Danger: Diabolik


1h 45m 1968

Brief Synopsis

In psychedelic swinging 60s style, the dreaded thief (and killer) Diabolik wreaks havoc on a generic European country for his own financial gain and amusement. He shares an extravagant underground lair (and a giant bed of money) with his curvaceous, superficial girlfriend...who uses her awesome powers of wig-wearing to help Diabolik kill innocent people and steal billions from the government. Nonetheless, Diabolik is the "hero" of the film because he must face off against bumbling cops and revenge-seeking mafiosos.

Film Details

Also Known As
Diabolik
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
New York opening: 11 Dec 1968: May 1968
Production Company
Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica S.p.A.; Marianne Productions
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures
Country
France
Screenplay Information
Based on an article by Luciana Giussani and Angela Giussani (publication undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Diabolik, a daring international master thief, has climaxed a series of robberies by hijacking a $10 million gold shipment, and frustrated Inspector Ginco attempts to set a trap for him by using a million-dollar necklace as bait. When Diabolik again gets safely away with the loot, Ginco aligns himself with underworld boss Ralph Valmont to work out a scheme to trap the elusive thief. Valmont kidnaps Diabolik's girl friend, Eva Kant, and holds her for ransom, but Diabolik rescues his girl, escapes from Ginco's trap, and blows up the nation's tax records to the delight of the populace and the dismay of the minister of finance. In a desperate effort to capture Diabolik, all the remaining gold reserve is melted down for one huge ingot that is encased in steel. Unaware that the ingot has been made radioactive, Diabolik makes off with it, puts on a special protective suit, and begins to melt it down in his underground hideout. While the police follow the radioactive trail, the ingot suddenly explodes and covers Diabolik with molten gold, turning him into a statue. The gilded figure is put on display, and Eva comes to visit it before she is arrested by Ginco as an accomplice. She is startled to see the statue wink at her; and reassured that Diabolik has outwitted his adversaries once again, she leaves with Ginco.

Film Details

Also Known As
Diabolik
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
New York opening: 11 Dec 1968: May 1968
Production Company
Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica S.p.A.; Marianne Productions
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures
Country
France
Screenplay Information
Based on an article by Luciana Giussani and Angela Giussani (publication undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Danger: Diabolik - Mario Bava's DANGER DIABOLIK on DVD


The sinister, masked man called Diabolik is an inverted Batman, a selfish Robin Hood, a darker James Bond. He's a thief, a prankster and a sensualist. Diabolik is also the focus of a long-running Italian comic and more memorably for those outside Italy the headliner in Danger: Diabolik, a 1968 cult film that's survived the years surprisingly well. Directed by thrifty stylist Mario Bava, Danger: Diabolik is as willfully garish and tongue-in-cheek implausible as you might hope from a comic book film and can now be seen in a top-notch DVD. It's the kind of goofy, entertaining release that most people will enjoy once while those more attuned to its specific aesthetic will find enough beyond the goofs and entertainment to watch it over and over.

Danger: Diabolik works more on a premise than a full storyline. Diabolik is a steely mastermind in the mold of such Euro-criminals as Fantomas, Dr. Mabuse, Dr. Nikola and even Raffles the gentleman thief. When at work, Diaboik tends to hijack shipments of cash or gold while taunting the local constabulary. When off the clock he grabs his icy blonde girlfriend and retreats to a cavernous underground lair that resembles a gigantic glass-and-chrome Habitrail, only with lava. Constantly attempting to out-thwart Diabolik is Inspector Ginko, not the typical bumbling policeman but still one whose plans never quite turn out as he had hoped. Such as the time he decides the best way to capture Diabolik is to turn loose the mobster powers-that-be.

