FENOMENAL & THE
TREASURE OF TUTANKAMEN
(1968)



Howdy folkses! Today's film moche du jour features three of our four core values here at Million Monkey Theater: it's a bad movie with bad acting and a bad plot. We'll supply the bad cats. It's part caper flick, part Eurospy thriller, part costumed superhero romp and pretty much all crap.

Fenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen is an Italian production set in sunny France, where the wine is dry, the cheese is soft and the snails are at best mistrustful. It features a cast of d-list Italians and smug American expats pretending to be French and British con men, police operatives and aristocrats. Tres internationale, non? It was brought to my attention by the celebrated Parisian dancer, cabaret artiste and amateur consulting detective La Tinque, who recalled it from her youth and thought perhaps it would suit our crappy movie needs. Which of course it does, tres admirablement.

Mlle. La Tinque has been assisting our very own P.I. Tizwin in his ongoing pursuit of former Intern Kelby and his unknown accomplice who stole MMT's corporate funds and swear jar money back in September. Kelby seems intent on openly taunting us these days, sending snarky emails and hastily-scrawled reviews whenever he stops anywhere long enough to get drunk or meet a few strippers, but the joke's on him now because we know it's his mystery accomplice who actually has the money.

La Tinque discovered that the accomplice, dubbed individual-1 by European authorities, had been hiding at a safehouse somewhere in Paris. Tizwin made his first contact with her on January 3rd near the Pyramide de Louvre where she had just done an interpretive mime based on Claude Debussy's "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair." Le Monde was effusive in its praise for her performance, claiming she'd "vibrantly and fearlessly reinvented French mime for the modern world."


As if that's a good thing.

Some of her revelations to Tizwin were downright explosive, and despite many unanswered questions I am finally feeling optimistic that this investigation may soon be drawing to a positive conclusion. Let's take a look at what M. Tizwin and Mlle. La Tinque discussed that night, shall we?







Ah, le jeune amour. It looks as though Tizwin's going to be in Paris for quite some time, no? Pretty shocking stuff from La Tinque, though. How about the thing with the accomplice being a cat? Boy-howdy we didn't see that one coming, did we? What do you think she meant by "follow the herbes le chats?" Google says that's crazy French talk for catnip!

Speaking of catnip, Intern Sparky, in his official capacity as CEO and President of Catnip Club for Cats has decided to immediately halt distribution of his top-selling brand, a genetically modified product known as "Meowie Zowie." As I mentioned in a previous review there had been some anecdotal reports of aberrant, violent and even criminal behavior amongst cats who'd used it which Sparky had initially been reticent to believe, but a report from the DEA changed his mind.


The evidence was overwhelming.

It's a massive financial hardship for him and the whole debacle has left him feeling anxious, depressed and more than a little guilty for promoting what turned out to be such a dangerous substance.


It's enough to make him cry in his tequila.

I wanted to do something to cheer him up so I asked him if he'd like to join me in watching Fenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen and maybe even help me write the review. He agreed on the condition that I supplied the booze.

"Hey everybody. Sparky here. Where's the tequila?"

"I thought maybe since the movie takes place in France we should have some absinthe instead."

"Absinthe? Like in Moulin Rouge? Sure, I can dig it. Speaking of Moulin Rouge did I ever tell you..."

"Are you gonna talk about when you got hammered in Melbourne and ended up face-mashing with Nicole Kidman again? Because I've already heard that story like three hundred times...which is about three hundred too many."

"She dug me."

"So I've heard."

"She said I was adorable."

"I'm sure she did."

"She had a tongue like a tuna steak."

"Okay, buddy...we're done now."

"Alright, fine. Start the movie and pour that absinthe. Shit ain't gonna drink itself."

Okay, here we go! Our movie opens on a run-down old smuggling boat where some gruff sailors are faced with a bit of a conundrum. They're supposed to be heading out to sea with their hold full of contraband, but for some reason they've doubled back and are heading for the very port from which they'd disembarked. It's as if the vessel has a mind of its own.


"Well blow me down!"

The captain and one of his men go back to check on the pilot and when they look down a portal they see him passed out down in the hold. Suddenly they look up to see...


Fenomenal!

That's our hero right there, people, dressed in black jeans and a black turtleneck with what looks like a black knit sock pulled over his head. It's like something a five year-old would come up with. It doesn't even have any eye-holes because Fenomenal apparently doesn't need to be able to see to know there's a crime happening.

He laughs painfully, like he has hernia but has to pretend there's nothing wrong because he has no health insurance and can't afford a doctor's visit, but despite this ailment he leaps down from the cabin roof and proceeds to kick some gruff smuggler ass.

Once he's vanquished them all he ties them up in a fishing net, except that one poor bastard he punched out, knocked overboard and left to drown...because fuck that guy. He steers the vessel towards the docks then leaps into the water, letting the boat drift into port without anyone at the helm.


Hey buddy, you know boats don't just stop on their own, right?

We cut to a newsstand where a town crier is shouting "Wextra! Wextra! Read all about it! Fenomenal foils drug ring!" Yes, he repeatedly pronounces "extra" as if it's spelled with a "w." As I mentioned earlier the dubbing is atrocious, and you really should learn to trust me about these things.

"Speaking of trust, dude, I trusted you to pour me a drink. What's taking so long with that Absinth? I'm parched over here."

"It's just about ready now, Sparky. It takes time to pour absinthe. You have to let it drip slowly over a lump of sugar, which dissolves into the liquid as the glass fills up."

"Why can't you just pour it like normal booze, stir some sugar in and drink it right away?

"Because it's French."

"That figures. Hand it over."

*Slurrrrp!*

"What do you think?"

"It tastes like licorice-infused piss. Get me some tequila."

"Okay, fine...but you have to keep watching and write some of the review while I'm gone."

Alrighty, this should be easy-peasy! Just describe what's happening and make a few jokes, right? Roll the opening credits, be-yatch!


