I remember loving Fantomas as a kid (I'm French): as a premise for a film franchise, it was simply perfect.

You've got a criminal mastermind known only as Fantomas who goes around stealing jewels, diamonds, the usual while wearing a multitude of silly disguises and Mission Impossible-style masks and making a fool out of Louis De Funes' grumpy cop.Think The Pink Panther meets the Mission Impossible TV series meets a French De Funes farce. It's so crazy that it works beautifully.

The genius of it is that you're not really rooting for the bad guy to get caught at all, you want to see him get away especially when his getaway plans are always so out there. His main motivation seems to be a mix of kleptomania and sadism: he is one charming evil bastard.

Fantomas is played by iconic French actor Jean Marais, mostly known for Orphee and other Jean Cocteau classics, and he gets to show-off in some imrpessive stunts, wear silly moustaches and that famous Fantomas face which I never really understood whether it was meant to be his real face (is he from another planet?) or yet another mask. Either way he's great. Louis De Funes is also at his best here and gets to use his familiar grouchy/manic persona to full effect.

The film spawned a couple of sequels, neither of which managed to match this first instalment's energy and sense of fun. As it stands, Fantomas is a fun movie which should appeal to non-French audiences as well as those familiar with the franchise.

Think of it as a long episode of Inspector Gadget but with French people and minus the gadgets.

I love it.

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