March 27, 2016


Another busy week here at the Spy Vibe lair. It was a mad dash to get all of my art students ready for their annual exhibit before everyone left for a week-long experiential learning course and spring break. I spent weeks planning a trip with students to visit major literary sites in the UK. We were going to sty with host families in Stratford Upon Avon and soak in some Shakespeare, followed by London exhibits to study old faves such as Sherlock Holmes, Alice, and Dickens. Amazingly I got sick the day before our departure and another teacher went in my place. So sad to miss the adventure and getting through a virus is no fun, but I've been passing the last few days with Poirot mysteries and getting reacquainted with some of the 1960s classics that really walk the line between spy/espionage, crime, and science fiction. One film that brought a smile to my face once again was Fantastic Argoman. This Italian production was released in 1967 and drew heavily from the costumed hero/anti-hero traditions in Europe, which included Superargo, The Three Fantastic Supermen, and Diabolik. Argoman is one of those rich playboy types with a butler and modernist lair, who has the reputation of the rogue/thief, but works (sort of) on the side of the law to thwart other criminals. It seems Argoman always demands payment for his services, so he comes across as quite the mercenary, enjoying his own private collection of rare art and antiquities (like the Mono Lisa!). Argoman also uses his superpowers of suggestion and telekinesis to get women (yikes!), though he loses his powers for six hours after "being" with them. Despite this kind of cringeworthy attitude from the period, the old thriller conventions in the film are playful and fun and, as you can see from these graphics, the sets and costumes were steeped in the visual language of science fiction and cliffhanger serials. The set designers literally elevated the notion that the character is above- above the law, above normal men, a fantasy, a carefree bachelor- by suspending all of his furniture on ropes (the results are pretty silly). You can also see psychedelic elements creeping in with organic patterns replacing the Op-influence so prevalent between 1965-1967. Argoman's costume is nothing to write home about, but the femme fatale does get to don a green hat that resembles Cardin's 1966 Space helmet design. Music by movie maestro Piero Umiliani and costumes by Gaia Romanini (Operation Kid Brother, Special Mission Lady Chaplin). Below: German Lobby cards and French poster. Spy Vibers can read a great review of the movie at our sister site, Double O Section. If you enjoy costumed crime/sci-fi characters from the 1960s, check out They Call Me Superseven, a fun homage to the period by stuntman/writer/director Robert Griffith (also on DVD). Enjoy!

Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Sylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama ReviewDavid McCallum novelAndre Courreges R.I.P.Who's Talking on Spy VibeUFO Blu-rayAvengers Pop Art Interview, Fergus Fleming Interview, Avengers: Alan Hayes InterviewJaz Wiseman Interview, Diana Rigg BFI InterviewCasino Royale Interview: Mike RichardsonLost Diana Rigg InterviewHonor Blackman at 90UNCLE SchoolIan Fleming Memorial, Portmeirion PhotosDoctor Who ExhibitFarewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJohn Buss interview, Saint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore CalypsoCynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismTokyo Beat 1964Feraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E., Comics Week: Archie, Comics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy OlsenShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IRodney Marshall Avengers InterviewRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixCold War ArchiePlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Catsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

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