Who Wants To Kill Jessie?

For all the billions of dollars poured into it, the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t have much to show other than a bunch of bloated CGI effects and really dumb plots and twists stuffed into a 2 hour movie. Which is why it’s so refreshing to go back in time to 1966, the year Adam West invaded American TV sets as Batman, and savor this wonderful debut by the great Master of Czech Film, Václav Vorlícek.

Who Wants To Kill Jesse? is a total madcap romp, a crazy, zany, sexy, goofy farce about a nerdy guy who needs to find an innovative way to lift heavy objects and save his company from going under. His wife happens to be a famous scientist doing cutting-edge research on dreams- she’s invented a way to see them and alter them- but her discovery has a slight problem: objects in dreams seem to find themselves crossing over into real life.

Don’t try to logically explain the science of things in this movie- that’s hardly the point. Instead, bask in its loving embrace of the pulpy comic book form: in this movie, “Who Wants To Kill Jessie?” is a serialized comic about two thugs (a cowboy and an evil superman) trying to capture (and presumably kill) Jessie, the sexy blonde bombshell whose curves are constantly spilling out of her short, skimpy outfit. Sounds like a comic book alright, except these one-dimensional characters become 3D and run amock in the “real” world.

Of course, they’re still comic book characters, so naturally, they can’t speak. Instead, three-dimensional speech bubbles appear in their wake, which others can spin, grab, slap away. It’s visual gags like these that make Jessie a delight to watch; super-fun, super-clever, super-inventive. Vorlícek fashioned an incredible career in his country, gracing the world with gorgeously-crafted films like Three Wishes For Cinderella, which is why this debut is so interesting- even here, early on, the guy knew how to put a great movie together. So many of the special effects are practicals, done live and on set instead of “in post” (or without the use of computers, obviously) that part of the charm is just trying to figure out how they managed to do this or that. It may not have a billion dollar budget, but it does prove that to make great cinema, you don’t really need one.


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