Bob Morane Week concludes with the character's appearances on-screen. Created in 1953 by Henri Vernes, Bob Morane became a popular hero in the European youth market. As we've seen this week, the scope of his adventures was quite vast, running the gamut from spies and master criminals to Pulp-styled themes like jungle action, Sci-Fi, and rampaging dinosaurs. Although the franchise mirrored James Bond (created in the same year), the character appeared in the movies only once. Released under a title that could have belonged to any Eurospy yarn, The Spy with the Hundred Faces was released in January, 1961 in Brussels. Jacques Santi (The Aeronauts) was cast in the starring role. A few promotional materials and a book tie-in remain, but the movie itself is reported to have been lost. More below.
Fans had to wait until 1965 to see their hero again, this time in a television series called Bob Morane. Produced at the height of the spy boom, the program made its debut on March 28, 1965, and starred Claude Titre as Morane, and American actor Billy Kearns (Mission to Tokyo, Killer Spy, Playtime, Jason King, Philip Marlow: Private Eye), as his Secret Service chum, Bill Ballantine. Twenty-six black-and-white episodes were produced. The stories, each 26 minutes long, featured "the adventures of Bob Morane, the man with forty aerial victories, journalist, engineer, expert in the use of weapons and martial arts, fighting, oftentimes with the help of his great friend, Bill Ballantine, a chilvarous defense of victims confronting dictatorships, dangerous megalomaniacs, and secret societies throughout the world." Sounds like many of my favorite Richard Sala books! At least two DVD box sets are available, which contain episodes and a 1-hour documentary about the author/creator, The Adventures of Bob Morane: Henri Vernes. See video clip and photo stills below!
Bob Morane appeared again on the small screen in an animated series in 1998. Canal + produced twenty-six episodes, with great titles like Terror Commandos, Return of the Yellow Shadow, Puppets of the Yellow Shadow, and Operation Wolf. The format appeared to finally provide a venue for the more way-out and pulp-styled Morane plots, as we can deduce from titles like The Dinosaur Hunters andSolar System Sentinels. The cartoon was pitched as "Bob Morane. International man of action and intrigue. Traveling to exotic locales in search of adventure. A true citizen of the world, he will traverse time and space to face danger and battle evil." Check out the stylish title sequence below. Spy Vibe's Bob Morane series: Intro, Comics, Toys, Pilote Magazine, Records, Screen. Thanks for joining us in our exploration of Bob Morane this week! And thanks to the many Spy Vibers around the world who contacted me with comments, support, and tales of their own enthusiasm for French action hero, Bob Morane. Enjoy!
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