Some of my fondest of memories as a child was sitting in the library and immersing myself into the Ligne Claire reality of George Remi's "The Adventures Of Tintin". They had such a timeless quality and vision about them, just like the period in which they were set. The colors were so vibrant and illustrations were clearly defined. Herge's Illustrations themselves defined a new standard of a comic 'universal language' that spoke more words than any bubble text that was added on. You knew who the bad guys, the good guys and the stereotypes were. You knew when characters were nervous, angry, happy, confident, stupid, clumsy and surprised. You even knew when they were sweating! The attention to emotion and narration was brilliant. While reading his albums (24 in total) I felt like I was in a movie. The characters were all strange, mysterious, suspicious and one dimensional except for the protagonist (Tintin) and the world was as simple as black and white/good and evil. The stories were always bizarre but world weary and highly adventurous at the same time. I couldn't stop reading them. Not once was I aware I was reading a comic book. The pace builds momentum and doesn't stop. Herge's greatest gift was his ability to effortlessly make a transition in mood and tone. His illustrations evoke shades of Film-Noir when they're serious, 'Charlie Chaplin' absurdity when they're comical and a 'Sherlock Holmes/Arsene Lupin' mystery inspired approach in their narrative. It is the combination of these three key genres that made Tintin and all the films, books and comics it inspired so special. One of the earliest of these was perhaps the greatest of these, "L'Homme de Rio" ("That Man From Rio"), a Jean Paul Belmondo vehicle hugely influenced by Herge's "The Broken Ear" with subtle footnotes to "The Calculus Affair", "The Seven Crystal Balls" and "The Secret Of The Unicorn".
When I came upon "That Man From Rio", I was searching the world over for adventure films. Actually, my obsession all began with Indiana Jones. I wanted to find films that inspired the trilogy. I knew that Indy was a homage a kudos to all the adventure serials, film-noirs, pulp fiction novels and adventure comics of the 1930s, 40s and 50s (one of them was obviously Tintin). I came upon many. It is said that "The Secret Of The Incas" starring Charlton Heston was Indy's blueprint, but although the film did possess all that which inspired the look and character of Indy, it didn't quite inspire the feel and ambiance of it. Indiana Jones had that vintage high adventure atmosphere to it that I instantly recognized in Herge's bibliography the same charm, comedy, mystery, suspense, pace and thirst for adventure. These were all qualities that ignited the child in all of us. But surely, due to Tintin's international acclaim and success (a franchise that sold over 200 million copies and translated into 60 languages) there must have been at least one film that captured it's narrative style between its very conception in the late 30s and the creation of Indiana Jones in the 80s. For 50 years in between there must have been somebody who loved Tintin as much as I and decided to do something about it. I came to the harrowing conclusion that nobody in America, up until the likes of Steven Spielberg had ever made a movie in the footsteps of Herge. Either it didn't reach a wide enough audience in America or Hollywood was too embroiled in the Cold War to be concerned with a good old fashioned adventure. So I looked to France and Belgium, where for almost 70 years (and at least 4 generations) later Tintin has stood the test of time and is as popular, inspiring and loved TODAY as it ever was. I was reminded of something I always knew that the French have always been the romantics and the lovers of adventure and mystery. The novels by Jules Verne, Maurice Leblanc and Alexander Dumas, The diaries, documentaries and books by marine explorer Jacques Costeau, The suspense master works of Henri Georges Clouzot AND The enduring comic book creations of E.P. Jacobs, Albert Uderzo and Herge have fascinated generations of nations all around the world to this very day. It is in this way that I found out about this beautiful film called "That Man From Rio". I don't want to even spoil an action scene let alone a plot point, because everything about this film is kinetic energy. It never stops. The action is larger than life. The story is larger than life. The romance is every man's fantasy. To even whisper it's similarity to Tintin would be blasphemous, but you will recognize them as the film takes you for a ride and it will put a smile on your face. 'Jean Paul Belmondo' is and was (especially in his prime) France's most enduring and popular actor and it doesn't surprise me why. His ability for comedy and action has inspired actors such as Jackie Chan in their careers. He's always jumping, running, falling, riding, racing, shooting, punching, kicking, yelling, laughing and clinging for his life and no film better utilizes his gift than this one. The scenario he is put in will remind you of Hitchcock's North By Northwest as he travels the world in pursuit of a girl he loves dearly. From start to finish you are on a roller-coaster, hearing the sounds and seeing the sights. It's fantastic and truly a perfectly crafted vintage adventure film. If there was a mediator between Herge's Tintin and Spielberg's Indiana Jones, look no further than Philippe de Broca's "That Man From Rio". Its fluid ability to manipulate its audience with suspense, drama, comedy and action is brilliant. You will never see anything coming! If you are similar to me in that you love your adventure film, find this film right now and watch it.