celi, Terry Thomas

Wow, the 1960's must have been a very, very strange time. This adaptation of the Italian comic book features handsome John Phillip Law as master thief Diabolik. Together with his girlfriend/sidekick Eva (Marisa Mell), they pull outrageous heists and drive the law enforcement agencies completely crazy. As a last ditch effort to catch Diabolik, Inspector Ginko (dignified Michel Piccoli) starts putting pressure on the underworld crime bosses to the point where they agree to help him find Diabolik. Crime boss Ralph Valmont (Adolfo Celi) manages to kidnap Eva, forcing Diabolik to fall into Ginko's trap. Through several absurd conventions, he manages to escape unharmed, and he and Eva pull off their next heist, which involves stealing a 20 ton gold ingot.

Firmly in the James Bond mould, the film has great production values, incredible sets, wonderful art direction, and well paced action sequences. It even features a "Thunderball" (1965) inspired underwater sequence. John Phillip Law does an excellent job as Diabolik, and his eyebrows and body language speak volumes. Marisa Mell is pretty and makes an excellent partner for Diabolik. Michel Piccoli is wonderful as the inspector who is always one step behind Diabolik, and Adolfo Celi is delightful as you would expect. The entire film is outrageous in every aspect, but at least everything is consistent in the world of Diabolik. My biggest complaint about the film would be that it doesn't ever seem to go anywhere. It's like a string of action sequences put together without any real purpose or resolution. The film also seems to overstay its welcome, and the final heist seems unnecessary. Still, it's enjoyable if you want to revisit that campy 1960's vibe.