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A Dream of Kings (1969)


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{font:Calibri}One of the discoveries from SUTS was A DREAM OF KINGS (1969, Daniel Mann), which is set in Chicago and based on a novel by Harry Mark Petrakis. Anthony Quinn plays a kind of Zorba the Greek-American role: he’s poor, unemployed and a gambler, but remains incurably optimistic, even when his beloved young son develops a fatal illness. All the boy needs is a trip to the ancestral village on the slopes of Mt. Olympus, so his father is determined to raise the money one way or another. This will affect his relationships with his wife (Irene Papas), the widow he wants as his mistress (Inger Stevens, in the last film before her suicide), and his gambling buddies. According to Mann’s widow, this was his favorite among his films.{font}

 

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{font:Calibri}The film has the sludgy look common to its time, lots of brown with green and yellow, but the script and the performances are first-rate. Quinn is perfectly cast, and both Irene Papas and Sam Levene, as one of his cronies, have big scenes which seem gut-wrenchingly real. The drunken and sick Levene says, “If you were not my friend, I would not believe I exist.” The early scene with Quinn in his BVDs (OK, maybe this isn’t a selling point) and an angry Irene Papas is another impressive scene, as is the late scene where Papas finally unloads her frustrations. Maybe it’s because of seeing this film so soon after A GUY NAMED JOE, but I really appreciated the way Quinn takes the supporting role to Levene and Papas in their big moments. This film covers some of the same ground as Cassavetes’ HUSBANDS, but to me A DREAM OF KINGS seems as real as HUSBANDS seems false; I know others feel differently.{font}

 

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{font:Calibri}Daniel Mann is one of the those directors I don’t have a handle on, and I’ve been known to confuse him with Delbert Mann, if not Anthony Mann. I remember thinking ADA was unimaginatively directed, and perhaps also THE ROSE TATTOO. Mann did direct three stars to Best Actress Oscars—Shirley Booth, Anna Magnani, Elizabeth Taylor. Susan Hayward thought he helped her to her best performance in I’LL CRY TOMORROW. I liked ABOUT MRS. LESLIE, thought BUTTERFIELD 8 was much better than expected, and liked the 150-minute miniseries PLAYING FOR TIME (1980), his last film. Because A DREAM OF KINGS is so strong, maybe TCM should explore some of the other recesses of his oeuvre like THE MOUNTAIN ROAD, one of James Stewart’s most obscure films, or JUDITH, one of Sophia Loren’s most obscure films. A DREAM OF KINGS was unfortunate to be released in the 60s, a decade where there was almost no interest in the immigrant experience. In 1969 nothing mattered except young vs. old.{font}

 

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I recorded it and have since watched it. It was good, though often I felt like I was watching Zorba, the Greek transplanted to NYC. All 3 leads were very good (though Quinn could act this type of role in his sleep). Inger does have a brief nude scene........

 

 

I get the 3 Manns mixed up also (Daniel, Anthony and Delbert!)

 

Edited by: Hibi on Sep 5, 2012 2:31 PM

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