Egon Olsen's criminal trio always gets itself into unlucky, comical situations when executing Egon's genius plans. After release from prison, Egon already has a new plan - steal a valuable German item from a secured museum in Copenhagen.
The first of 13 Olsenbanden films presents us with Egon Olsen, head of the gang, and his friends Benny and Kjeld, who want to become the best known gang in Denmark and eventually Europe by stealing a famous Bavarian work of art currently displayed in a Copenhagen museum. Although Egon's plan works out fine, there is only trouble ahead for the little gang.Written by
E.C. Herrnsdorf <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The first in a great series... but before it got to be good
Watching this is kind of like watching a drawing by Picasso from his childhood... or a home video shot by Stanley Kubrick. Arguably the greatest Danish series of the comedy genre, the films about The Olsen Gang have entertained countless people in many countries... as my father informed me, the former Eastern Germany found it delightful, as it mocked authority(it was permitted by the censors, due to Denmark being a (primarily) capitalistic system). Actually, when they translated the films(by dubbing, as Germany and France are two of the only countries to possess too much arrogance and pride over their language to learn any other, including English), they had to cut out the character of Yvonne... as they simply could not find a German actress to match her. That says something about the energetic and hilarious performance she brings to each of the films(apart from the very last... as she had unfortunately passed away, which was one of the main reasons that it was delayed so many years... and was pitifully awful of a movie by most standards). The actors, basic plot progression, even the theme was in place, right here, from the beginning... it just wasn't as refined as it got to be, through the series. Much of it is just dreadful; the humor is silly and mostly stays at the level of the common denominator(though there are some traces of the satire and social commentary of the later films, as well as the human touch, the small details apparent in most of the films). The acting is incredibly overdone in most cases... even in that of Poul Reichchardt, a seasoned veteran within the art of acting, renowned not only for his film work, but for his many plays in The Danish Royal Theater. The plot is all over the place... for an 80-minute film(most of the later films reach over 100 minutes), it's got more mix-ups and complications than most films of three or four hours. In spite of its almost insipid, uninspired simplicity, it's almost difficult to follow, and far harder to recall. The pace is almost constantly, insistingly off... as if the film doesn't know when to move, where it's going... or how to get there. Some scenes consist entirely of jokes, and many of these are of a comic, cartoony nature... the "gang" survive a major blast from explosives, to give a brief example. Anyone who's seen the film will most likely grant that the last few scenes of the film are just about impossible to take seriously. Then there are all the quips(though, admittedly, some are somewhat funny) at porno, and the diverse reactions towards it(at the time, just before it was released, the issue of it was heavily debated)... all in all, this film is just very much a sign of its time. It was made to appeal to the masses, and this is what Danes preferred back then... silly, mindless fun. It wasn't until a few films later that this series really started to become sophisticated. But that doesn't mean that this film should be forgotten; apart from of course an excellent window into the world view of the Denmark of the late 60's, this film should be watched simply to see the roots of this grand series. Most of what people remember of all the good films of the franchise starts here... it may not be as refined or well-executed as it got to be, but it's still there. The walk of the gang, Yvonne's rants, Egon's impassioned speech to Benny and Kjeld, the very first heist of the film which is always destined to go wrong(one might add that the visual of the three, as we first see them, might have been better saved for a later film, or at least a later moment in this one, as it would have a more humorous effect, once the audience were used to the sight of the three as they usually look)... it started here. It has been said that the most important step of the journey is the first... and while this is arguably (among) the least memorable or entertaining of the steps that is the journey of this series, it is still that vitally important first one. Without this, the world would never have known The Olsen Gang. For that alone, it has my respect. Starting with the next movie, there are changes made. The series heads towards grandeur... slowly, perhaps, but it makes it. I recommend this film to any fan of Danish cinema and The Olsen Gang. If you don't know any of the other films of the series(this wasn't the first I saw; this wasn't where my interest in the franchise begun), I suggest you either look for the good, funny things in this(since they all reappear, many of them done far better, in the later films) or give one of the later films(starting around number 5, "Runs Amok") a chance before or after watching this. There is somewhat little in the way of overall plot throughout the series(though I advise making sure you see at least one other film before "Runs Amok", and make sure you don't start with one of the (2? I think) "Gang" films that start at their holiday destination(any real fan of these films will be able to answer that off the top of their head, and anyone who isn't should find out from the films and not this review). Not an exemplary start, but does show some promise, evidence of things to come. 6/10
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