Albanian agents are smuggling missile platforms into Mexico. An American agent is devoured by a shark in a phone booth. Superspy Bob St. Cloud is sent to Acapulco to investigate.
There he meets the beautiful Tatiana, but their romance is interrupted when they are attacked by an army of Albanian scuba divers, armed with machine guns.
In the middle of the carnage, a cleaning woman pushes a vacuum cleaner up the beach. She enters the door of a small beach house where . . .
In a shabby Parisian flat, Francois Merlin, writer of cheap fiction is pounding out his 43rd spy novel. He sees a young sociology student through the window of a nearby flat. Though he’s never met her, she becomes part of his novel.
From this beginning, French director Philippe de Broca creates a bizarre comedy of frustrated desires and fantastic dreams. Like Walter Mitty, Merlin creates a fantasy life within his novels far more exciting than his own.
French film star Jean-Paul Belmondo shows great versatility in a dual role as the campy hero Bob St. Cloud and the burnt-out Francois Merlin.
Jacqueline Bisset (pictured) is the vampish spy, Tatiana, as well as Christine, the sociology student who is studying the popular appeal of Merlin’s escapist novels.
Vittorio Caprioli also plays a dual role as Bob St. Cloud’s arch-enemy, the evil Colonel Karpoff, and as Merlin’s smarmy publisher Georges Charon.
De Broca is a master of light comedy and his film careens wildly through moments of high camp, pathos and outright slapstick, as the story switches back and forth between the fantasy of Merlin’s novel to the reality of his own life.
In the end, Merlin must battle his own fictional alter ego, as well as his publisher, for the love of the fair Christine.
This French/Italian co-production was originally released as Le Magnifique.
François Merlin/Bob Saint-Clair
Philippe de Broca