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91 minutes
comedy, romance, action

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This entry created 18 November 2020. Last revised on 18 November 2020.

812 hits since 18 Nov 2020
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
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Curiously, this movie doesn't actually exist – that is, there is no movie starring Raquel Welch as a stuntwoman. Despite the evidence of movie 'posters' showing Raquel holding a gun, or in front of a burning building. laugh

What actually happened is that Jean-Paul Belmondo, a French actor also seen in English-language action movies (when he was young, he did all of his own stunts), had a string of flops. For a comeback, he was paired with co-star Raquel Welch to make a French-language romantic comedy, L'Animal (English: The Animal).

The movie was a hit in France, resurrecting Belmondo's career. In the U.S., the dubbed-in-English movie wasn't doing well titled as The Animal. So they renamed it Stuntwoman, and featured Raquel in the ad campaign.

Which doesn't change the fact that it's not an action picture about sexy Raquel Welch as a stuntwoman, but a light comedy about Jean-Paul Belmondo as a down-and-out stuntman trying to resurrect his stuntman career and win back his girl/partner (Raquel).

As the movie starts, Mike Gaucher (Belmondo) is climbing a burning building to save Jane Garner (Welch) – until the camera shifts, and we see Mike is actually crawling on a horizontal set! The producer surprises them by scheduling them for another stunt the next day, but Jane says no – Mike and Jane have scheduled their wedding. But Mike needs money for the honeymoon, so he tricks Jane into arriving at the movie set… but instead of getting married, Mike screws up the stunt and they end up at the hospital.

Jane is fed up with Mike, and is moving on. Mike is so desperate for work, he is taking jobs at supermarkets in an apesuit.

But then, movie star Bruno Ferrari comes to town to make his latest movie. The only problem is that he's deathly afraid of heights. Fortunately, Mike is a perfect match! (Belmondo plays both roles.)

That sets up the rest of the movie. Can Mike handle his big chance without screwing up? Can he get the stuntwoman fired so Jane can take her place? Can he win Jane back, when she's about to marry into French nobility? Will the director steal Jane away? Will there be lots of mistaken identity between Mike and obviously gay Bruno? And will there be lots of animals?

This is the style of movie that is trying hard to be funny, in an exaggerated way. You'll either enjoy it or hate it. And don't expect it to always make sense.

Belmondo gets off to a slow start, but you start to see his charm after awhile, and he has a great deal of fun in his dual roles. This is Welch in her late 30s, maturing as an actress, breathtakingly beautiful in some wonderful costumes – but she's not the focus of the film. Lots of good supporting actors being silly.

Can you game it? No, it's not an action movie, even though Raquel holds a gun on the DVD cover (apparently a picture from some other movie!). And she fires a machinegun from a movie car in a stunt.

If you watch this, try to find a good copy – the version I had was definitely low quality in picture and audio.

To my surprise, I liked the movie. But then, Raquel is just so beautiful.