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Film / Fantômas

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

Fantômas is a 1964 French action/comedy film rather loosely based off the novels of the same name. The characters were In Name Only compared to the novels, the film had more in common with the Spy Fiction craze of The '60s than anything else, and it turned the title character (a criminal and anarchist in the books) into a Blofeld-esque supervillain. Two sequels were made, Fantômas Unleashed in 1965 and Fantômas Against Scotland Yard in 1967. André Hunebelle directed the whole trilogy.

Elusive supercriminal Fantômas (played by Jean Marais and voiced by Raymond Pellegrin) is very angry at Fandor (also played by Jean Marais), a Parisian journalist who has written a fictional (and ridiculous) interview of him. After bombing Fandor's 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), so Fantômas starts committing robberies with a mask imitating Juve's face to get rid of him.

In the sequel, Fantômas Unleashed (Fantômas se déchaîne), Fantômas kidnaps several scientists to conceive devices for his nefarious plans, and Fandor, Hélène and Juve go after him in Southern Italy.

In the third film, Fantômas Against Scotland Yard (Fantômas contre Scotland Yard), Fantômas ransoms several billionaires, threatening to kill them if they don't oblige to his "tax on the right to live". Juve and Fandor step up to protect one of these billionaires, the Scottish Lord Mac Rashley, and use him as bait to try catching Fantômas.

The Fantômas movies provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

  • Adaptational Comic Relief: Commissioner Juve was never buffoonish in the original novels, unlike how Louis de Funès portrays him.
  • Antagonist Title: The films are named after the antagonist, Fantômas.
  • Bumbling Sidekick:
    • Commissioner Juve for Fandor, most of the time.
    • Inspector Michel Bertrand, for Commissioner Juve.
  • Character Catchphrase: Every time Fantômas manages to escape:
    Juve: I'll catch you , Fantômas, I'LL CATCH YOU!!
  • The Chessmaster: Fantômas is more often than once one step ahead of the heroes.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Fantômas always has multiple contingency plans.
    Fantômas: I'm a very organized man.
  • Da Chief: Commissioner Juve is a gruff and authoritarian boss who is constantly shouting orders at his subordinates. For bonus points, he sometimes smoke a cigar and wears suspenders.
  • Creepy Monotone: Fantômas almost always speaks the same monotonous way, with the deep voice of Raymond Pellegrin.
  • Determinator: Commissioner Juve. It doesn't matter how many obstacles Fantômas throws at him; he stays in hot pursuit whatever the cost, sometimes at great risk to himself, and comes very close to catching the evil mastermind several times.
    Juve: I'll catch you, Fantômas, I'll catch you!
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Fantômas always concocts diabolical plans.
  • Da Editor: Fandor's boss, played by Robert Dalban.
  • Evil Genius: Fantômas seems to have some degree of expertise in plenty of fields that have practical applications to commit his crimes, at least when he doesn't need to kidnap scientists.
  • Evil Laugh: Fantômas does at least one per film, at the end usually. Not really hammy but still sinister.
  • Evil Plan: Fantômas is always planning something evil.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Fantômas was voiced by Raymond Pellegrin, whose voice was notably deeper than Jean Marais'.
  • Expressive Mask: Fantômas' masked face can be expressive (at least as expressive a practical rubber mask can possibly get).
  • The Faceless: Fantômas is always seen wearing an intimidating bluish latex mask.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Fantômas is always very polite even when he explains you that he plans to remove your brain from your body to create a new kind of slave.
  • Foil: Juve to Fantômas. Both are leader of large group of men (Juve is Da Chief and Fantômas is the Diabolical Mastermind) and both are skilled with gadgets and disguises (Juve to a lesser extent but still visible in Fantômas Unleashed).
  • Gentleman Thief: Fantômas is a supercriminal, and he's Wicked Cultured.
  • The Hero: Fandor fits the bill, although he starts off as a liar when Going for the Big Scoop.
  • In Name Only: Fantômas, Fandor, Juve and some others did appear in the original novels, but as completely different characters.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Fandor is a reporter, and he's perfectly capable of punching his way through Fantômas' mooks.
  • Karma Houdini: No matter what the heroes try, Fantômas will always manage to escape.
  • Latex Perfection:
    • Fantômas' masks when he wants to impersonate someone. This also includes gloves reproducing fingerprints. In the first film, both Jean Marais's and Louis de Funés's facial features are slightly exaggerated (larger eyebrows or ears) when Fantômas impersonates them. Played straight in later movies.
    • In Fantômas Unleashed, Fandor also uses a perfect disguise.
  • Leitmotif: Both Fantômas and Juve have their own. Fantômas uses the ominous main theme of the movies. Juve has a much more comedic one. Used to great effect during chase scenes by alternating the two.
  • Lighter and Softer: When compared to the books and Silent Films.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Fantômas always wears a blue rubber mask and always concocts evil plans.
  • Master of Disguise: Fantômas' disguises can fool anyone.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Hélène, Fandor's fiancée, played by Mylène Demongeot.
  • Phantom Thief: Fantômas, naturally.
  • Say My Name: Many a character will dramatically exclaim "Fantômas!" when confronted with the villain. Commissioner Juve's yells have reached memetic status.
  • Setting Update: The story of the books and silent films takes place in the Belle Epoque (pre-World War I France). This version adjusts to its decade, The '60s.
  • Soft Glass: Fantômas or Fandor have no trouble jumping through windows.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The series is fondly remembered partly because Louis de Funès starred in. His role got increasingly important screentime as the series went on, and his face was always featured prominently on the French posters while they seldom showed the masked face of Fantômas.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Commissioner Juve. More like "sympathetic inspector protagonist", actually.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Fantômas always manages to escape.
  • Wicked Cultured: Fantômas has a chateau-like lair in the first film with the expected chateau owner interiors (medieval tapestries and all), and he plays the pipe organ quite well.