That King Tut mask is totally made of fiberglass.

So the credits list a mess of fruity Italians I've never heard of plus Gordon Mitchell, an American bodybuilder who made a whole bunch of shitty movies in Europe. Pretty much a fuck-ton of b-movie has-beens nobody remembers or cares about today. They're probably all dead now anyway.

We're in Paris now. A fancy clock strikes four and some shifty-looking dudes in different places around the city all check their watches, jump into their cars and drive around for what seems like three hours. There are two little gray Euro-sporty-looking things, a little red whatsit and a yellow VW bug just like Ted Bundy drove. You can see Bundy's car in a museum in Tennessee, by the way, if you're into that sort of thing.


You can even climb in and pretend to be Bundy and one of his victims like these two insensitive assholes.

They drive and drive and drive some more, all over Paris, I suppose to try to impress on the audience how most of the movie takes place in France even though they probably only spent maybe three or four days shooting there. Finally the cars all reach the Eiffel Tower, because if you're shooting in Paris and you don't show the Eiffel Tower you're required by French law to pay a hefty fine.

They park around a manhole cover, which they lift so a few of them can go down into the sewers with big gas cylinders and a torch. The remaining goons drive off leaving the rest of their buddies down in the hole.


It's a dirty job...and a dirty hole...but these are dirty men.

Back on the surface some stinky Frenchie on a bicycle with a basket of bread on the front [Editor Bradley: Director Ruggero Deodato in a brief cameo.] rides over the manhole and crashes because the shifty dudes left it open.


"Sacre bleu! Mon baguettes!"

So these braniacs who are obviously trying to pull some sort of shifty, secret caper make the effort to park around the manhole so no one could see them going into it but can't be arsed to put the cover back on before they leave? Brilliant.

A policeman directing traffic comes running across the street to see what's going on. He heads down the manhole and yells a few times into the tunnel to see if there's anyone working there, but when no one answers him he goes back up and scurries off leaving the manhole open. He heads across the street and finds a phone booth


Remember these things? I don't. I'm a cat. I'm only nine years old.

Instead of calling in a report to the station the policeman calls up a granite-jawed thug with a token blonde girlfriend and a Labrador retriever. This is Gordon Mitchell, and he is one ugly motherfucker.


He looks like a proboscis monkey they dressed up like a people.

Gordon laughs and tells the policeman to keep an eye on the guys down in the sewer...which might be kind of difficult because they're down in a fucking sewer.

When Gordon hangs up the phone he tells his token blonde girlfriend that "the dress rehearsal is going as planned." She abruptly and enthusiastically tells him "you're wonderful," which seems like a weird response pasted in from an entirely different conversation, but what do I know? Maybe he is wonderful. Looks can be decieving.

Back in the tunnels the sewer crew reaches the spot they've been looking for. One of the goons says they have to cut through a metal plate to get where they're going, but they also have to wait for the sluice on the other side of it to drain. So they set up the torch and wait...and check their watches...and we wait...and we check our watches...and we're ten minutes into this thing and I'm bored out of my freaking mind. Still, I promised I'd watch it, so I guess I'm stuck.


The bars are a metaphor for the how trapped we in the audience feel.

"Here's your tequila, Sparky. I got the three-gallon jug. It was on sale."

"Jesus, are all the movies this bad? This shit is painful."

"Some of them are even worse."

"I thought this was some kind of cushy job you had here but when you actually have to sit down and watch one of these things...it's barbaric!"

"Just drink your booze and try not to think about it. That's what I always do."

"Alright. You gotta take over for awhile, though. I've gotta get really smashed to get through the rest of this."

So where'd we leave off? Ah, yes. The old "waiting in the sewer for the sluice to drain" routine. That old cliche.

So we now cut to an establishing shot of a fancy building, outside of which is a sign with a picture of the fiberglass Tut mask we saw during the credits. Inside we meet the greasy, dough-faced proprietor of what turns out to be a prestigious museum where the "priceless national treasure" is about to be displayed in a special exhibit the Egyptian government is already regretting having agreed to.


This is a man who enjoys his sausages.

Doughface is explaining all of this to Guy Norton, a Count and wealthy playboy who personally negotiated the loan of the mask. He tells Doughface he's going to a dinner meeting with Inspector Beauvais, a police detective who'll be charge of security for the exhibit, and Doughface says he has a few final security details to see to himself.


"Guy Norton" sounds like a name for a game show host.

Norton is played by a justifiably forgotten Italian b-movie producer named Mauro Parenti. He's got about all the screen presence and charisma of soggy toast. Apparently no one would give him a role in a proper movie so he scraped up a few lira and developed Fenomenal as a starring vehicle for himself.

One of the central mysteries of Fenomenal and the Treasure of Tutenkamen, aside from why anyone thought it was a good idea to make it in the first place, is the secret identity of our titular hero...or at least that's what the filmmakers intended. From the very first instant we see Norton on-screen he just screams "Franco-Italian Pseudo-Batman." He's got most of the tropes but none of the chops: He's an insufferable, smarmy playboy with an allegedly suave, unflappable demeanor, he's a wealthy civic leader with connections to the local police, and he drops insipid one-liners like they're burning a hole in his tongue. He's even got a butler named Alfred. When we finally get the big reveal in the last five minutes it's practically a slap in the face, especially because of the ludicrous manner in which the filmmakers chose to divulge it.

"Wait a minute...you've already watched this?"

"Yeah, Sparks. I watched it about a week ago."

"And you're watching it again?"

"Yep. Sometimes I have to watch 'em three or four times."

"Damn, dude! I always thought you were a wuss, but you're a goddamned iron man! Have another drink on me!"

"On you? I bought it!"

"Shut up and drink it before I change my mind."

So back at the museum a guard is joking around, bowing to the Tut mask, chanting "Salaam! Salaam!" even though "salaam" is Arabic and ancient Egyptians spoke Coptic, but what's the difference, right? All those swarthy Middle-Eastern folks are basically the same.


