In thesixties European filmmakers jumped on the "superhero bandwagon" created by the Batmania in the United States.Italian/Spanish co-productions resulted in films such as the European incursion to the luchahero genre SUPERARGO VS DIABOLICUS,SUPERARGO VS THE FACELESS GIANTS,and GOLDFACE THE FANTASTIC SUPERMAN,plus more conventional superhero films such as THE THREE FANTASTIC SUPERMEN and FLASHMAN.And then there was ARGOMAN,a superhero farce high on comedy and low on superhero action.
The film opens with Scotland Yard investigating the theft of the Crown Jewels stolen from the Tower of London.[If I were the police,I'd search in the underpants area.Badabing!]Inspector Lawrence calls in "unofficial" advisor
criminologist Sir Reginald Van Hoover for information.Unknown to Lawrence is that Reginald is a "collector" of special trophies like the Mona Lisa,which he appropiates with his metaphysical powers.Lawrence assumes the theft the work of Argoman,Reginald's secret alter ego[why is it that only rich farts can have secret alter egos?!?]but Reginald informs him that Argoman was "executed in China" but Lawrence remains adament on pinning it on Aroman without any real evidence to support this.After this phone call Reginald is in the mood for nooky,even though his butler Chandra warns him after each shag session he loses his powers for six hours.[I'm curious,is it six hours regardless if it's a quickie?]
Reginald detects a hovercraft approaching his private island and uses his telekinesis to pull it in.The ship's pilot is a beautiful redhead Regina Sullivan,who was the one who pulled off the crown caper.Back in Scotland Yard Lawrence receives a package containing the crown and a note from the culprit "Jenabelle,Queen of the World"[And Liberace was Queen of Las Vegas.I'm on fire tonight!]claiming her real target is the Mordoff A4,a large diamond created by the heat of an atomic explosion.Back on the island Reginald challenges Regina/Jenabelle to an archery contest,if she wins she gets to leave,if he wins they smack some skin.He wins.After their intercourse Regina again shoots off an arrow,hitting her target dead center.Lawrence pops in as Reginald is receiving a visit from another of his female "companions" Samantha
[He has a secret alter ego and more than one girlfriend.This isn't right.He should spread the wealth.Or at least the girls.]Lawrence finally admits Argoman is innocent of the Crown Jewl theft[though by the looks of it,he sure doesn't need them since he packs his own!]and the culprit is the unknown Jenabelle.Lawrence shows pictures taken form the security cameras at Tower of London and Reginald spots
Regina in the pictures.Someone is feeling a tad on the stupid side right about now!Lawrence heads to Paris,where the Mordoff A4 is kept, to
meet with Inspector Martiner and plan on protecting
the diamond.The belief is that if the diamond were stolen it would cause a crash in the diamond market.However it also has the ability to deflect light onto any object and destroy it's molecular cohesion,which is why Regina wants the diamond for.Reginald,Samantha and Chandra arrive in Paris to prevent Jesabelle fromgetting the diamond.Since she smoked one of Reginald's radioactive cigarettes[double cancer whammy!]he can track her with his geiger counter
wristwatch.Jenabelle and her gang hit the Bank of France and loot the vault.Reginald has Samantha distract one of the baddies loading one of the getaway trucks by parading around in her undies.[Can you imagine Superman doing this?"O.k. Lois,the only way I can defeat Lex Luthor is if you disrobe down to your birthday suit!"Actually,I'd buy that issue.]Reginald sneaks aboard and hitches a ride in hopes of finding Jesabelle's lair,but gets caught by her goons and they start waling on him.Luckily the six hour time period is up and Argoaman gets medieval on the thugs.
Reginald pays a visit to Lawrence and Martiner,who celebrate that Jenabelle failed to act on her threat[even though she looted the bank!Some cops!].Reginald warns she's just getting started as a Cessna drops money from the bank onto the Paris streets.Jenabelle sends a message to the authorities claiming that if the Mordorff isn't handed over to her she'll use three hundred million franks she made off with to pass banknotes and cause a serious inflation problem.[A villain who steals money to extort people with it?!?That's like buying a gun to give to your would be assasin!]Reginald is appointed to make contact with her
by showing up at the dropoff point on a bus.Jenabelle's agents make contact with him while Jenabelle views on a monitor.The agent threatens to blow up the bus but Reginald uses his powers to pull a car in front of the bus,taking the agent by surprise.He forces the agent to take her to Jenabelle,
and she admits she knows his identity and wants Argoman
as her consort.Since Reginald has not yet returned the cops decide to hand over the mordoff to Jenabelle![Well,this is France!]Back at Jenabelle's lair Reginald switches to Argoman but before he can get his hands on Jenabelle she shows him a monitor showing Samantha tied up and threatened by a robot.If he steps off the platform he's standing on it will send a signal activating the robot to kill her.Jenabelle leaves and Argoman levitates a statue and places it on the platform.Finding the room he shoots the robot and frees Samantha.Meanwhile Jenabelle has received the diamond[after killing the men guarding it] and puts her plan in motion to create automatons resembling high level political/military world leaders so she can rule the world.Argoman visits the French Minister of Interior,but he's already an automaton and pulls a gun on the maskedman.Argoman tries to yank the gun out of his hands but the clone jumps out the window.Argoman tries to break his fall but Lawrence,Martiner,and the police walk in,breaking his concentration and the automaton plunges to the streets.Argoman escapes,and later as Reginald with Samantha and Chandra stakes out a party attended by various movers and shakers.Reginald uses his geiger counter to reveal which miltiary and political honchos are already automatons.Just then the lights go out and shots are heard.When they come back on General Haywood,head of the American nuclear forces in Europe,has disappeared and the automatons are motionless on the floor.Argoman makes a brief appearance but winds up having to fight off the cops.Reginald gives the cops the slip by leaving Paris on a train riding third class.However one of Jenabelle's agents kills the conductor and lets the train run wildly.Argoman uses his telekinesis to switch tracks and avoid a train collision.Jenabelle
is starting the process of making her Haywood automaton
when Argoman busts into her hideout and begins knocking her henchmen around.Argoman gets threatened by a gun toting Jenabelle but uses his telekinesis to fling a knife at her.Grabbing the gun he faces another
Jenabelle armed with a flamethrower who he shoots dead.Argoman deducs the obvious,she's made automatons of herself.Lawrence,Martiner and the police show up and try to arrest Argoman but a rescued Haywood explains everything.Jenabelle takes off in her cesna but Argoman snares it in his telekinesis.The mordorff begins to reflect sunlight and explodes,taking the airplane and Jenabelle with it.After the cops thank Argoman for the help Argoman steals a police motorcycle and rides off.Back in London Lawrence calls Reginald to report the Crown Jewels stolen again.Reginald isn't too worried,since he only plans to keep them for a little while.