  • Berserk Button: Fantômas hates to be ridiculed in the public eye. Fandor will learn it the hard way.
  • Big Entrance: When Fandor wakes up in the lair of Fantômas, Fantômas makes his very theatrical entrance by arriving ominously through a secret elevator door (through which his shadow can be seen first) with the pipe organ blaring a grandiose and ominous tune.
  • Breakfast in Bed: Juve spills the breakfast tray on himself when he's in bed as detective Michel Bertrand storms in his room. It's an unusual example, as Juve being single means he served said breakfast in bed to himself.
  • 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.
  • 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. As Fandor wakes up from his kidnapping in the lair, it starts to play a grandiose and ominous piece to accompany 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 the mooks surrounding him. But when he punches Fantômas in the face and stomach, Fantômas doesn't even budge.
  • 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 suppose 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 when I lied that 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, Lady Beltham. Fandor stages an Engineered Public Confession allowing Beltham to spy on the conversation, and she helps them escape prompting Fandor to mention this trope. She is still evil and savvy though, as she disabled the brakes on the car she provided them.

    Fantômas Unleashed

  • Animated Credits Opening: The animated opening sums up the events of the previous movie.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: Da Editor is ranting at Fandor for his latest paper about Fantômas, saying he can already hear Juve screaming... just as Hélène starts the TV, where commissioner Juve is giving an angry interview.
  • Batman Gambit: Fantômas releases Hélène and tells her not to tell anything about her kidnapping. Then he sends her an invitation to a Masquerade Ball and a Pimped-Out Dress. He plans she will either tell Fandor and Juve or be followed by them, so that he can kidnap them at the Masquerade Ball.
  • Bound and Gagged: Juve and his interviewer end up bound and gagged on live television after Fantômas interrupts to take over the broadcasting.
  • Da Chief: The police prefect chews out Juve for being humiliated on live television by Fantômas.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Commissioner Juve. His role might be purely comedic most of the time, but he guns down several Mooks and gets to save all the protagonists from captivity thanks to his gadgets.
  • Damsel in Distress: Zig-zagged. Hélène is kidnapped by Fantômas, but he releases her almost immediately. After the Masquerade Ball, he kidnaps her again, but he kidnaps at the same time the male protagonists (Juve, Fandor and Bertrand), who are then in a far greater danger than Hélène. The male protagonists free themselves and rescue Hélène.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: When Juve and Michel Bertrand are disguised as Italian priests to watch over Fandor (who's disguised as Professor Lefèvre), a beautiful Italian woman dressed in red passes by and Bertrand can't help but staring a her, prompting Juve to order him to stop.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Fantômas takes over the TV transmission during an interview of Commissioner Juve. When it gets back to normal, Juve and his interviewer are Bound and Gagged.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Fantômas does not harm Hélène's younger brother.
  • Flying Car: A flying Citroën DS.
  • Follow That Car: Juve says "Follow that car!"... to a plane pilot, since they're pursuing Fantômas's Flying Car.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: In the second movie, Juve has devised a fake arms/hands which allows to have a concealed hand with a gun, as well as cigars which can shoot bullets when lighted [1]. Both of this gadgets are skillfully used by Juve when facing Fantômas' Goons.
  • Go Among Mad People: Juve is arrested by the Italian police and sent to an asylum.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Hélène wears an oriental Pimped-Out Dress when she is held captive by Fantômas. She wears it when she escapes.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Juve and Fandor steal the car of campers to chase after Fantômas in the final Chase Scene.
  • High-Class Glass: Juve's first disguise, as an Italian military officer, includes a monocle. He has some trouble with it, notably letting it fall in his teacup.
  • Hypno Ray: Fantômas abducts a number of scientists and has them construct a hypno ray gun. After the heroes thwart his plans and free the scientists, they use the gun to placate a pair of mooks he threw at them, but Fantômas himself escaped before they have a chance to subdue him.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Juve demonstrates the gun-cigars, everybody freaks out when they go off and we have this gem:
    Juve: Gentlemen, you are lacking calm and composure! I want a "relaxed" police! You hear me? RELAXED!
  • I Have Your Wife: Fantômas holds Hélène's brother prisoner so that she does not tell Fandor and Juve about her kidnapping and she goes to the masquerade ball.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Juve's one-shot cigar-guns.
  • Kidnapped Scientist: Fantômas does this in order to build a Mind-Control Device.
  • Knockout Gas: Mooks in diving gear come out of a fountain and takes out Juve, Fandor, Hélène and Bertrand by sedating them with gas weapons.
  • Last Request: Juve asks Fantômas' henchmen for a cigar as a last request. He also offer them cigars. They are actually cigar-guns.
  • Leg Cannon: Juve has a machine gun disguised as a peg leg as part of his pirate disguise during the Masquerade Ball.
  • Losing Your Head: Fantômas plans to test on Juve, Fandor and Bertrand an experiment aiming at allowing their heads to live separated from their bodies. That is, unless Hélène accepts to become his new lady friend.
  • Masquerade Ball: Fantômas organizes one and catches Hélène, Fandor, Juve and Bertrand.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Commissioner Juve's coat.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: While this is nothing new for De Funès, they are more believable in the second movie: he disguises as an Italian Officer, a train steward, a hotel bellhop, a priest and a pirate at the masquerade.
  • The Prankster: Michou, Hélène's younger brother, doesn't miss an opportunity to prank the adults.
  • Previously on…: The Animated Credits Opening doubles as this, shortly retelling the first movie.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: Fantômas threatens to remove the head of Fandor, Juve and Bertrand if Hélène does not agree to become his partner.
  • Seadog Peg Leg: Juve goes to the Masquerade Ball in a pirate costume, complete with eyepatch and peg leg — doubling as a machine gun.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first film is mostly about Fantômas committing several important thefts and showing to the public eye that he can be a real threat (and avenging the journalistic insult in the process). He uses mostly believable means such as his Master of Disguise talents, drive-by shootings, grenade and bombing attacks. The first sequel has him planning to Take Over the World from his Volcano Lair using a Mind-Control Device, with a goofier-than-ever commissioner Juve trying to stop him using James Bond-esque gadgets. And there's a Flying Car.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: The bulk of the story takes place in Italy (the first one was set in France).
  • Shout-Out:
    Juve: What would people think of you if Fantômas was caught by a vulgar 00-something? We are in an era of secret agents and gadgets!
  • Spy Fiction: Fantômas Unleashed spoofs the use of gadgets, extravagant villain plans and lairs from Sean Connery's James Bond era (and even predates those of You Only Live Twice).
  • Supervillain Lair: A Volcano Lair, with a Mad Scientist Laboratory and a control pannel to activate trap doors or Ominous Pipe Organ music.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Hélène's young brother and another kid disguise temselves as Fantômas this way.
  • Transforming Vehicle: As he's pursued by the good guys, Fantômas's Citroën DS engages on a runway and transforms into a Flying Car to escape them.
  • Villainous Crush: As in the first movie, Fantômas has one on Hélène.
  • Volcano Lair: Fantômas has a new lair below a volcano.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Juve's Italian ticket inspector disguise.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Fantômas does not harm Hélène's younger brother.

