William Klein settled in Europe after serving in World War II and achieved widespread fame as a fashion photographer for Vogue. Ranked 25th on Professional Photographer‘s list of 100 most influential photographers, he directed Who Are You, Polly Magoo?, The Model Couple and several documentaries in addition to this movie, which critic Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote was “conceivably the most anti-American movie ever made.”
Mr. Freedom (John Abbey) works during the day as a beer drinking cop and at night as a government-sanctioned vigilante. He’s called to the Freedom Tower, which houses the military-industrial complex — to meet with Dr. Freedom (Donald Pleasence!) who wants him to go to France and find the killer of Capitaine Formidable and bring France back to the side of capitalism or die trying, as he’s equipped with a nuke that can wipe out the country instead of letting it fall to the Communists.
Mr. Freedom joins forces with Capitaine Formidable’s widow Marie-Madeleine (Delphine Seyrig, who made a film version of the SCUM Manifesto and Be Pretty and Shut Up, a pre-#MeToo 1977 film that featured Shirley MacLaine, Maria Schneider and Jane Fonda and concerned how women were treated within filmmaking), where he learned that their plan had been to run houses of ill repute to gain intelligence, a plan he endorses, as well as forming his own army that will stop Communism in France and build a “white wall of freedom” around the U.S. — decades before red hats and whitewashed fascism came back in fashion.
He also battles the Russian Stalinist Muzhik Man and Chinese Maoist Red China Man — which upset Marxist-Leninist folks at the 1968 Avignon Festival — and gets a secret tranceiver put into his teeth which sends Communist messages into his brain. This leads to the hero — or villain — building a secret base from which his operatives can start attacking Commiunism, which basically means being criminals themselves and causing anti-US demonstrations.
Mr. Freedom goes Kent State and fires a machine gun into a crowd of peaceful protestors, which causes Marie-Madeleine to reveal that she’s a double agent and killed her own husband. Mr. Freedom kills her just as the demonstrators attack his base and kill his followers. Seeing that France neither wants nor deserves American democracy, Freedom activates his bomb, which only kills himself.
Is it any accident that Mr. Freedom is wrapped up in the red, white and blue, plus football pads?
This feels like an indictment of comic book Hollywood four decades before that was even a thing.