Cultural insensitivity is always good for a few LOL's.

He and another guard lock up the gallery and turn on the alarm, a procedure that requires four stages of cutting edge, high-tech security protocols:


Step 1: Flip sneaky hidden switch on the back of an antique clock to set the auxiliary alarm.


Step 2: Call night watchman George via a secret transmitter behind a tapestry in the vestibule.


Step 3: Tell George to wake the fuck up and get off his fat ass.


Step 4: Have George switch on the main control circuit so he can go back to sleep.

Voila! The fiberglass Tut mask is now safe as milk...or is it?

The head of the sewer crew checks his watch again and says it's time to cut through the steel plate and get moving on their sneaky caper. He says the sluice gets flooded every hour so they have to hurry. Does anybody know if that's how sewers work? After watching George stretch and yawn in his little security office I'm too tired to look it up.

One of the big dirty men sets up his big dirty torch and goes right at it, making a nice, big, hot hole, and.... Sorry. I thought I was writing a letter to "Penthouse Forum" there for a moment.


"I never thought these stories were true until this totally real sex thing happened to me..."

So the dirty men of the sewer crew slip through into the empty sluice and scurry down a tunnel, stopping beneath a grate in the courtyard of the museum. They've got a portable periscope with a little hole at the center of the lens and a cannister of compressed gas that fires a dart from it. They push it up through the grate and wait for a guard to walk by.


I'll admit that thing's pretty cool.

The hapless guard walks past the grate and they let loose with the dart. He grabs at his lower back and falls to the ground unconscious.


No way did they hit the guard's back from that angle, but the shrub is gonna be asleep for a week.

Two of the sewer goons are suddenly inside the building now because apparently none of the exterior doors were locked? Or maybe they took some keys from the guy they knocked out? It would have taken about a half a second of screen time to show them grabbing the keys off the guy's belt to clarify this, but clearly these people aren't concerned with little things like sense and continuity.

As the burglars sneak around a corner we see the two security guys who set the alarm, and the joker who bowed to the mask tells the other guy how happy he is to have a nice quiet place to work. "At my last job we used to have two break-ins a night!" he says, "One week I got knocked out three times!"


That explains a lot.

The would-be thieves go into the vestibule outside of the room with the fiberglass Tut mask, give a sneaky side-eye to the tapestry and start laughing loudly and conspicuously to draw the attention of the dimwit guards, who come frantically running in only to get black-jacked into oblivion.


Looks like concussion number four.

So the head thief guy turns off the auxiliary alarm then switches on the transmitter so George can get an earful of his hearty, infectious laughter. George asks what's going on, but getting only more laughter in response he decides to leave his secure station to investigate...without alerting anyone else or taking any other precautions. As soon as he's got the door halfway open thief number two clobbers him.


At least he's getting his nap.

So thief number two shuts off the main control circuit and we cut to a guard walking around outside. He hears more of the raucous laughter but just shrugs his shoulders and smiles.


"Aww, let zem have zeir fun! It eez not like we are being robbed!

So our thieves go into the Tut mask chamber, ready to secure their prize, but as soon as they step onto a circle surrounding the pedestal an alarm sounds and a bunch of red and green lights start flashing.


It's like a music video for "Disco Inferno."

The would-be thieves try to grab the mask and run but they get a nasty electric shock and end up supine on the gallery floor.

We cut to Doughface flipping a switch on the wall in an adjacent chamber which shuts off the alarm. A couple of security guards come running in with guns drawn but Doughface, Norton and Police Inspector Beauvais walk in and wave them off. It seems the "thieves" are actually police operatives hand picked by Beauvais, who authorized them to endanger cyclists, destroy civic infrastructure, break into a private building and physically assault civilian security guards just to find out how hard it would be to steal the mask. It doesn't seem like a safe, prudent or legal plan to me, but what do I know? I'm not French.

We've only just met Beuvais in person, of course although Norton had name-dropped him earlier. Now we also meet M. Gresaunee, Doughface's secretary, who comes running in because he heard the alarm from inside his apartment which is conveniently located right across the street from the museum. He might as well have "criminal mole" tattooed on his forehead, so I'm calling him Monsieur Mole.


"Nothing to see here, boss...just a dedicated employee doing his job."

Beauvais congratulates himself on the successful test of the security arrangements, but Norton plays devil's advocate, asking if he believes he can outwit actual determined thieves with a greater motivation than a few plainsclothes men have working for Police Union wages. Beauvais is confident his floor alarm and shock zone is sufficient to prevent a theft, and Doughface agrees--so long as no one else knows how the security system works.

We cut to the policeman from the Eiffel Tower running into a shop to borrow their phone. He calls up Gordon Mitchell again to tell him what happened at the museum, but why this lowly beat cop assigned to an entirely different area of a huge, sprawling metropolitan area should immediately know anything about a secret operation that just took place in a building across town is not explained.

"Hey Sparky! Wake up you drunken sot! You said you were gonna help me out here!"


Looks like Sparky is down for the count. I guess I'm on my own now.0

Now there's another ludicrously long "driving around Paris to groovy 60's lounge music" sequence, this time with Norton at the wheel. It's the same grey sportscar we saw one of the sewer crew guys get into and park next to the manhole under the Eiffel Tower, and in fact that very same car shows up at least three more times, with someone else driving it at each fresh appearance. I'm guessing it belonged to Mauro Parenti himself, who used it to save some rental money.

We cut to a bunch of wealthy big-wigs attending a reception to kick off the fiberglass Tut mask exhibition. Doughface tells Beauvais that the cream of society are there, so obviously they're all above reproach, but Beauvais points out a few infamous thieves and pickpockets who've managed to slip in and mingle with the crowd. He lingers on Gordon Mitchell, whom he identifies as Gregory Falco, a confidence man whom the police know is dirty but who they've never been able to definitively charge with a crime.