    Fantômas Against Scotland Yard

  • Accidental Ventriloquism: During an upper-class hunt gone wrong, Commissioner Juve ends up finding the horse used by the guest who's really Fantômas in disguise. When F's mooks try to ask him "What do we do now, go home?" over a radio in the saddle, Juve thinks it's the horse speaking.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Fantômas kills Lord Mac Rashley, steals the diamonds and manages to escape once more.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Commissioner Juve and Bertrand are disguised like this.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Fantômas impersonates Lord Rashley after murdering him.
  • Fakeout Escape: At the end, Fantômas escapes in a rocket that was hidden in one of the castle's towers and takes off. Juve immediately calls the French air force, a squadron is dispatched and destroys the rocket with a missile. Except it was a bait. Fantômas wasn't in the rocket, he simply escaped using the castle's secret underground passages and a bicycle while everyone's attention was focused on the rocket.
  • 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. The supervillain proves a much harder target than expected, and ends up throwing him off a cliff.
  • Murphy's Bed: In Lord Rashley's castle, Commissioner Juve's bed is rigged to move on wheels, pursuing Inspector Bertrand throughout the bedroom before dragging both men into a secret passage and all the way down to Fantômas' lair, where the villain makes them an offer they can't refuse.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Fantômas imposes a head tax on the richest men in the world, threatening to kill those who do not comply.
  • Pillow Pistol: Juve keeps a gun under his pillow — probably not always, only when on this mission as he is Properly Paranoid. Then the gun's suddenly missing!
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Juve incorrectly assumes that Fantômas is disguised as Lord Rashley when he is in reality just Gaslighting him, but he is right when Fantômas really impersonate Rashley. Even more ironic, the "dead" Rashley was the real Fantômas while the "alive" Rashley is the real one.
    Juve: [in a Bedsheet Ghost disguise] Now I got it, I understand everything now! It's you!
    Lord Rashley: I beg your pardon?
    Juve: You are Fantômas! You put the mask of Lord Mac Rashley, gimme your mask! GIMME YOUR MASK!
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: The French protagonists go to Scotland this time around.
  • Spooky Séance: During one, the guests of Lord Rashley try to communicate with Walter Brown, a victim of Fantômas. Juve is scared to death.
  • 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.