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The French have a way with the spy film (among other things) and this must be among the most eccentric spy films of the 1960's. Paul Meurisse plays Major Theobald Dromar a.k.a. The Monocle, a fey secret agent who wears a monocle (hence the nickname) and cultivates an array of other odd mannerisms. Dromar is exceptionally successful in his work while putting up with the vulgar heathens on both sides of the law that surround him.
This adventure of The Monocle matches the strange character of Dromar to a tee (there were two previous films, The Black Monocle and Eye of the Monocle). There is some nice high contrast black and white photography and a great cool jazz score by Michel Magne, who also scored the Fantomas films. But the highlights of the film revolve around the curiosities tossed at the viewer with nonchalance. Director Georges Lautner (The Great Spy Chase) had charge of the previous Monocle films as well so his feel for the character is well ingrained.
The plot is simple enough but it has little to do with one's enjoyment of the film, after all. Locations in Hong Kong and Macao are used to great effect. Hong Kong never looked so densely crowded nor Macao so spare and haunting. There is lots of street footage in both places, some typical, but most not so.
One of the most unusual spy film experiences, The Monocle grows on you if you give it the chance. As Dromar says at one point `the more I see of the Chinese, it's amazing how like the French they are.'
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