The Three Fantastic Supermen (1967)
Film review # 528
Director: Gianfranco Parolini
SYNOPSIS: FBI agent Brad hires two “supermen” who fight crime in their bullet-proof suits. The three of them join forces to become the “three fantastic supermen,” to investigate an evil plot concerning counterfeit money and bad guys turning people into precious jewels…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: The Three Fantastic Supermen is a 1967 film. The film opens up with FBI agent Brad testing two superhero crimefighters, Tony and Nick, to see if they are up to joining forces. The two pass the test, and the three work together to investigate a counterfeit money ring and an evil scheme. The film is very much one of the many, many comedy spy films that parody the likes of James Bond-style films, and were especially in abundance in Italy at the time. It also has this superhero element too, with the characters dressing in skin-tight spandex and capes that serve as “bullet-proof suits.” The plot of the film is pretty standard for a spy film parody, but it at least has direction and some twists, with the somewhat uneasy alliance between the FBI and the two vigilante heroes leading to some conflict between them. The main aspect of the film is the comedy though, so everything is done in a silly, slapstick way. Any sense of peril is faced by Tony’s cheeky smile, and Nick’s expressive facial expressions and motion (accentuated by the fact he is mute). Things get even more silly when a machine that turns people into precious jewels gets introduced, as well as the machine eventually being able to clone people, but it also gets a bit sinister, when a class of schoolkids are kidnapped and nearly killed (the cloning machine works properly on children, but not adults apparently). Regardless, it’s a standard bit of comedy and parody, with plenty of scantily-clad women and chauvinism to appeal to its young male target audience.
The three main characters, Tony, Brad and Nick are different enough to make them distinguishable and interesting: as mentioned, Brad is the straight-laced FBI agent who has an uneasy alliance with the other two, although this typically ends with them playing practical jokes on him as he tries to get their secrets from them. Tony is the suave cheeky chap who laughs off any threats, and Nick as the expressive mute gives the scenes a different kind of energy. The supporting cast is a fairly typical bunch, with the evil criminal mastermind, the scientist, and his attractive daughter who serves as the love interest, so it’s unremarkable, but it has the staples of the films it is attempting to parody. The three “fantastic supermen” are also played by trained acrobats, so they can pull off some good stunts and performances, which again give the scenes a unique energy and appeal. There’s also plenty of props and variety in the scenes to make it feel busy and engaging, so while it’s a bit low budget and all over the place, it is still entertaining, although the music consisting of one of about three pieces of music played every other minute does get annoying quite fast. Overall though, The Three Fantastic Supermen is a very typical spy comedy of the time, with the added superhero element adding in a bit of a twist, and the acrobatics giving the stunts a bit more energy. It’s nothing too special or memorable, but it was apparently successful enough to warrant a number of sequels, which we will have to look at at some point…