The 60s and 70s were decades full of film sub-genres. Blaxploitation, kung fu, spaghetti westerns and sword and sandal films can easily make up an entire library in their own right. When James Bond arrived on the scene in 1962, this opened up the floodgates for one of the most popular sub-genres, the Euro spy epics. We had James Coburn as Derek Flint and Dean Martin as Matt Helm. There was Agent 077 and an endless array of James Bond hopefuls. And then there was Argoman! Part James Bond, part Batman, the world may not have been ready for Argoman: The Fantastic Superman in 1967.
Our main character is Sir Reginald Hoover (Robert Browne, The Ten Gladiators, Hercules and the Princess of Troy), who comes across as a bit foppish like Bruce Wayne or Don Diego from Zorro. His alter ego is superhero Argoman, or is he a super thief? He possesses super strength along with telekinetic powers that can make the mentally weak succumb to his will. Of course, every superhero has an Achilles heel and his is lovemaking. After sex, he has no powers for 6 hours. Superman wishes he had that weakness. There is the evil arch villain Lady Jennebell who plans to rule the world using the world’s largest diamond. This diamond can create a laser that destroys the molecular cohesion of any object. Add in a swami sidekick/man Friday for Argoman and a few bumbling detectives along with the ever useless lineup of henchmen and you have the perfect recipe for a superhero parody…or is it a Euro spy parody?
Don’t spend too much time on the plot of this movie. It meanders all over the place, never quite realizing what genre it wants to stay in. It plods along at the usual slower pace that most European movies possess. That is either going to make it or break it for you. Personally, I have to be in the mood for a slower European flick but what really makes Argoman is the music and visual eye candy. The soundtrack is amazing, just dripping in swinging 60s goodness. For whatever this movie lacks in plot, it also makes up in great set pieces and fashion. Argoman’s pad is something you’d only expect to find in a 60s flick or maybe an Austin Powers spoof. They even add in a giant robot straight out of a 1940s chapter serial. Sure, there is dubbing and while I admit that dubbing sometimes annoys me, the dubbing in Argoman is quite good, at least compared to some other disasters I’ve watched over the years. And Argoman’s costume? It looks like it came straight out of a 60s Marvel comic book, part Cyclops (X-Men) and part DC Comics 70s era Sandman.
It should come as no surprise that Argoman didn’t generate a sequel. Actor Robert Browne did a great job but the mixed genres was probably enough to confuse audiences. Today’s B movie fans are always nostalgic for fun flicks like this from the past, so we often put on our rose colored glasses and enjoy them far more than the audiences did back in the day.
Argoman is currently available from Dorado Films, who are hoping to do a full restoration at some point. The print is actually pretty good overall and well worth adding it to your collection. It can be purchased at the Dorado Films site as well as streamed through their Roku or Flipps sites. In some circles, Argoman is better known as The Incredible Paris Incident. That title actually holds more promise of a straight forward Euro spy flick than what we actually received. Argoman is clearly not to be taken seriously. Go into it with a fun frame-of-mind and there’s no way you won’t walk away happy. Meanwhile, check out the trailer on YouTube and listen to Vince, Derek and the gang over at the B Movie Podcast, episode 280, for a great discussion. Then, top it all off with a great interview Derek conducted with Roger Browne on episode 75 of Monster Kid Radio!