Tintin and the Golden Fleece

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Tintin and the Golden Fleece
Tintin (1961 film).jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Jean-Jacques Vierne
Produced by André Barret
Written by André Barret
Rémo Forlani
Starring Jean-Pierre Talbot
Georges Wilson
Music by André Popp
Cinematography Raymond Pierre Lemoigne
Edited by Léonide Azar
Distributed by Pathé (France)
Release date(s)
  • 6 December 1961 (1961-12-06) (France)
Country France
Language French, English, Greek

Tintin and the Golden Fleece (in the original French, Tintin et le mystère de la Toison d'or, meaning Tintin and the Mystery of the Golden Fleece) is a film first released in France on 6 December 1961. Featuring characters from the The Adventures of Tintin comic book series written and drawn by the Belgian writer-artist Hergé, it was a live-action film with actors made-up to look like the characters and featured an original storyline not based on any of the books.

The film is set in Turkey and Greece with the main characters of Tintin and Captain Haddock searching for treasure after inheriting a ship called the Golden Fleece. The film was followed by a less successful sequel, Tintin and the Blue Oranges.

Plot[edit]

Captain Haddock (Georges Wilson) learns that an old shipmate, Paparanic, has died and left him a ship, the Golden Fleece. Tintin (Jean-Pierre Talbot), Snowy and the Captain travel to Istanbul only to find that it is an old cargo ship in a really dilapidated state. A businessman named Anton Karabine (Demetrios Myrat) claims to be an old friend of Paparanic and offers to buy the boat for "sentimental" reasons, but the huge amounts that he offers makes Tintin suspicious and on his advice Haddock turns the offer down.

During their stay in Istanbul, a stranger offers to take Tintin and Haddock on a guided tour during which there are two attempts on their lives. This makes them all the more determined to find out what is going on. One of the clauses of Paparanic's will was that Haddock, on accepting the ship, should also fulfil his current obligations and thus they set off for Athens to deliver some carpets. During the journey Tintin catches a member of the crew, Angorapoulos (Marcel Bozzuffi), searching through Paparanic's papers. He is subdued and locked in the hold but escapes.

In Athens, Tintin and Haddock go to the carpet seller Midas Papos (Darío Moreno) who turns out to be another of Paparanic's old shipmates. He is grief-stricken to learn of his friend's death and is about to make a comment about him when he is shot by a man from the window and the gun tossed into the room. Caught holding the gun, Tintin and Haddock are arrested but released thanks to the influence of their friends Thomson and Thompson and Papos, who has recovered in hospital.

An old newspaper article shows that in their youth Paparanic, Papos and Karabine were adventurers who were involved in a coup in the Central American republic of Tetaragua. The article includes a photo of the three of them, plus two strangers, who formed a short-lived government.

Tintin later spots Angorapoulos in a barber's shop and follows him to the local offices of Karexport, which Tintin knows is run by Karabine. When Angorapoulos leaves by car Tintin and his friends follow him to a village out in the countryside where he and some accomplices kidnap a musician at a wedding. Tintin and the captain give chase on a motorbike. The crooks' car is forced off the road when it almost colides with a coach and the villains flee on foot. The kidnap victim, Scoubidouvitch (Dimos Starenios), was the fourth man in the photo. He suffers from "memory loss" but reveals that a large amount of gold is involved and suggests that Tintin and Haddock consult a Father Alexandre (Charles Vanel) who lives in a mountain-top monastery.

Father Alexandre, the fifth man in the photo, is himself a former adventurer who has repented and now spends his days in prayer and meditation. He reveals that when forced out of government in Tetaragua, he and his four comrades took a large quantity of gold from the central bank. Paparanic took the lion's share of the loot while the rest was spread among the others. It's now clear that Karabine wants Paparanic's gold. Before Tintin and Haddock leave, Father Alexandre gives them a bottle of red wine which Paparanic gave him while visiting him last Christmas and told him to drink after his death. Since the priest now abstains from alcohol he entrusts it to his visitors. On the way down from the mountain, Haddock accidentally breaks the bottle, the label of which turns out to be a map, obviously showing the location of Paparanic's gold.

Tintin and Haddock return to the Golden Fleece where they have been joined by their friend Professor Cuthbert Calculus. Another crew member drains the oil out of the engines in order to prevent the ship from leaving port but Calculus has invented a special tablet called Super-Cuthbertoleum which, mixed with the remaining fuel, is more than enough to get the boat started and enables them to reach their destination, the island of Thassika.

The map includes an X just off the island's coast and, using his pendulum, Calculus locates the gold's location. Swimming underwater, Tintin discovers a chest filled with strange dark bars but which he guesses is the gold which has been painted over. No sooner have the members of the Golden Fleece got the chest out of the water that they are held at gunpoint by Karabine, Angorapoulos and their men who got discreetly aboard. Tintin is shot at and falls back into the water while his friends are locked into a cabin and a fuse is set to blow the ship up with dynamite.

Karabine and his men take the chest back to their helicopter only to come under attack by the police, including Thomson and Thompson. Karabine gets aboard the helicopter which suddenly takes off. It turns out that Tintin has replaced the pilot! Karabine tries to force him to land, but Tintin disarms him. Beaten, the crook announces that no-one will get the gold, opens a hatch and lets the chest fall into the ocean.

Tintin's dog Snowy manages to put out the fuse that was about to blow up the ship. Unfortunately the chest is in a deep part of the sea and beyond recovery. However, using his pendulum, Calculus insists that they are still right above the gold. Cutting away at the paint on the ship's railings Tintin realises that they are in fact the camouflaged gold. The chest contained the real railings and was just a red herring.

Back home at Marlinspike Hall, another letter arrives for Captain Haddock, this time from the Government in Tetaragua, thanking him for the return of their gold. Furthermore, it reports that the main square in the capital has been renamed Paparanic Square, and Haddock awarded Tetaragua's highest decoration, the Order of the Scarlet Ocelot - a large medal is enclosed with the letter. Then he and Tintin are treated to a visit by the local band to help celebrate.

Cast[edit]

The actors playing Thomson and Thompson are listed as "incognito" in the end credits.

Snowy the dog is credited as Milou, which is his original French name.

Marcel Bozzuffi, who plays the thug Angorapoulos, is best known as the hitman pursued in the famous car chase and shot by Gene Hackman in The French Connection.

Notes[edit]

"Karabine" is a pun on "carabine", the French for "rifle", a hint that the character may be an arms dealer, though his business is called "Karexport" ("car-export"). The crocodile that symbolises the company (but which is red and facing leftwards) is similar to the logo of Lacoste clothing.

"Scoubidouvitch" comes from the term Scoubidou which was popular at the time.

Book version[edit]

The film was made into a book, in French, English and Spanish. Unlike most of the Tintin books, including that of the animated film Tintin and the Lake of Sharks, it is not in comic strip form, but is made up of written text with stills from the film, some in colour, others in black and white. Today, the English translation is highly sought after by collectors.

External links[edit]