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Les Cousins (1959) - French drama from Gaumont and producer-director Claude Chabrol. Provincial young man Charles (Gerard Blain) travels to Paris to stay with his worldly cousin Paul Thomas (Jean-Claude Brialy) while they both attend university. The naive and romantic Charles gets sucked into Paul Thomas's circle of decadent libertine friends, with tragic results. Also featuring Juliette Mayniel, Claude Cerval, Genevieve Cluny, Michele Meritz, Guy Decomble, Corrado Guarducci, and Stephane Audran.

A sort of companion piece to Chabrol's Le Beau Serge (1958) which starred the same two actors. I was a bit disappointed in that one, but I liked this movie more, even if I still have issues with it. Both Brialy and Blain are good, especially Blain as the young man whose romantic ideals are shattered. Chabrol's direction is a bit film-school showy at times, but the moody lighting is evocative. I can't say that Chabrol was really trying to say anything with this movie, as it's more of a character study, but it's worth checking out for fans of French New Wave cinema.   (7/10)

Source: FilmStruck

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Libel (1959)- British/American mystery/drama from MGM and director Anthony Asquith. When a British baronet (Dirk Bogarde) is accused of being an impostor by a former fellow WW2 P.O.W., he sues both the man and the newspaper that printed his allegation, leading to a raucous court hearing during which uncomfortable truths are revealed. Also featuring Olivia de Havilland, Paul Massie, Robert Morley, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Anthony Dawson, Millicent Martin, and Richard Wattis.

Bogarde and de Havilland are both excellent in this talky play adaptation that manages to hold the viewer's attention. I was kept guessing until the final reel as to the outcome, a rarity for me anymore when it comes to mystery elements in a story. I also enjoyed seeing Morley and Hyde-White as dueling barristers. The movie earned an Oscar nomination for Best Sound.   (7/10)

Source: Amazon video

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3 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Les Cousins (1959) - French drama from Gaumont and producer-director Claude Chabrol. Provincial young man Charles (Gerard Blain) travels to Paris to stay with his worldly cousin Paul Thomas (Jean-Claude Brialy) while they both attend university. The naive and romantic Charles gets sucked into Paul Thomas's circle of decadent libertine friends, with tragic results. Also featuring Juliette Mayniel, Claude Cerval, Genevieve Cluny, Michele Meritz, Guy Decomble, Corrado Guarducci, and Stephane Audran.

A sort of companion piece to Chabrol's Le Beau Serge (1958) which starred the same two actors. I was a bit disappointed in that one, but I liked this movie more, even if I still have issues with it. Both Brialy and Blain are good, especially Blain as the young man whose romantic ideals are shattered. Chabrol's direction is a bit film-school showy at times, but the moody lighting is evocative. I can't say that Chabrol was really trying to say anything with this movie, as it's more of a character study, but it's worth checking out for fans of French New Wave cinema.   (7/10)

Source: FilmStruck

MV5BNjNjYzZiMzUtOTUzZi00ZDZjLWExMzgtYzVl

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"Le Beau Serge" (1968) and "Les Cousins" (1969) seem like companion pieces.

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40 minutes ago, kingrat said:

Lawrence, thanks for writing about Les Cousins and Libel, both enjoyable films. I wish there had been an English remake of Les Cousins with Tom Courtenay, Terence Stamp, and Julie Christie.

Yes,  nice write up by Larry (as usual),  on these two films.     TCM has shown both of them and I liked both of  them, especially Les Cousins (as part of my journey to see more French New Way cinema).

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Middle of the Night (1959) - Drama from Columbia Pictures, writer Paddy Chayefsky, and director Delbert Mann. Aging widower Jerry Kingsley (Fredric March) begins a May-December romance with office secretary and divorcee Betty Preisser (Kim Novak). Each of them feels pressure from their friends and family to end the relationship, causing them to examine their lives and what they want out of them. Also featuring Glenda Farrell, Lee Grant, Martin Balsam, Lee Phillips, Jan Norris, Effie Afton, Edith Meiser, Joan Copeland, David Ford, Rudy Bond, Betty Walker, Lee Richardson, and Albert Dekker.

The NYC locations, B&W cinematography, and the duo of Chayefsky-Mann scream "DRAMA", but this wasn't a bore or an endlessly downbeat slog. The film deals with adult material in about as mature a fashion as possible for the time. March is very good as the man dealing with his mortality and waning vitality. I'm still not sold on Novak. In some scenes she's good, in others almost laughably awful, but her character's emotional fragility works to conceal the actresses weaknesses more often than not. There's quite a bit of boundary pushing as far as what was allowed on screen dialogue-wise, but it's never salacious.    (7/10)

Source: TCM

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The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) - Low-budget creature feature from Vanwick Productions and director Irvin Berwick. A grouchy lighthouse keeper (John Harmon) has secretly been feeding a humanoid sea monster for years. When he misses a meal, the creature starts decapitating the nearby townsfolk, which causes some concern. Also featuring Les Tremayne, Jeanne Carmen, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, Pete Dunn, and Frank Arvidson.

This is perfect Saturday morning fare: silly, occasionally stupid, but entertaining. The creature is only teased through most of the film, and isn't fully seen until the last 10 minutes or so. It looks like the Gillman's uglier cousin, and reuses parts of the costumes used in The Mole People and This Island Earth. The acting is all pretty terrible, and the 75 minute film manages to drag in places, but for fans of B (or C) 50's monster movies, this is worth a look.    (5/10)

Source: Olive/Paramount Blu-ray

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Madame Satan (1930) 7/10

Debauchery on a Dirigible with Greta Garbo as Catwoman

This is Cecil B. DeMille's weirdest film, but it is not nearly as bad as film history would have you believe. It was his only musical comedy and it tanked at the box office, but I've always been fond of these early sound curios. Kay Johnson plays Angela Brooks, married to wealthy Bob Brooks (Reginald Denny) who spends his nights partying with his friend Jimmy (Roland Young). Bob "respects" his wife, but his passion goes to his mistress, Trixie (Lillian Roth).

