Thursday, 30 June 2016

panaManga Review #29 – 000: The Not-So Secret Agent (1967)

      The film 000: The Not-So Secret Agent is a Greek spy comedy and probably one of the first James Bond spoofs ever made. The original title of the movie is Βοήθεια! Ο Βέγγος φανερός πράκτωρ 000, which translates literally as Help! Vengos As Visible Agent 000, but I translated it into the above, since I found it more appropriate for this comedy. The famous Greek actor Thanasis Vengos stars in it, and the movie is quite legendary, but unfortunately, it is rather unknown outside of Greece, so I would like to introduce it to a wider audience. In my review, I will give a summary of the film, and tell a bit about the comedy and humor in it.

     The story begins with how times have changed, and so the professions have changed. One of these modern professions is agent or spy, and the audience is introduced to the “James Bond School for Applied Espionage” (my translation) located in Athens. The school actually resembles a boarding school, including a kindergarten where it is not allowed to smoke and gamble…
     After three months of theoretical training, the espionage students of the school now have to start with the practical training. They learn (or rather fail) karate; training in the cold chamber becomes a skiing trip; shooting training is rather like shooting at a state fair where you get some candy for every five shots that hit the target. The main character Athanasios Vovas, codename Thou Vou, is obviously making most of the mischief here.
     When the practical training is over, the future agents have to pass their final exam. It consists of three tests or missions. For every mission, each agent will receive a mark from 0-9, according to how good they have been, with 0 being the worst and 9 the best. At the end of the exam, they will have collected a three digit number, which will be their official code number.
     Thou Vou’s first mission is to observe a young lady. Her father believes that she’s seeing a man secretly, and he’s not very amused about it. At first Thou Vou disguises himself as a doctor who makes a house call while the father is pretending to be ill, so that he can be around the daughter. Later, he disguises as a Russian violin player in a restaurant, playing a nice tune to the young lady and her lover; too bad his playback isn’t working right… The couple escapes and Thou Vou follows them in a car chase. Unfortunately, he steals a car to do so and kidnaps the toddler who’s still in the car.
     He loses sight of the couple for some time, but he finds out a few things about the man the woman is seeing. He is a smuggler of electronic goods! But later it turns out that the young man is just preparing his household after the wedding… Of course, Thou Vou gets a 0.
     The second case Thou Vou has to solve is idea theft. A fashion designer complains that her designs are stolen constantly, and Thou Vou has to find out how the designs get stolen, and by whom. Thou Vou snoops around the designer’s atelier, watches a fashion show and befriends the designer’s pretty assistant. One day, the assistant asks if Thou Vou could bring some architect’s plans to the construction site of the house she and her husband want to build. Charmed by the young lady, Thou Vou helps her out, not noticing that he’s part of stealing the fashion designs… Again, he fails his mission and gets a 0.
     Thou Vou is determined to pass his exam, and he could still manage to do so if he gets 7 points in his last mission – then, he would have the number 007, like his idol James Bond. His teachers and the director don’t believe that he will solve the last case, but since they don’t want to have Thou Vou any longer in the school, they stage a mission. He is supposed to retrieve a secret paper that was hidden in a cake in a café. But even here, Thou Vou manages to mess things up: his search for the paper ends in a huge cake fight.
     In the end, Thou Vou receives the final exam mark 000. And while the other students receive their diplomas and their official code numbers during a ceremony, Thou Vou takes care of a special 000 – the toilets…

     000 – The Not-So Secret Agent has a mix of word and slapstick comedy. Many word puns occur that I cannot translate, and the sass game is very strong (“Thou Vou, this is your secret weapon, it has a knife, a fork and spoon.” – “Does it also have salt and pepper?”). The slapstick occurs mostly during the practical training and the first mission, but of course culminates in the cake fight. I myself liked the sass and the word puns more. Here you can watch the famous cake fight:

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