If I were Doughface I'd be just about shitting my pantaloons at this point, having placed my livelihood and reputation in the hands of a guy who can neither keep known criminals out of exclusive, invitation-only events nor gather enough evidence to secure any convictions against them. Beauvais is pretty smug for a guy who so clearly sucks at his job.

Norton enters the room and the press goes wild, shoving microphones in his insufferable mug and shouting over each other to get their questions heard. When asked how he persuaded the Egyptian government to loan the museum the mask he replies "by winning a chess game."


Boom! That's how you do diplomacy biatch!

Remember that woman in white, by the way. We'll be seeing her again soon.

Norton answers a few more questions then goes over to open the exhibition by ceremonially pulling a French flag off the Tut mask. Then a sweet little girl who sounds like she was dubbed by a 50-year old prostitute makes a little speech, hands him some flowers and gives him a peck on the cheek.


"That'll be fifty francs, monsieur...and no kissing on the mouth."

A pasty blonde goth chick in a black veil comes over and deliberately steps on Norton's foot. She tells him she did it on purpose because "It's good luck," then offers the worst pick up line I've ever heard outside of an S & M establishment:


"When a relationship is based on pain it always works out well."

She introduces herself as "Mike Shevlove, the only daughter of Homer Shevlove the canned meat king." That is one weird fucking personal introduction and an even weirder name. Mike is a little odd, but not unheard of, but Shevlove? What the hell is that? Also, is "canned meat" supposed to be some sort of euphemism? I don't know exactly what just happened here but I'm feeling the need for a safe word.

Norton quite sensibly finds a polite and discreet excuse to get himself away from Ms. Shevlove and her meat and she pouts seductively to herself as she stares at fiberglass Tut. Gordon Mitchell sees her standing there alone, and being a guy who qould clearly love a relationship based on pain he swoops in to offer her a drink.


It's hurting me just looking at him.

After the reception M. Mole is in Doughface's office, playing French tonsil hockey with the lady reporter with the white hat. They barely miss being caught by the boss as he enters from the gallery. Mole introduces her as Mlle. Guillaume "from the Express" and claims he was "giving her some information on the exhibition" which he had apparently conveniently written on his penis.

Doughface sends Mole out to mail some letters and asks Mlle. Guillaume to have a seat while he puts a few documents in his safe. She bends down as if to light a cigarette, but the lighter is actually a sneaky spy camera, and she takes pictures of each number as Doughface dials the combination.


How convenient that he should have to open the safe at just this particular moment...


...and how polite of him to stand to one side, giving her a clear view of the dial.

Maybe I'm being too picky here, but every time she flicks the shutter on that thing she jerks it about half an inch. I don't see how she could possibly get any clear shots if she can't hold the damned thing steady, but what do I know? Maybe it's got some kind of high-tech gyroscopic stabilizer. Then again maybe this movie is full of shit.

There's a brief scene now that's missing from the American cut of the movie and should have been removed from the European cut as well. It's perhaps a day or so after the reception and the exhibit is now apparently open to the public. As a bunch of art lovers and curiosity seekers ogle at the various artifacts in the Tut room Gordon's token blonde girlfriend drops a smoke bomb into one of the vases and a shady-looking guy we haven't seen before tosses a bocce ball onto the base of the platform holding the mask, setting off the alarm. Everyone skeedaddles from the gallery in a panic and we jump cut to Doughface and Beauvais standing in the vestibule gazing ruefully at the burnt out husk of the fancy clock with the auxiliary switch on it.

There's a tense conversation in the museum office now between Norton and Doughface, and although it's all in Italian the gist of it is that Doughface is going to make a duplicate of the mask to put on display so he can keep the real mask in his safe. The Mole is there, too, doing his damndest to look as suspicious as humanly possible.


"Don't mind me, monsieurs. Pretend I am not even here."

Later we see Mlle. Guillaume walking across the lawn of Gordon Mitchell's estate to where he's lounging in a deck chair. Meanwhile his criminal minions are kicking around a soccer ball like a couple of 12-year-olds daydreaming of one day winning the World Cup.


Never mock those wacky Europeans' ludicrous obsession with the mind-numbingly dull sport of soccer, and certainly don't ever call it soccer, either.

Mlle. G. gives Gordon the photos of the museum safe now, which is completely nonsensical. If their intention all along has been to steal the mask from the gallery they would have had no reason to get that combination in the first place. Doughface's plan to use a fake mask wasn't even concocted until later, so it's either an unbelievable stroke of luck for them that suddenly everything has completely changed and they just happen to be in possession of a formerly worthless piece of information that's now become the key to successfully pulling off the dream heist they've been planning for God knows how long. Was the Token Girlfriend's smoke bomb routine not merely a diversion to destroy the alarm clock but a clever ruse to inspire Doughface to make a duplicate mask and keep the original in the safe? Because that's not even pretzel logic, that's spaghetti logic.

Gordon explains that they're going to use an old tunnel they happen to know about that that runs under the museum and directly into the basement of the place. This is not the sewer we saw earlier, by the way. It's another completely unguarded secret subterranean entrance, of which thrre are apparently many.

Suddenly we see that M. Mole has been invited to the garden party at Gordon's place, too and he assures everyone that the steel gate at the museum end of the tunnel will be unlocked when they arrive. Like the revelation about Fenomenal's identity later on I'm certain having Mole in cahoots with the criminals was meant as a surprise, but if you've got two active brain cells and have seen a movie before it was not a surprise.

Speaking of Fenomenal we now see him climbing up the outside of the museum building, ostensibly to secrete himself somewhere inside and foil the expected heist.


You remember him, right? The guy with the sock on his head we saw once about forty minutes ago?

Gordon, meanwhile is on a boat on the Seine with one of his goons. They're both wearing diving suits and heading for the tunnel that runs under the museum.


