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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

THE RAVISHING IDIOT


THE RAVISHING IDIOT
It's spy-tacular! Here comes Brigitte Bardot as the wildest secret agent who ever dropped the Iron Curtain on her foot! She's got concealed weapons Mata Hari never dreamed of!

Directed by Édouard Molinaro, with music composed by 
Michel Legrand, 1964's The Ravishing Idiot (Une Ravissante Idiote) is a French spysploitation film starring Brigitte Bardot as the beautiful, but simple-minded Penelope Lightfeather. Molinaro would go on to direct a series of well regarded noir films in the classic French style, a genre far more suited to his somber strengths than this attempt at light, frothy comedy.

The bumbling but charming Harry Compton (Anthony Perkins) has lost his position in London banking. Desperate for another job, he foolishly agrees to become a Soviet agent. His first mission is to steal the top secret Avalanche file, filled with British military orders, from Sir Dumfrey, the head of British Intelligence. Employed by Sir Dumfrey as his wife's private dressmaker, Penelope's innocence makes her a prime target for Harry's not so devious machinations as he attempts to carry out his mission.

With the best of innocent intentions, the naive Penny is enmeshed in Harry's plans, but one slapstick blunder leads to another, eventually alerting MI6 to their activities. Hilarity ensues...Well not really. The film is a schizophrenic mashup, half French bedroom farce and half ill conceived James Bond spoof, with a script even more dimwitted than its charming leads.

The Ravishing Idiot started life as a novel by Charles Exbrayat, which won the prestigious Grand Prix du Roman d'Adventures French literary award. The tag line on the paperback movie tie-in edition published by Popular Library states, Spies are a cold breed...but not Agent 0038-24-36A thriller about a spy who'd make James Bond blush. Hidden in this unsubtle promo line is a spoiler giving away the book and film's final twist.

A SPOILER ALERT is probably not necessary as nobody is going to rush out to find a badly dubbed VHS copy of The Ravishing Idiot or read the now obscure book. However, consider yourself warned...The secret plans, of course, are fakes designed to be stolen in order to mislead the Soviet spy hierarchy, but because Bardot is so suited to her ditzy role, it does come as a surprise in the last few minutes of the film when se is revealed as an actually competent British agent.

Overall, The Ravishing Idiot is a poorly conceived, poorly executed exercise in exploitive film making, worth watching only for the presence of Bardot in the ripe prime of her womanhood.

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