ARGOMAN has some inspiration in the BATMAN mythos,the hero is a playboy millionaire and has a butler aide de camp.However that is about all the similarities that exist.Argoman actually has superpowers,or more accurately,mental powers,such as telekenisis.Although I've never heard of the mental power of punching people through the roofs of trucks,which Argoman does in one scene.I don't think the Amazing Kreskin ever did that trick.Argoman is also a thief,stealing[temporarily]priceless treasures like the Mona Lisa,and he is wanted by the law.The story never makes clear why he pulls these thefts off
except because he can.And with inept cops trying to stop him he obviously can get away with it.Aroman's wardrobe leaves alot to be desired.It looks like the costume department thought that long underwear and a ski mask were enough for a superhero outfit!He also carries a pistol but where he keeps it is beyond me.[Actually I do havbe an idea but I would rather not think about it!]
The film's story is perhaps more complicated than what it should be.The theft of the crown is only a warning and serves no real purpose to the story,except to bring Reginald into the story.The plot device of needing a diamond to make her robots maleable enough to pass is humans is unneccesary,as it could have easily been established that she already had this technology.Jenabelle is alot like the villains of the BATMAN t.v. show,pulling off smaller capers before her major crime,which is really wasting time.The story also requires too much dialogue to explain what is going on,while the action scenes too brief.Redneck film
critic Joe Bob Briggs used to say "Too much plot is getting in the way of the movie" and that phrase certainly applies here.The film would've been best served if the movie began with Jenabelle/Regina already having her automatons,rather than wasting time with her stealing things she didn't even need.Argoman spends too much time in his guise asSr. Reginald Hoover,amateur criminologist.Even though he has no official status the incompetent police have absolutely no qualms about bringing him onboard an extremely sensitive case.ould it be if things went wrong the cops would use him as conveniant scapegoat?In fact the police in this film make Roscoe and Enus from THE DUKES OF HAZARD look like STARSKY AND HUTCH.They would rather pin everything on Argoman than do any real investigating.And after a few measly threats they give in too easily to Jenabelle's demands.It's a wonder some BOND villain hasn't already taken over the country.Then again the film takes place in France,so the filmmakers[who were mostly from Italy]may have wanted to make a point about how the French easilly rolled over in World War Two.
Thankfully the film is relatively short,only about seventy minutes long.This helps keep the plot moving at a decent pace.Too many Mexican movies would have opted to drag out the running time with stock footage of whatever city the story takes place in.There are some stock footage shots of London and Paris,but thankfully they are brief.Argoman is not meant as a serious superhero film,so one should be able to sit back and chuckle.If it was indeed a very good spoof.It is not.The comedy revolves around the unfunny antics of inept police,and even when they have Argoman at a four to one disadvantage,he escapes.One can only hope real policemen aren't so stupid.There are some unintended chuckles which are a result of a low budget.The most obvious being the cheesy robot so slow a one legged turtle could outrun it.The final fracass in Jenabelle's lab hints at the type of film this could've and should've been.If only they tried a little harder.Simply put,this isn't the best superhero film ever made.One star.*However if you enjoy films that are fun in a dumb,stupid sort of way,you might enjoy it.
Cat:Roger Browne[Argoman/Reginald]Dominique Boschero [Regina/Jenabelle]Eduardo Fajardo[Chandra]Nadia Marlowa [Samantha]Dick Palmer[Inspector Lawrence]Richard Peters.
This film is known by a few titles.THE INCREDIBLE PARIS INCIDENT,ARGOMAN THE FANTASTIC SUPERMAN,or simply ARGOMAN.The "FANTASTIC SUPERMAN" tag was also used with Goldface and of course The Three Fantastic Supermen series of films.I guess the Italians liked to beat an idea to death.To the best of my knowledge this film was never given any theatrical release in the U.S. It did appear on television sporadically,mainly local UHF stations with little in the means of programming material.However in the mid eighties the advent of the infomercial made UHF stations realize there was more money in these commercials disguised as tv shows than in dubbed foreign cheaply made films few people bothered to watch.So Argoman,along with many other films,disappeared from tv and remained virtually forgotten by most people.However a few fanzines still remembered this flick and by the nineties the video underground had surfaced various copies of this film.As of yet there hasn't been any "official" video release but most likely the film is considered public domain,and with the release of SUPERARGO VS DIABOLICUS on dvd companies specializing in "cult" films may choose to release this film as well.