He's like a shriveled peach with raisins for eyes.

Gordon and his pal both swim through the tunnel and enter the museum, but when they get there only Gordon goes in. He slithers up a swanky spiral stairwell, avoiding the lazy, ineffectual guards and strolls into Doughface's office, which seems to have three different entrances to it besides the one from the gallery, presumably all unlocked. The layout of the place is very confusing and the editing does nothing to make it any less obtuse.

Fenomenal has gotten there ahead of time, of course and watches as best he can in the dark through a black knit sock-mask with no eye holes. Gordon opens the safe and finds the mask.


This reminds of a nightmare I once had after eating too much vichyssoise.

Gordon places the mask in a big velvet sack then closes the safe, puts some plastic explosives on it and leaves.

Fenomenal does absolutely nothing to stop him. He doesn't leap out and confront him, doesn't raise the alarm, doesn't remove the explosives, he just sits and watches him discreetly then quietly leaves the office through another door once the pilferage is complete. We see Gordon make his way back to the tunnel, hand down the mask to his minion and escape.

We hear an explosion and a couple of security guards come running to the vestibule outside the gallery. They have to stop to turn off the alarm on the back of the fully restored antique clock, call George via the transmitter behind the tapestry, get him off his lazy ass and have him switch off the main power circuit so they can enter the gallery, and when they finally get through all that they're shocked to see that the mask hasn't even been touched.

Somehow the idiot guard with the multiple brain injuries sets off the proximity alarm around the mask platform despite being nowhere near it and the lights start flashing and everybody gets up and starts shaking their moneymakers like they ass on fire.


Sorry, I was thinking of Disco Godfather (1979).

The next day Doughface has to deal with the fallout from the theft while Norton, whom you'll recall arranged the whole exhibit and secured the loan of the mask from the Egyptian government in the first place skips out on him to host a swanky cocktail party at his palatial estate. Who should stroll in and up to Norton but creepy S & M/canned meat enthusiast Mike Shevlove, along with a wheelchair-bound professor named Micklewitz and a lumpy, middle-aged British nobleman named Lord Baxter.

It seems Baxter is an archaeologist with a keen interest in Egyptology and Micklewitz is an authority on ancient artifacts who's just written a book on Tutenkamen. As for Mike, she's just kind of there, ostensibly "assisting" the professor in some way, if you know what I mean. I thought perhaps this might be some more "Penthouse Forum" material, but we later learn that Micklewitz' daughter sent her along to make sure he stays off the bottle.


Micklewitz, looking gaunt and on the verge of delirium tremens.


Baxter, looking paunchy and on the verge of diabetes.

Norton, looking sleepy and on the verge of a long nap.


Mike, looking seductive and on the verge of removing Norton's testicles with her teeth.

Baxter excuses himself to make a phone call, Norton excuses himself to attend to his other guests and Mike excuses herself "to go upstairs." Norton, however, actually just slips into his office to listen in on the call Lord Baxter is making because that's just the way they do things in France.

We also see someone carefully pick up a receiver to listen in from somewhere else in the house. Because of the angle of the shot we can't determine the identity of the mystery eavesdropper...


...but it's Mike Shevlove. Duh.

Baxter is talking about arranging a meeting somewhere, obviously with Gordon so he can buy the mask from him, and when Baxter hangs up Norton calls the police and asks for Inspector Beauvais.

Now we cut to Fenomenal climbing around on a roof, spying on Baxter as he leaves his hotel. There's a long, dull sequence where Baxter tries to dodge a couple of plainclothes policemen who are tailing him through a crowd watching a parade. Its a trope we've seen done much more effectively in many other films, and here it just feels like a pointless filler.

Eventually Baxter ditches the cops, doubles back to that same grey sportscar everyone in the movie seems to drive and speeds off to his illicit rendezvous outside of town.


"I hope this one's mine...they all look the same."

On a rural road somewhere Baxter and Gordon meet to make their exchange. Gordon hands over the mask but asks Baxter to wait while he checks the briefcase to make sure the money is inside. When he opens it he finds it empty with the word "Fenomenal" written inside it with a sharpie. Baxter punches him, hops in the car and drives off.


Wait...what?

Now there's a lame chase that inexplicably starts back in Paris along the Seine, then cuts to outside the city with the skyline in the background, then back to what appears to be the hill country of central Italy. It's a long, hacked-up, out-of-order scene with lots of pistols fired out car windows and lots of tires squealing along serpentine curves. It ends with Baxter's car going off a cliff and bursting into flames, seemingly taking both him and the mask to a fiery grave.

Gordon goes down to the wreck to investigate but can find neither the mask nor a body. He looks up to see Fenomenal standing all akimbo at the top of the hill, mocking him with that reverb-heavy hernia laugh.


"I hope I'm laughing at the right guy. I can't see a goddamn thing."

We cut to Lord Baxter's hotel where for some unexplored reason Mike has gotten a maid to let her into his room. She finds him there hog-tied on the floor with a gag in his mouth. She pulls it out and he says "That madman Fenomenal" jumped him and left him there.

Oh, brother...let's try to unpack all this. We are meant to believe that Fenomenal watched from a hotel roof as Baxter evaded the police, but that he was actually disguised as Baxter and watching himself, somehow bending the laws of time and space to provide the viewing audience with a red herring. His disguise was so good he was able to trick Gordon to get the mask back, then he led him on a lengthy car chase where they were never more than 500 yards apart, and somehow managed to get out of the car and send it over a cliff, saving both himself and the mask. Then he just walked away from it all laughing his painful hernia laugh at all the people would eventually pay real money to watch this shit in a theater and presumably hitched a ride home on a cheese truck.

The next morning Alfred the butler wakes Norton to tell him a large, heavy package has been delivered. Norton opens it to find the mask and a note simply reading "From Fenomenal." He picks it up and hands it to Alfred for safekeeping. it clearly has no heft and without the fancy lighting of the museum it's even more obvious that yes, it is indeed made of fiberglass.


