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Film / Fantômas

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No, that's not the Blue Man Group.

"Humanity. What a wonderful puppet show! How could I get bored of it?"

Fantômas is a French 1960s' film very loosely based on the novels of the same name. It turned the title character (a criminal and anarchist in the books) into a Blofeld-esque supervillain and spawned two sequels, Fantômas Unleashed and Fantômas Against Scotland Yard.

The first film sees Fantômas (played by Jean Marais and voiced by Raymond Pellegrin) being very angry at Fandor (also played by Jean Marais), a journalist who has written a fictive (and ridiculous) interview of him.

After bombing the editorial offices, he kidnaps Fandor, threatens to kill him, iron-brands him, and goes about ruining the journalist's reputation by committing a sensational theft wearing a Fandor mask. He also kidnaps Fandor's fiancée Hélène (Mylène Demongeot). Hot on the trail is buffoonish police commissioner Juve (Louis de Funès). Fantômas then starts committing robberies with a mask imitating Juve's face to get rid of him.


The Fantômas movies provides examples of:

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  • Berserk Button: Fantômas hates to be ridiculed in the public eye. Fandor will learn it the hard way.
  • Calling Card: Fantômas regularly leaves one behind. The first theft in the first movie has him buying priceless jewelry with a check under a fake name. The writings on the check erase themselves soon after he leaves the jeweler and all is left is Fantômas' actual signature.
  • Car Skiing: It happens when Fandor tries to control the car sabotaged by Lady Beltham.
  • Chase Scene: In the last part of the film, Fantômas is chased by Juve, Fandor and the police.
  • Clear My Name:
    • Inverted: Fantômas wants to be feared, not to be mocked/considered as a myth by the medias, so he commits thefts, drive-by shootings and bombing attacks.
    • Played straight by Fandor and Juve after Fantômas has impersonated them.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    Fantômas: I'm a very organized man.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Fantômas plans to use Fandor's brain (and later Juve's) to create a new kind of slave.
  • Dark Mistress: Lady Beltham.
  • Engineered Public Confession: When Fantômas explains that he will charm Hélène, Fandor discreetly makes a phone call to Lady Beltham, who can hear everything about Fantômas's plan to cheat on her. Consequently, Lady Beltham decides to release Fandor and Hélène.
  • Facial Composite Failure: After the casino attack, the police uses a light box over which a cop places transparencies with various pre-drawn facial features and the criminal ends being recognised as Juve. Inverted, because the facial composite is quite efficient, even if leads to arresting the wrong person because the actual criminal, Fantômas, used Latex Perfection to impersonate Juve.
  • Food Interrogation: This is Commissioner Juve's method for making perps sweat. He eats before one while denying him food. Fandor stays rather unfazed. Later, after Fantômas commits a crime while wearing Juve's face, the tables are turned. It is now Juve being interrogated, while his usual sidekick Bertrand is doing the eating.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Subverted. After Fantômas' consort learns that he's planning to replace her with Helene, she breaks her and Fandor out of captivity and provides them with a get-away car. Without brakes.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the end of the first film, when The End appears, Juve says: "This is not the end! We will meet again!"
  • Magic Brakes: Happens in the car given to Fandor and Hélène by Lady Beltham. Partly Justified, because Fandor says that the brakes and the gear box are sabotaged and because the car is in a mountain road.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Fantômas has a fully automatic organ in his lair in the first movie. As Fandor wakes up from his kidnapping in the lair, it starts to play an ominous piece to announce Fantômas' arrival. Fantômas also plays it manually at one point.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: At first, when Fandor wakes up in his flat, he thinks his vision of Fantômas was a dream. Then Hélène notices that he has a bump on his head, and he notices the "F" that Fantômas tattooed on his chest, so he realizes that it was not a dream.
  • Pet the Dog: When Fantômas interacts with Hélène, he behaves like a gentleman.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: As Fandor wakes up in Fantômas' lair, he gives a good beating to some mooks. When he punches Fantômas in the face and the torso, nothing happens.
  • The Scapegoat: Fandor and Juve in the first movie.
  • Scare Chord: Plays when Fandor is kidnapped in the first movie.
  • Slave Brand: On their first encounter, Fantômas brands Fandor with an "F" on the chest to remind him that "From now on, you belong to me."
  • Supervillain Lair: A French castle.
  • Train Escape: During the final Chase Scene, Fantômas jumps on a moving train, followed by Fandor and Juve. Fantômas then unhooks the wagons to escape from them.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Lady Beltham sabotages the brakes and the gear box of the car that she gives to Fandor and Hélène to escape.
  • Villainous Crush: Fantômas has one on Hélène.
  • Who's on First?: The interrogation scene between inspector Juve and Fandor:
    Juve: Speak up! So the article was a lie, wasn't it?
    Fandor: I told you already, it is.
    Juve: You say it's a lie, and now everyone says it's true!
    Fandor: Well, it is true.
    Juve: So what's true, that everyone says it's true?
    Fandor: No, but it's true that it's a lie.
    Juve: So it's true that it's a lie? But-I-Wait-Okay, let's say that you're not lying, then why did Fantômas kidnap you last night if it was a lie?
    Fandor: Well, for exactly the reason I was lying!
    Juve: He's lying! He's lying! He's lying! He's lying!
    Fandor: When exactly you claim that I lied? When I said that I lied, or I lied when I said—
    Juve: ENOUGH! Be quiet, be quiet!
  • Woman Scorned: After Fantômas abducts Fandor and his fiancée, he reveals to Fandor that he wanted to make her his concubine instead of his current one. Fandor stages an Engineered Public Confession, and she helps them escape prompting Fandor to mention this trope. She is still evil and savvy though, so she disabled the brakes on the car she provided them.

    Fantômas Unleashed 

    Fantômas Against Scotland Yard 
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Fantômas kills Lord Rashley, steals the diamonds and manages to escape once more.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Commissioner Juve and Bertrand are disguised like this.
  • Blackmail: Fantômas imposes a head tax on the richest men in the world, threatening to kill those who do not comply.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Fantômas impersonates Lord Rashley after murdering him.
  • Hunting "Accident": Lord Rashley's secretary plans to kill his boss during a hunting party. He does not know he is dead already and Fantômas impersonates him.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Fantômas adores doing this to Juve, especially in Fantômas Against Scotland Yard.
  • Man in a Kilt: The third and last film is set in Scotland. Louis de Funès obliged.
  • Mugging the Monster: Lord Rashley's secretary plans to kill his boss. He does not know he is dead already and Fantômas impersonates him.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: The French protagonists go to Scotland this time around.
  • Super Window Jump: At the end of the movie, Fandor jumps through a stained-glass ceiling for no particular reason.
  • Unexplained Recovery: A mook killed by one of Juve's cigars in Fantômas Unleashed is then seen alive in Fantômas Against Scotland Yard (same actor in the same role) without explanation.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Lord Rashley's wife has an affair with his (male) secretary.