Hundreds upon hundreds of B-movies and direct-to-video releases didn't dare to skimp by with barely this much plot but what's kept Danger: Diabolik going long after those have been forgotten is simply the brash, in-your-face way it's told. Director Bava (Black Sunday) cultivates a lushly unrealistic style, deploying an array of unmuted colors, peculiar camera angles, overly broad acting and whatever else might keep the proceedings in motion. The opening sequence, for instance, features a very high shot looking down on an almost empty parking lot, jumps to fish-eye-lens distortion and drops to low angles with the camera almost on the ground. This doesn't amount to a vision in the way that, say, William Blake or Jean Vigo had a vision but it could hardly be bettered for the exploits of Diabolik.

Such a catch-all approach even extends to the casting. What else could you make of a movie that includes art film refugee Michel Piccoli, British comic Terry-Thomas, former Bond baddie Adolfo Celi and Austrian exploitation queen Marisa Mell? Portraying Diabolik is American-in-Europe John Philip Law who filmed Danger: Diabolik while prepping for his role in Barbarella. Law is required to do little more than glare, look serious and occasionally sweet talk Mell but he can glare with the best of them.

A perfect complement is the twisty, quasi-psychedelic score by five-time-Oscar® nominee Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Mission). Diabolik's theme is an incessant, unforgettable guitar riff (sometimes accompanied by blaring trumpet) while the underground lair gets a quasi-Indian trippiness. Morricone is dashing all over the place with enough ideas for five films, so much that eventually it starts to sound like somebody's just dropping needles on assorted LPs from an impossibly hip collection. Though never released separately from the film, Morricone's score has been widely recognized by critics and aficionados as a landmark.

Fans may have been dismayed when an earlier announced release of the DVD was delayed but the final version was definitely worth the wait. The transfer is bright, letterboxed and nearly spotless. A commentary from Diabolik his-own-bad-self John Philip Law along with Bava biographer and Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas is a constant pleasure. They're pretty much an ideal tag team, tossing out info from both historical and personal perspectives. Law reveals how the astonishing underground set was mostly matte paintings though so well done that few viewers are likely to realize this. Lucas not only IDs various supporting actors but explains what relevance this has. They keep this exchange going for the entire film, resulting in one of the best DVD commentaries to date. Other extras on the disc include a featurette about the transition from comic to screen and a Beastie Boys video based on Diabolik (unfortunately not that interesting).

For more information about Danger: Diabolik, visit Paramount Home Entertainment. To order Danger: Diabolik, go to TCM Shopping.