"Don't drop it, now Alfred...you might chip the paint."

We cut to Doughface, Beauvais, Norton and Mike watching tensely as Micklewitz examines the recovered mask. After a few seconds of scrunching up his eyebrows and wrinkling his forehead like he's trying to fill up his Depends, he declares it to be a forgery.

In a cafe somewhere Gordon and one of his goons are having a good laugh over a newspaper article speculating as to who might have ended up with the real mask. M. Mole looks like he's about to shit a watermelon as Gordon stares him down, declaring "even a baby could figure it out."


I'd shit a watermelon, too with that face staring at me.

Doughface confronts the artist who made the fake mask for him and finds out that someone else called from the museum after he'd placed the order and asked to have a second one made. Doughface calls Inspector Beauvais, but just as he's about to say the name of the only possible culprit someone sneaks up behind and chokes him to death with a chain. The murderer leaves the phone off the hook, however and Beauvais manages to trace the call.

Norton, meanwhile has had a long, depleting day of being sleepy-eyed and ineffective. He goes into one of his innumerable living rooms and begins to pour himself a refreshing drink, only to be confronted by Gordon, who's been sitting and waiting for him to arrive with a gun in his hand.

Norton offers him some scotch and they have a nice, friendly conversation. Gordon doesn't understand why Fenomenal sent the mask to Norton or why someone put a fake mask back in the gallery. Norton explains that the mask Gordon stole was also a copy, that he's been double-crossed and that he knows exactly who double crossed him.

Gordon has apparently forgotten that he had already figured he'd stolen a fake mask and that he'd been double-crossed and who double-crossed him in the cafe scene two minutes ago.


They tried to photograph Gordon's good side but it turns out he doesn't have one.

So Norton says he wants to make a deal and shows Gordon an envelope full of some goodies. In exchange for two hundred thousand francs and a plane ticket to Tangiers, Norton wants Gordon to sign a statement admitting that he was hired to steal the mask and naming the man who hired him.

Gordon knows this would make him a fugitive, leaving him vulnerable no matter where he might go, so instead of signing the thing he just grabs the whole bundle out of Norton's hand and gets ready to leave town. He calls Norton an amateur (he may have a point there) and levels the gun at him, saying he no longer needs him now that he has the money, the ticket and the incriminating statement.

Just as Gordon is about to rid us of this dull, impotent would-be hero someone off-screen fires a shot and Gordon drops to the ground dead. Norton runs out of the house and jumps on top of a retreating car. He reaches in and pulls out the driver, and instead of crashing into a tree the car just stops by itself, and two other thugs jump out from the passenger doors.

Vigorous fisticuffs are exchanged, but it's three against one and eventually Norton is knocked to the ground and the mystery men get away. I'm not sure why they didn't kill him, or why Norton was so upset with them anyway since they did actually save his life.

Inspector Beauvais and Norton have a little palaver up on the Eiffel Tower now. Norton asks if Beauvais has looked into M. Mole. He says he has but Mole has an alibi. He also asks if he knows where Micklewitz and Mike are but he does not. Beauvais doesn't know much of anything but he's still pretty damn smug. Norton takes the piss out of him, suggesting that he'll probably soon get some useful hint from Fenomenal since it's at times like this, when he police are stumped, that he tends to intervene.


"I should throw you right off of here you condescending piece of shit."

Now we see the Mole and Mlle. G. getting attacked by someone we're supposed to think is Fenomenal, but who's forty pounds lighter and has conspicuous breasts. Fake Fenomenal knocks them both out with Chloroform and we abrubtly cut to Norton at home finding Alfred tied up on the stairs.

There's been a lot of pointless smoke and mirrors so far, presumablydesigned to create the illusion of a complex, byzantine plot when really there's barely any plot at all, but this incident in particular doesn't connect at all with anything else in the movie. It appears that an entire scene may have been cut here or perhaps it was never even filmed. For reasons I'll discuss later I suspect it's the latter and that there was probably a lot of material that was never filmed.

Norton just leaves Alfred tied up on the stairs and goes up to find Fake Fenomenal poking around one of his innumerable library/studies. He punches the imposter then pulls off the mask to find that it's Mike Shevlove. He tells her he knows she isn't Fenomenal because the real Fenomenal just told him that he saw her pretending over at the Mole's house. Also he knows that Fenomenal does not have breasts. Also we already figured out that Norton is Fenomenal the first time he stepped on screen.

He teasingly quizzes her about what she discovered in her investigations, she giggles a little and then they kiss. Remeber, this is right after he just punched her right in the face, so either her nose is made of plywood or Norton punches like a nine year-old girl.


On the other hand she did say good relationships are built on pain.

We now cut to Norton making out with some redheaded chippie we've never seen before and will never see again. Alfred comes in with the telephone. Mike is on the line and gives him some titbit of info she's just discovered which we will never be told. Now that they've punched and smooched each other they're apparently in an open relationship and working together to fight crime.

When he hangs up the phone the mystery redhead casually mentions that Mlle. G. has borrowed her yacht for a couple of weeks. She's telling him in confidence, you see, because Mlle. G. didn't want anyone to know about it, but she couldn't keep such a juicy bit of gossip to herself or she'd just burst.

It's always nice having an extra yacht or two around to lend to friends, and it's always completely plausible when a one-scene walk-on character provides vital information to the protagonist completely out of the blue.

And now we're in Tunisia...because why the fuck not? Mole and G have flown in to meet Baxter at a hotel in Tunis. Mole tells him that the "package" will arrive the following day and asks if "Jack" is ready for it.

Baxter wants to make sure it's the genuine article and wants to see it in person before he makes any payment. Mole says no problem. It's genuine and it will arrive safely on the yacht. Meanwhile Beauvais is hiding behind a newspaper and listening to every word they say.


"Iyam a normal touriste reading a normal newspapier. Iyam not leestening at all!"

