Your Turn Darling (1963)

Country: France / Italy
Director: Bernard Boderie
Starring: Eddie Constantine, Christiane Minazzoli, Elga Andersen, Philippe Lemaire, Gaia Germani, Noel Roquevert, Colin Drake, Guy Delorme
Music: Paul Misraki

Your Turn Darling sure is one boozy adventure for Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine). As we meet Caution, he is disgruntled because he was called away from a bar at four in the morning where he had been judging a Miss Whiskey competition. Then when searching the crime scene, he doesn’t look for clues, but hidden whiskey bottles — he finds one in the underwear draw. Later, after being knocked out by a black jack, a doctor prescribes a bottle of whiskey for his headache. Then when searching a suspects home, he starts at the liquor cabinet. In case I haven’t laboured the point enough, even when Caution is receiving a mission briefing from the head of the Paris branch he keeps downing slugs of whiskey from his hip flask claiming that it is cough medicine. Spies are often portrayed as hard-living, hard drinking individuals, but this is off the Richter scale.

Just to put things in perspective, this film was made two years before Constantine and Goddard’s seminal spy flick Alphaville, which also features the character Lemmy Caution. Alphaville and Your Turn Darling are truly at opposite ends of the spectrum. Alphaville is mind-blowing art, and Your Turn Darling is low-brow comedy. Don’t get me wrong in thinking that Your Turn Darling is a bad film. It is fast paced and funny (in places), but it is a very different beast to Alphaville and those expecting a film of a similar style and calibre will be sadly disappointed.

As the film starts Olivia Brandt, an agent of the CIA enters the laboratory of scientist Elmer Whitaker. Whitaker has been retained by the US government to work on a solid rocket fuel formula. Inside, Olivia immediately rings her superior Colonel Willis, but before she can relay any important information the lights flicker on and she is shot. Offscreen he can hear the remonstrations of Whitaker as he is kidnapped by the evil-doers. And I’m sorry if this counts as a spoiler, but really a 2nd grader could work it out — the fact that Whitaker’s kidnapping happens off screen and can only be heard by Colonel Willis indicates all is not kosher with the kidnapping.

Later Willis is on the scene and the laboratory has been trashed. As far as he is concerned Whitaker has been kidnapped and must be found, and there is only one man to do the job — it is the CIA’s best man, Lemmy Caution. After some wisecracking and boozing, Lemmy gets down to business. The only real clue they find is a photograph of Whitaker’s fiancee, Geraldine Monteveccio (Gaia Germani). She just happens to be a super model, which means that Lemmy has to investigate her as soon as possible.

Lemmy tracks Geraldine to he Rainbow apartments where she had been staying, but it appears that she paid her bill and checked out with a gentleman only hours before. Lemmy asks more about the gentleman concerened — like if he mentioned his name. The lady behind the reception desk said that he did — he called himself ‘Lemmy Caution’ and said he was taking Miss Monteveccio to Paris to be with her fiance.

Lemmy is on the next plane to Paris, and before the jet has even landed he is trying to score. During the flight he ingraiates himself on Valerie Pontiac, who is a beautiful blonde also heading to Paris. But Lemmy has ulterior motives for chatting up this girl — apart from his fondness for attractive women. You see, despite the fact that she has had plastic surgery, Lemmy recognises her as Carletta Strasser (Christiane Minazzoli). Lemmy knows it is all a trap and a setup, but he is happy to keep playing the game.

The game has quite a few twists too. The first is his contact in Paris, Charles Grant (Philippe Lemaire). It appears that Grant isn’t who he says he is either. He is in fact Henri Frenzetti the mastermind of the insidious kidnapping plot. Although Frenzetti is the alleged mastermind, as the story goes on his actions become more buffoonish, and his character moves from super villain to comic relief.

Then we have the beautiful Gaia Germani as Geraldine Monteveccio. Because Geraldine was fooled by an impostor, she refuses to believe that Lemmy is in fact the real ‘Lemmy Caution’, which means that during her scenes with him, she is ‘feisty’ to the point of ridiculousness.

The film ends with a bizarre fight at a dairy where each of the characters gets covered in fermenting cheese and milk. It doesn’t quite sink down to the level of a cream pie fight but it is getting close. Your Turn Darling is a passable time killer, not much more, but Eddie Constantine does have a distinct screen presence, and it is his presence alone that keeps this film moving along nicely.

Your Turn Darling (1963)

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