by Lang Thompson
Danger: Diabolik - Mario Bava's Danger Diabolik On Dvd

Danger: Diabolik - Mario Bava's DANGER DIABOLIK on DVD

The sinister, masked man called Diabolik is an inverted Batman, a selfish Robin Hood, a darker James Bond. He's a thief, a prankster and a sensualist. Diabolik is also the focus of a long-running Italian comic and more memorably for those outside Italy the headliner in Danger: Diabolik, a 1968 cult film that's survived the years surprisingly well. Directed by thrifty stylist Mario Bava, Danger: Diabolik is as willfully garish and tongue-in-cheek implausible as you might hope from a comic book film and can now be seen in a top-notch DVD. It's the kind of goofy, entertaining release that most people will enjoy once while those more attuned to its specific aesthetic will find enough beyond the goofs and entertainment to watch it over and over. Danger: Diabolik works more on a premise than a full storyline. Diabolik is a steely mastermind in the mold of such Euro-criminals as Fantomas, Dr. Mabuse, Dr. Nikola and even Raffles the gentleman thief. When at work, Diaboik tends to hijack shipments of cash or gold while taunting the local constabulary. When off the clock he grabs his icy blonde girlfriend and retreats to a cavernous underground lair that resembles a gigantic glass-and-chrome Habitrail, only with lava. Constantly attempting to out-thwart Diabolik is Inspector Ginko, not the typical bumbling policeman but still one whose plans never quite turn out as he had hoped. Such as the time he decides the best way to capture Diabolik is to turn loose the mobster powers-that-be. Hundreds upon hundreds of B-movies and direct-to-video releases didn't dare to skimp by with barely this much plot but what's kept Danger: Diabolik going long after those have been forgotten is simply the brash, in-your-face way it's told. Director Bava (Black Sunday) cultivates a lushly unrealistic style, deploying an array of unmuted colors, peculiar camera angles, overly broad acting and whatever else might keep the proceedings in motion. The opening sequence, for instance, features a very high shot looking down on an almost empty parking lot, jumps to fish-eye-lens distortion and drops to low angles with the camera almost on the ground. This doesn't amount to a vision in the way that, say, William Blake or Jean Vigo had a vision but it could hardly be bettered for the exploits of Diabolik. Such a catch-all approach even extends to the casting. What else could you make of a movie that includes art film refugee Michel Piccoli, British comic Terry-Thomas, former Bond baddie Adolfo Celi and Austrian exploitation queen Marisa Mell? Portraying Diabolik is American-in-Europe John Philip Law who filmed Danger: Diabolik while prepping for his role in Barbarella. Law is required to do little more than glare, look serious and occasionally sweet talk Mell but he can glare with the best of them. A perfect complement is the twisty, quasi-psychedelic score by five-time-Oscar® nominee Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Mission). Diabolik's theme is an incessant, unforgettable guitar riff (sometimes accompanied by blaring trumpet) while the underground lair gets a quasi-Indian trippiness. Morricone is dashing all over the place with enough ideas for five films, so much that eventually it starts to sound like somebody's just dropping needles on assorted LPs from an impossibly hip collection. Though never released separately from the film, Morricone's score has been widely recognized by critics and aficionados as a landmark. Fans may have been dismayed when an earlier announced release of the DVD was delayed but the final version was definitely worth the wait. The transfer is bright, letterboxed and nearly spotless. A commentary from Diabolik his-own-bad-self John Philip Law along with Bava biographer and Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas is a constant pleasure. They're pretty much an ideal tag team, tossing out info from both historical and personal perspectives. Law reveals how the astonishing underground set was mostly matte paintings though so well done that few viewers are likely to realize this. Lucas not only IDs various supporting actors but explains what relevance this has. They keep this exchange going for the entire film, resulting in one of the best DVD commentaries to date. Other extras on the disc include a featurette about the transition from comic to screen and a Beastie Boys video based on Diabolik (unfortunately not that interesting). For more information about Danger: Diabolik, visit Paramount Home Entertainment. To order Danger: Diabolik, go to TCM Shopping. by Lang Thompson

Quotes

Is that stud coming?
- Ralph Valmont

Trivia

Was the last movie spoofed by Mystery Science Theatre: 3000

The movie is based on "Diabolik", one of the longest running - and most successful - Italian comic strips. It was created by Angela and Luciana Giussani, two Milan sisters who built a small and very profitable publishing empire out of the "King of Terror"'s success. In the paper version, "Diabolik" is much more sinister than its cinematic counterpart - he's a criminal fighting evil with evil, often resorting to murder to "punish" the evildoers he meets. The movie was made assuming some knowledge of the comic strip - thus explaining the negative reaction it gets outside Italy.

According to John Phillip Law, the first choice for the role of Ava Kent was an unknown model from New York, who was a friend of the Head of Paramount (at the time), Charles Bludhorn. Second choice was Catherine Deneuve, who lasted for about a week, until director Mario Bava decided she just was not right for the part. He finally found the perfect Ava Kent in Marisa Mell.

Notes

Released in Italy in 1968 as Diabolik; Paris opening: April 1968 as Danger Diabolik; running time: 105 min. Some U. S. sources credit the screenplay to Dino Maiuri, Brian Degas, Tudor Gates, and Mario Bava, based on a story by Angela and Luciana Giussani, Dino Maiuri, and Adriano Baracco.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring May 1968

Released in United States on Video September 9, 1992

Released in United States 1996

Film is based upon European comic-strip character of the same name.

dubbed

Released in United States Spring May 1968

Released in United States on Video September 9, 1992

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in Los Angeles (American Cinematheque) as part of program "The Haunted World of Mario Bava" July 26 - August 31, 1996.)