Now we see the yacht out on the ocean and a couple of crewmen come up onto the beach in an inflatable dinghy to find some creepy guy wrapped in blanket waiting for them.


Whoever could it be?


Why it's Fenomenal, of course!

Fenomenal beats the crap out of five guys here, and since we all fucking know Norton is Fenomenal it begs the question of why he got his ass kicked hard by only three guys the night Gordon was killed. Does he just feel more confident puncturing kidneys and punching out teeth when he's wearing black? Does the turtleneck compress his muscles and increase the power of his blows? Are his other senses heightened to perfection because he's completely fucking blind with that sock on his head? The world may never know.

So he knocks out the five guys on the beach and suddenly we jump cut to him kicking the asses of the remaining crew still on the yacht. We're to assume he took the dinghy over to the yacht and got on board without anyone seeing him in his conspicuous black body suit, and we simply must learn to accept all the nonsense at this point or we'll never get this thing done. Suffice to say Fenomenal gets rid of everyone on board, then finds a captain's outfit that's been fortuitously left there for him in a duffel bag. He begins to remove his gloves like he's about to change into them.

Back in the city we see that Mike has also arrived in Tunisia.


And she's sure attracting some attention.

Norton and Beauvais are there, and they've noticed her, too. They follow her at a discrete distance.

Norton makes a deal: If Beauvais tells him how he knew to come to Tunisia he'll tell Beauvais who Mike is. Beauvais says Fenomenal sent for him and Norton whispers something in Beauvais' ear that seems to surprise him. I have a feeling that we'll eventually find out what that surprising thing is but that by the time it happens I'm not gonna give a shit anymore.

So now we're back on the yacht, where Baxter is paying off Mole and Mlle. G. Is paying off the yacht's captain and sending him back to Marseilles, and it's all as if the previous scene where Fenomenal beat up the crew didn't even happen. The captain is wearing the clothes we saw Fenomenal take out of the duffel bag and we know from earlier that Fenomenal is a master of disguise, but I honestly can't imagine a scenario where this scene would make sense in the context of what we saw before.


The mysteries of Fenomenal are legion, but they're not what the filmmakers intended them to be.

My suspicion is that whatever was to have happened to make the previous footage work was never filmed, but the producers realized that without the mostly-completed beach-and-boat fight they couldn't reach the feature-length run time required to obtain theatrical distribution in Europe so they ended up editing it piecemeal from whatever snippets of scenes they had in the can. The unfilmed scenes hypothesis would also explain the abrupt edit after Fake Fenomenal chloroformed Mole and G, why we never saw Fenomenal pilot the dinghy to the yacht after the fight on the beach and maybe even the continuity issues with the safe and the smoke bomb incident. They didn't have the connecting footage so they just slapped it together out of order and hoped no one would notice how incoherent it was.

So Baxter, Mole and G take the dinghy back to the pier where they've left their cars and Mole goes off to the bank to cash Baxter's check. G tells him she isn't feeling well, says she'll hitch a ride back to the hotel with Baxter and meet Mole there later. She gives him a little peck on the cheek and tells him "Don't make me wait too long."

He gets in his car, turns the key and...


Betrayed with a kiss. How very New Testament.

So Norton asks Beauvais what he's waiting for to make his move and recover the mask and Beauvais explains that he wants to capture the "mastermind" behind the whole scheme and will wait until he's sure he can get him. He assures Norton he has everything under control but after all of the hijinks and buffoonery we've seen from him thus far Norton is justifiably skeptical.

We cut to Fenomenal stalking around in a hotel corridor. When the elevator opens he hides in a doorway and Mike steps out of the liftout barely wearing a skimpy green-striped, vinyl abomination that could only have happened in the 1960's.


That's some original series Star Trek shit there.

Fenomenal slinks around a bit, looking for a place to duck away before she spots him, and he ends up slipping into an office where a guy in a fez is asleep at a desk. He creeps over to a door on ths other side of the room and takes a peek behind it to see a bevy of shapely babes cooing and giggling around a sauna bath.


Hello ladies.

Fez Guy wakes up to a pervy bloke with a sock on his head peeking through the door and gets up to confront him, and he and Fenomenal duke it out in the sauna for about three minutes while ladies in various states of undress scream and trot around and wring their hands in horror. To be clear, there is absolutely no justification for any this from a narrative perspective. This is all about cleavage.


"I need fifteen barely-clothed women and a stuntman with a fez!"

It's so poorly shot, choreographed, edited it doesn't even provide the gratuitous tittilation the producers so desperately needed, but still photos from this scene were nonetheless featured liberally in the promotional materials for the film, with some lobby cards even including nudity that does not actually appear onscreen.


We share your pain and embarassment, random sauna lady.

Fenomenal dispatches the Fez and goes out on the roof (through the sauna?) where he climbs down onto the balcony of Baxter's hotel room. He watches Baxter leave carrying a case large enough to conceal the mask, but instead of following him he just sneaks in and starts rooting through Baxter's stuff. He hears the door opening and slips into a wardrobe to hide, and we see that it's Mike again, who's come to root through Baxters stuff a little herself. She almost immediately finds a book or ledger of some sort and is satisfied enough with this discovery that she leaves without any further searching. This significance of this item is never explained.

Now we cut to Micklewitz tinkling tunelessly at a pianoforte. A minion-type guy whom we've never seen before comes in to tell him that Baxter has arrived.


The "mastermind." Duh.

Micklewitz wheels himself out to the courtyard to meet Baxter and we get some "tying up loose ends" exposition, about how the Mole killed Gordon and Doughface and how Mole was gonna blackmail him for the rest of eternity if he and Mlle. G didn't get rid of him, which is all just piling tired tropes on top of tired tropes like a wobbly Jenga tower and waiting for it to fall under the weight of its own absurdity.

