Phantom of Morrisville

Bořivoj Zeman, 1966

Film at Filmový přehled


In 1966, Bořivoj Zeman joined the popular trend of making Czech parodies of “capitalist entertainment.” Like the films Limonádový Joe aneb Koňská opera (Lemonade Joe, 1964), Adéla ještě nevečeřela (Adela Has Not Had Her Supper Yet, 1977), and Tajemství hradu v Karpatech (The Mystery of the Carpathian Castle, 1981), Fantom Morrisvillu (The Phantom of Morrisville) provides a contrast by adding a Czech element to an old-world fictional template. The screenwriter was František Vlček, who had already penned the unrivalled parody Pytlákova schovanka aneb Šlechetný milionář (The Poacher's Foster Daughter, 1949). The Phantom of Morrisville also relies on a defunct subgenre – trashy reading material in the style of the English detective novelist Edgar Wallace. The story is framed by a character who is a member of an opera orchestra whose drums are desperately underutilised in Bizet’s Carmen. The musician passes the time by reading a tattered edition of a detective novel – The Phantom of Morrisville by James Harrison. With its hero, Sir Hanibal Morris, he embarks on an exciting adventure set in the eponymous aristocratic mansion, which is full of secret passageways… Before his marriage to the beautiful Clarence, Morris is haunted by his unresolved past in the form of the villainous adventurer Diaz. He has escaped from jail just before he was due to be executed and he sets out for Morrisville with his three henchmen to seek revenge… The musician tries to finish the novel whilst routinely performing his work at the same time. Consequently, the action is interrupted and scenes are stolen by interludes of “real” life. Besides situational gags, dry English humour also plays in important role in the story. The musical numbers are a less fortunate idea. They sound jarring alongside Bizet and they disrupt the stylistic unity of the detective story. Putting Waldemar Matuška in the role of Diaz is an interesting piece of casting (although the popular star at that time was used more organically in Lemonade Joe). Actors who stand out in the apposite cast include Oldřich Nový as Sir Morris/the musician, Vít Olmer as the investigator Allan Pinkerton, Jan Skopeček in the role of the punctilious manservant John, and Květa Fialová as Clarence.
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Film data

About a film

Production year 1966
Countries Czechoslovakia
Categories film
Genres music, parody
Form feature
Duration 87 min
Director Bořivoj Zeman
Cast Oldřich Nový, Květa Fialová, Jana Nováková, Vít Olmer, Waldemar Matuška
Director of photography Jiří Tarantík
Screenplay František Vlček
Editor Josef Dobřichovský
Production designer Bohumil Pokorný
Music Julius Kalaš
Sound designer Roman Hloch