Not Your Average… – Kriminal (1966)

Kriminal is another film based upon an Italian comic book, this one about a man who lives for the thrill of his criminal actions. While the movie would differ from the source material by toning the subject matter down when it came to the man’s murderous actions, it still played up the fact that he was a thief and had no compunction about covering his tracks if it did indeed mean killing. In fact, the picture ends up being somewhat lighthearted, if one can overlook the man’s actions. Starring Glenn Saxson, he would portray Kriminal as a suave and debonair man of mystery – like James Bond if he were a crook. Still, Kriminal does dress up like a skeleton and breaks the law quite regularly, but one cannot help but like the man even though some of what he does crosses the line.

In this particular caper, Kriminal is out to steal some diamonds, but to do so, he must con his way through a number of people before reaching his end goal and all the while evading the police and a determined Scotland Yard inspector as played by Andrea Bosic. The film is packed with beautiful women, almost all of whom Kriminal must seduce in order to get the goods and what is more than a little funny about it all is that the women are just as corrupt as he is. Helga Liné plays twin sisters who have stolen the diamonds from someone else and it is she that Kriminal must conquer if he is to get the diamonds he covets. While the movie begins as a more comedic effort, Kriminal trying to avoid the Inspector wherever he goes and playing with people as he would a game of chess, it soon turns into a bit of a suspenseful thriller and director Umberto Lenzi manages to transform it quite seamlessly. That being said, it could have been a little more exciting as those moments when Kriminal was not doing something related to his crimes were, for lack of a better word, slightly boring. Thankfully, the actors and actresses that populated the film managed to keep it interesting and move things along even at their slowest.

Also keeping things lively is the fantastic jazz score by Romano Mussolini, a perfect accompaniment to Kriminal’s crimes and the action that takes place throughout. The locales are beautiful and wonderfully shot and when coupled with everything else, the movie looks and feels good. There are some inventive scenes where Kriminal proves just how smart he is at outwitting those that chase him as well as a couple of good action scenes including one where he jumps onto a moving train to keep it interesting. The only thing missing from this James Bond-turned-villain piece is a worthy opponent as the Inspector is made to look somewhat like a bumbling fool. It is good for a laugh, but a little tension could have been added if the man was at least the equal of his foe. It is only by dumb luck that they are able to catch Kriminal at all which is a little silly, but due to that fact, one can see how a sequel would be possible.

Ultimately, what makes Kriminal such a good movie is the fact that its main protagonist is a villain. He is not a good man and he does not try to be as such. It is only because of his charisma, his charm and how utterly smooth he is at what he does that the audience roots for the guy. Though it might be nice to cheer for the good guy, sometimes it is also a lot of fun to applaud the bad one and Kriminal is exactly that type of guy.

4 out of 5

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