We also learn that Micklewitz has some kind of special documents that will allow him to decipher some hieroglyphics on the mask so they can finally locate something called "The Akheman Treasure," which has never once been mentioned in the entire rest of the movie.

Baxter asks the professor to produce the secret documents but the Professor produces a gun instead. The Englishman manages to turn him around before he can shoot then roll him off a pier into the ocean.


That's what you get for introducing a whole new plot thread in the last five minutes of the movie.

Baxter grabs the mask to run off with it, but Micklewitz still has a couple of tricks up his sleeve...or rather up his trouser legs, as we see him standing up with his pistol drawn, dripping wet but perfectly ambulatory despite having spent the rest of the film in a wheelchair.


It's a miracle!

There's no word on how Micklewitz climbed out of the water, ran completely around the building and through multiple gates to reach the far end of this spacious courtyard in the time it took Baxter to literally just pick up the mask and turn on his heels, but regardless the Englishman now finds himself backed against a wall and trapped like a rat. We hear a gunshot and he falls to the ground dead, but it wasn't Micklewitz who did it, it was Mlle. G, standing on the roof with the unnamed minion and at least 500 yards from where fell.


She has her Girl Scout merit badge for marksmanship proudly framed on her bedtoom wall.

Mickelwitz looks up and asks "Where is Mike?" and the henchman says she's in the cellar. I ask "How the hell did she get there?" but the henchman will not tell.

Norton knows how, apparently, because he shows up out of nowhere to rescue her. As he unties her she asks how he found her and he says "sheer intuition," adding "I'm not like Beauvais. I don't get tips from Fenomenal." She asks if he thinks maybe Beauvais is Fenomenal and he says "Maybe we'll never know." Then they make out. Because of course they do.


They don't even seem to be enjoying it.

They reach the roof of Micklewitz's villa just in time to see him speeding off in a boat with G and the Henchman.


Also, Beauvais shows up with a helicopter.

Beauvais asks what happened to Baxter and Norton tells him "He slipped on a banana peel." That's actual dialog, people.

There's only room for one more on the chopper so Mike hops on board and Norton climbs down some rocks to a speedboat that's just floating there at the base of an incline waiting for him to purloin it.

Now we have a boat-on-boat-on-helicopter chase, which seems like something you'd like to see until you actually see it. G goes full throttle on the boat while Micklewitz and the henchman grab some guns and start taking pot-shots at the chopper, and Norton leads from behind, as usual.


Micklewitz must have a cheat code because that thing never runs out of ammo.

Beauvais starts firing back and sprays the deck with bullets right at the miscreants' feet, causing Micklewitz freak out and throw the mask overboard. The henchman dives in after it, and Mike strips down to a bathing suit she just happens to be wearing under the Star Strek thing and dives in after him.


Mike has a Girl Scout merit batch for swimming. Be like Mike. Be prepared.

There's a struggle underwater for the mask and the henchman seems to be winning, but Fenomenal shows up to save the day, still wearing his eyeless sock-mask yet somehow able to see perfectly well, even underwater.


What a man.

Mike surfaces at one point and sees that Norton is not in his boat, then dives again to avoid a bullet from the professor. After an interminable up and down and back and forth battle that seems to have them submerged long enough to drown a whale, Fenomenal finally strangles the henchman and retrieves the mask. Beauvais has meanwhile hopped down on the roof of the pilot house of the boat and forced Micklewitz and G to surrender.

There's a brief, pointless coda where Mike is enjoying some native Tunisian music and dance before heading off to catch their plane back to France. Beauvais has the professor and Mlle. G in custody and they're all set to travel on the same flight. As Norton and Mike go through customs an agent searches Norton's carry-on. He finds something that causes him to cock a puzzled eyebrow, then holds up Fenomenal's black sock-mask.


"Oh, monsieur! It is shaped just like zee butt plug!"

On the plane Alfred asks Norton about Mike's true identity. You remember Alfred, right? The butler we haven't seen for like 45 minutes? He's there in Tunisia, too because they needed someone to ask Norton about Mike so we could all find out together that she's an American Secret Service agent. Which isn't what we call them here, but whatever.


Also I no longer give a shit.

Once they're in the air we begin to hear a ticking noise, suggesting there may be a time bomb somewhere on the plane. Each of the main characters gets a tense close-up where they're looking around in panic and confusion, until finally Mike sees something off-camera and laughs. It turns out it's a child playing with a little ticking, hopping wind-up dinosaur, because the filmmakers clearly strove to end their horrible film in the dumbest way imaginable.


The End. Finally.

"Well that was fucking lame!"

"Sparky! I thought you were asleep."

"I was. I had a nice little nap courtesy of Monsieur Fenomenal and Senor Tequila. I guess I was out for most of the movie, huh? Did I miss anything important?"

"Nope. Not a goddamned thing."



Final Observations:

--Directed by Ruggero Deodato, his first credited film. He had previously co-directed Hercules: Prisoner of Evil (1964) with schlock-meister Antonio Margheriti, whose scintillating body of work has been sampled on MMT here, here, here, and here.

--Deodato was primarily known for boundary-pushing gore in such films as Jungle Holocaust (1977) and Cannibal Holocaust (1980). The latter film's on-screen deaths were so graphic he had to produce the actors in court to demonstrate that he had not, in fact killed any of them during production.

--Deodato's work has previously been featured on MMT with Raiders of Atlantis (1983).

--In a 1988 interview Deodato admitted that he "didn't give a shit about" Fenomenal and the Treasure of Tutenkamen and that he treated star/producer Mauro Parenti "like shit" throughout the production. Despite this Parenti hired him again to direct his next project Zenabel (1969).

--Parenti produced a total of three films and appeared in a total of twelve (mostly in small supporting roles) between 1962 and 1976.



As always, cheers and thanks for reading!

Written by Bradley Lyndon in January, 2019.

Questions? Comments? Expressions of disgust? Why not skip the middleman and complain to me directly?



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