When the biggest money transport ever in Italy takes place, inspector
Ginko (Michel Piccoli) decides to leave nothing to chance, so that master
criminal Diabolik (John Phillip Law) won't steal the money, including
sending a heavily guarded transport off as a decoy while hiding the money
in an inconspicious car (well, not totally inconspicius, it's a Rolls
Royce). But of course, Diabolik is always one step ahead, inasmuch as he
doesn't try to only steal the money but he steals the whole car, &
later makes good his getaway with hte help of his girlfriend Eva (Marisa
Mell) & a black & a white Jaguar. Not only that, with the help of
some laughing gas, he makes the whole police department & the finance
minister (Terry-Thomas) the laughing stock of the nation.
Ginko has a rather unorthodox plan to catch Diabolik ... he reinstates the
death penalty for big time gangsters like Ralph Valmont (Adolfo Celi). Now
Valmont is quite good in evading justice & stuff, but since he doesn't
want ot gamble his life, he suggests a deal to Ginko: Diabolik for
Valmont's life. Ginko - who has expected such a deal - agrees.
papers are full of the priceless diamond necklace of Lady Clarke (Caterina
Borratto), & everybody (including Diabolik) knows that Diabolik will
make an attempt to steal the diamonds, only nobody knows just how he is
going to do it ... easy as pie actually, first he has Eva spy out the
place, a midieval cawtle, disguised as a streetwalker (though it's not
quite exsplained how), then he climbs the castle walls, picks up the
necklace when nobody's looking & ultimately catapults himself from one
of the castle's tower when the police & Valmont's men are after him
... only, he didn't really catapult himself, only his costume to trick his
pursuers, & he walks out the castle through the front door ... of
course pretty much everyone picks up pursuit once they have found that
out, but of course Diabolik can escape them.
Unfortunately though, one
hooker is able to identify Eva as Diabolik's friend, & at the next
opportunity they kidnap her & hold her for ransom: Lady Clarke's
diamond necklace & the money from the money transport ... plus of
course Diabolik himself.
But to the money transfer (in an airplane with
a trap door (!), Diabolik hasn't come unprepared, & soon enough he has
blown up the plane & only saved himself & Valmont - who has
meanwhile taken Lady Clarke's diamonds from Diabolik, hence Diabolik's
Of course once on the ground, Diabolik has just enough
time to free Eva, then he gets into a gunfight with the police &
Valmnt, during which he shoots Valmont - with Lady Clarke's diamonds as
ammouition, then fakes his own death.
Awaking in the morgue, he gives
the coroner the fright of his life, but has not much time to stay because
he has to fetch the diamonds from Valmont's body (who has just been
incinerated). & thus Diabolik has triumphed over the police again.
how to top it ?
Easy, blow up the finance ministry & the national
bank, so all the state's money & all the state's tax records are lost,
so the state has to sell its gold reserves ... but again, inspector Ginko
tries to stay ahead of the game in melting all the gold the state has to
sell into one giant, 20 ton nugget (try to steal that, & seal it into
a steel container that needs 2 days to be welded open, then has it
transported in a train (& try to kidnap a train), with the whole route
heavily guarded !
Of course though, Diabolik is one step ahead of Ginko
after all when he explodes a truck on the railtracks to have a tunnel
blocked, forcing the train to detour, then blows up a bridge over the sea
the train has to pass, & once under water, snatches the container
containing the gold after all. Furhtermore he doesn't try to weld the
container open but only makes to tiny holes into it & uses a laserbeam
to melt the gold & let it drip out - ingenious, if inspector Ginko
hadn't equipped the container with a radio & now follows its signal to
Diabolik's hideout & engages him in a gunfight until the goldcontainer
- having gotten a tad too hot - blows up & covers Diabolik in gold.
could be the end of Diabolik, a gold statue for all eternity, but he's
still wearing his protective suit, so it might only be another plan to get
away once more ...
Let's get one thing clear right away, Diabolik
is not a masterpiece on par with Mario Bava's classics like (to name but
2) La Maschera del Demonio/Black
Sunday & Terrore
of the Vampires, it's rather a silly, campy adaptation of a then
immensely popular comicstrip. That said however, Diabolk is
extremely enjoyable, a fast paced action flick full of glorious pulp
elements like the hero in latex suits, driving Jaguars with a beautiful
blonde on his side, & inhabiting a decadent unerground hideout. &
his crimes are always over the top, with his outrageous plans to get the
loot only exceeded by the police's even more outrageous plans to prevent
him from doing so. & Mario Bava's very stylish direction full of
carefully chosen colours & camera angles, with the occasional hint of
psychedelia thrown in, & the film's overall refusal to take itself too
seriously only add to the film's high entertainment value & make it
one of the best comicstrip adaptations araound (not that that would be too
difficult a task).