["Two Cosmonauts by Force"] Film (1965; vt 002 Operazione Luna). IMA Productions. Directed by Lucio Fulci, starring Franco Franchi, Ciccio Ingrassia, Mónica Randall, Linda Sini, María Silva, Elena Sedlak, Emilio Rodriguez, Chiro Bermejo, Ignazio Leone, Enzo Andronico. Written by José Luis Dibildos, Vittorio Metz, and Amedeo Sollazzo, based on a story by Vittorio Metz and Amedeo Sollazzo. 90 minutes. Black and white.
After two Russian cosmonauts, Colonel Paradowsky (Franchi) and Major Borovin (Ingrassia), are launched into space, ground monitors lose all contact with them and they are presumed lost. To cover up the tragedy, a female Russian agent (Sini) running a women's gym in Italy abducts two petty criminals, Franco (Franchi) and Ciccio (Ingrassia), who are identical to the cosmonauts, and the two men are launched into space so that they can return to Earth in the cosmonauts' place. After this occurs, however, the real cosmonauts return, reporting that a meteor had damaged their radio, and when they land, there are a number of comic escapades involving their confused wives, who alternately find themselves in the company of their real husbands and the impostors. Eventually, the authorities establish who the real cosmonauts are, leaving the thieves to resume their criminal careers in Moscow.
The Italian comedy team of Franchi and Ingrassia will remind American viewers of Abbott and Costello, while Franchi's clowning also recalls Jerry Lewis. Their brief Space Flight has some unexpectedly grim aspects, as they observe the skeleton of a dog and a human floating through space and they discover a note advising them to commit suicide. But most of the film is devoted to routine comic business, such as Franchi and Ingrassia attempting to escape the Russians by disguising themselves as women and, later, recurring cases of mistaken identity involving the cosmonauts and the impostors. [GW]