Admittedly, That Man From Rio is a pretty silly movie. In the spoof on the James Bond-style spy oeuvre, Jean-Paul Belmondo plays a military man (but really, who cares what he’s doing, he’s the always swoon-worthy Jean-Paul Belmondo) who returns home to Paris on an eight-day furlough to visit his fiancée, played by Françoise Dorléac (who has never looked better, and more on that in a minute), only to be immediately embroiled in a kidnapping/art heist which takes them to Brazil. There’s a priceless statue, a heist, a lot of dialogue that I’m not sure makes much more sense in French than it does in English, a fair amount of rolling around on the beach, automobile, plane, and boat chases, and occasional exuberant dance parties with the locals set to the infectious samba beat that plays throughout. The whole thing, beautifully shot by Philippe de Broca on location in Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, will make you want to move to the beach, post-haste—bad guys in hot pursuit or not. (Not beach-bound? Even better: The flick is fully gorgeous, escapist fun.)
But when it comes to Miss Dorléac—Catherine Deneuve’s impossibly elegant and sadly ill-fated older sister—the intentionally absurd film becomes something altogether instructive. From our first view of her zany, gamine character, prim and buttoned-up at home in Paris, impeccably attired in a chignon and trim sheath dress, to her later repeated abductions (and the aforementioned beach rolling) in Rio, it’s an education in summer style. Sure, she didn’t have time to pack (the abduction, after all), but what better example could we have for going from the city streets to the seaside? Soon Dorléac is sporting a jaunty straw hat, peeling off her frock for a swim, and enjoying the local color. And you thought your commute to the beach was tough. Watch the movie this weekend (it was beautifully restored and re-released on Blu-Ray and DVD this past April) and reap the style inspiration for weeks: You’re officially out of excuses to be bored by your summer wardrobe.