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A real low in Chabrol's catalogue, this incoherent badly-photographed comedy thriller has none of the cool intelligence of his best work. Although set in Greece, Chabrol uses cemeteries and building sites as ugly locations for his pointless Hitchcock spoof. Jean Seberg channels Tippi Hedren and it's not her fault that she seems marooned throughout. I love Chabrol, but this is a stinker.
"Who's Got the Black Box?" starts with customs officials paying more attention to the black box Socrates, the magician, has, than all of the livestock he is trying to bring into the country. Since it can conceivably interfere with missiles, they have a right to be concerned and torture him until he gives up a little more information before he performs his final trick. Sharps(Michel Bouquet), unctuous weasel that he is, assigns the task of finding the other black boxes to Robert Ford(Christian Marquand) who makes contact with Alcibiades(Claude Chabrol, who also directed) who wants $1,000 for the information he has. Before the deal can be consummated, Ford ends up murdered, with his wife Shanny(Jean Seberg) framed for the deed. As far as Alcibiades is concerned, that should not stop business and still wants his money. And that's when Dex(Maurice Ronet) enters the picture.
"Who's Got the Black Box?" looks great in capturing the beautiful Greek scenery, populated by colorful villains. That's not to mention a totally classic opening scene. Sadly, the movie has no idea where to really go from there. Basically, the plot is just an excuse for Jean Seberg to run all around Greece in miniskirts.(A possible alternate title could be 'The Perils of Shanny.') To be honest, it is kind of unfair to ask her to carry the film since she is not really a comedienne and certainly no Audrey Hepburn. Claude Chabrol trying to do zany and madcap does not work either, with a dash of politics thrown in, as it clashes wildly with his normal straightforward tendencies.
A wannabe-Hitchcockian romp that is neither Hitchcockian nor rompish.
Road to Corinth (1967)
Far from stellar Chabrol, this is basically a farce, a half-mocking comedy that looks well but messes with Zorba, Bond and Hitchcock (surprise). The aerial shots mock the idea of scenery - a taunting affront to tourism, the Greek tourist board, the desire of the viewer to be transported elsewhere. The yarn is stodge and silly, TV spy serial material at best. But Seberg is an alluring parody of table-turning plaything. Corinthe seems to try cross-reference itself out of existence while not being sure why or indeed to what it is referring. Nothing here for the emotions or mind. Not a patch on La Rapture or Que Cet Homme Meure. Watch to relax.
Master Director Claude Chabrol is at his most playful here with elements of Hitchcock and Stanley Dones 60s thrillers thrown into a Greek mix which makes the film thrilling and by turns funny.
The director even appers in a viatl and of course funny cameo part.
The plot is fairly straightforward With Jean Seberg becoming involved in her dead husbands spying for the French.
What makes the film fun ,is the set pieces and the characters which include a White suited straw boater wearing killer ,A Turkish Delight selling secret agent and a large lady as a hit woman.
Add to that a marblehead full of electric gizmos and a Pre credit sequence involving a magician and a car full of rabbits and doves and you have one the directors more fun works.
Your enjoyment of this movie is likely to be proportional to your affection (or otherwise) for the likes of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.", "The Avengers", Dean Martin's 'Matt Helm' movies, Ken Russell's "Billion Dollar Brain", the original "Casino Royale", etc, etc. The presence of Jean Seberg is certainly a bonus. Try to imagine a French version of "The Avengers", set in Greece, and you'll have a good idea of what's in store here. The paper-thin plot isn't really worth going into, but the location photography is nice and some of Chabrol's compositions are geometrically interesting. Like other products of its time, for example "The Avengers" and "The Prisoner", "The Road to Corinth" is often funny-peculiar rather than funny-haha. One particular scene, in which Seberg, toying with the idea of prostituting herself to raise $1000, is shown a pornographic film by a man in a limousine, reminded me of the Richard Lester of "Help!", for some reason. Seberg's 'Perils of Pauline-like' brushes with death are great fun. One for the Seberg or Chabrol completist, or for connoisseurs of campy Sixties entertainment.