Naval Intelligence recruits Kelly and Scotty to retrieve stolen defense plans, with the help of a bumbling Frenchman.
[Location: Hong Kong]
French title: Mon cher Max
Italian title: Crisantemo
Marcel Hillaire (Maximilian de Brouget), John Hoyt (Commander Riddle), Franklin Sui (Charlie), Willard Lee (Wang Loo), Lawrence Ung (Bartender), Michael Sung (Waiter), Richard Lee Sung (Seaman), Anna Shin (Girl), Alicia Li (Chinese Girl)
Edward J. Lasko
6 October 1965
Currently available on DVD
In Hong Kong, top secret defense plans are stolen, and Kelly and Scotty are given the task of recovering them. Their orders are to work with Maximilian Brouget, though they can't imagine why, since Max is a mistake-prone bumbler of the first water. In spite of Max, they track the stolen documents to a junk called the Shanghai Belle. Through a series of mishaps, they must leave Max on board, and return to the Navy -- only to discover that the plans were bogus, and the mission was designed merely to convince the bad guys that they were genuine by trying to get them back,without actually doing so. Recovery, you see, was deemed impossible, as long as Max was involved. Now, though, Kelly and Scotty must return to the Shanghai Belle and rescue the brave if chronically befuddled Max.
We have the success of The Pink Panther (1963) and A Shot in the Dark (1964) to thank -- or blame, depending on your point-of-view -- for this atypical episode. The character of Max Brouget is clearly modeled after Peter Sellers' "Jacques Clouseau", and some of the sight gags were borrowed directly from those films. Kelly and Scotty are the straight men while Marcel Hillaire mugs his way from one pratfall to the next. Despite the highly derivative material, there are some funny scenes. One example is when Hillaire and the guys set off in pursuit of a motor boat filled with bad guys; the only problem is that Hillaire has taken off before the stern line's been cast away, with the result that when the boat reaches the end of the line the entire stern is torn off, and the boat sinks with all hands. It's all very lightweight and silly, and certainly not the direction in which the I Spyers wished to go, but Culp and Cosby salvage the episode with the wry and subtle humor they employ as counterpoise to Hillaire's broad slapstick.