When Angela finds out about Bob's mistress, she goes to have it out with her, and finds that Trixie could care less about being found out, and worse gives away all of her secrets about getting and keeping Bob, feeling that Angela wouldn't know how to use such tips anyways. . Later, Jimmy has a masked ball staged on a dirigible complete with bizarre musical numbers. It is visually interesting, but as with all of the music in this film, the numbers  are completely forgettable. The only thing musically memorable is Lillian Roth doing a couple of numbers. If she hadn't had a tragic life right out of the gate there would have probably never been an Ethel Merman, because Roth would have had Merman's career. She has a spitfire presence and a booming sexy voice.

The men are bidding for dances with the women, with all attention and bidding going to Trixie until a stranger walks in - Madame Satan. She is supposed to be French but she sounds just like Greta Garbo and she is supposed to be dressed like Satan but she looks like Catwoman to me.  In the meantime, the crew is getting concerned because a storm is brewing and threatening the dirigible.

Bob Brooks is a curious character. In spite of the fact that he is cheating on his wife he seems to have strong Puritanical standards for both his wife and his mistress. However, he doesn't mind abandoning Trixie for the promise of bigger better possibilities, even if Trixie is standing right there. Roland Young is always good as the friend with his dry one liners. Even though he has a small part in this film, he is the only one with a semblance of a film career just a few years later.

Recommended for the weirdness of it all, but I admit these early talkies are my weakness and YMMV.

Source:TCM

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16 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Middle of the Night (1959) - Drama from Columbia Pictures, writer Paddy Chayefsky, and director Delbert Mann. Aging widower Jerry Kingsley (Fredric March) begins a May-December romance with office secretary and divorcee Betty Preisser (Kim Novak). Each of them feels pressure from their friends and family to end the relationship, causing them to examine their lives and what they want out of them. Also featuring Glenda Farrell, Lee Grant, Martin Balsam, Lee Phillips, Jan Norris, Effie Afton, Edith Meiser, Joan Copeland, David Ford, Rudy Bond, Betty Walker, Lee Richardson, and Albert Dekker.

The NYC locations, B&W cinematography, and the duo of Chayefsky-Mann scream "DRAMA", but this wasn't a bore or an endlessly downbeat slog. The film deals with adult material in about as mature a fashion as possible for the time. March is very good as the man dealing with his mortality and waning vitality. I'm still not sold on Novak. In some scenes she's good, in others almost laughably awful, but her character's emotional fragility works to conceal the actresses weaknesses more often than not. There's quite a bit of boundary pushing as far as what was allowed on screen dialogue-wise, but it's never salacious.    (7/10)

Source: TCM

middleofthenight.jpg

Excellent review, Lawrence!


Chayefsky's work is always touching and no more so in this film.

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The Naked Road (1959) - Very low-budget crime drama from Simar Productions and writer-director William Martin. A model (Jeanne Rainer) is kidnapped by a crime syndicate which tries to force her into prostitution. She swears that they'll never break her, and a battle of wills commences. Also featuring Ronald Long, Art Koulias, Frances Hammond, Eileen Letchworth, Kent Montroy, Ed Jordon, and Paul Judson.

This very minor effort is statically filmed but reasonably well-acted. The main heavy is played by a Thomas Gomez type, and he's pretty good. I kept expecting this to cross over into exploitation territory, but it never did.   (5/10)

Source: Image/Something Weird DVD

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Odd Obsession (1959) - Japanese drama from Daiei and director Kon Ichikawa. A respected art historian (Ganjiro Nakamura) tries to come up with ways to raise the sexual excitement level in his life in an attempt to thwart the infirmities of old age. This leads to an "odd obsession" concerning his much younger wife (Machiko Kyo), as well as straining his already tense relationship to his grown daughter (Junko Kano). Things are further complicated by young Dr. Kimura (Tatsuya Nakadai) who is treating the old man, as well as being engaged to his daughter, and having an affair with his wife. Also featuring Tanie Kitabayashi, Ichiro Sugai, Mantaro Ushio, and Mayumi Kurata.

The title fits this strange glimpse at psycho-sexual dynamics in a very unconventional household. There's a ripple of subtle, black humor throughout the proceedings, but things are largely played straight and somber. Ichikawa uses some jarring camera and editing techniques that keep the viewer off balance. The performances are all good. Ichikawa continues to be a hard filmmaker for me to pin down, as his films are all over the place, both in style and subject matter.   (7/10)

Source: FilmStruck

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8 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) - Low-budget creature feature from Vanwick Productions and director Irvin Berwick. A grouchy lighthouse keeper (John Harmon) has secretly been feeding a humanoid sea monster for years. When he misses a meal, the creature starts decapitating the nearby townsfolk, which causes some concern. Also featuring Les Tremayne, Jeanne Carmen, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, Pete Dunn, and Frank Arvidson.

 

Jeanne Carmen can't act, but she sure looks good. And at least we're spared Don Sullivan singing.

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Godzilla Raids Again (1955) Retroplex

Inferior (to put it mildly) sequel to the original Godzilla, rarely shown (with good reason), and pretty lousy (an understatement).

A new Godzilla shows up, battling an ankylosaurus. At least this keeps guys in rubber suits employed. Since Tokyo was already reduced to rubble in the first film, the monsters trash Osaka this time around. The filmmakers trot out Takashi Shimura (Dr.Yamane from the first film) and he tells everyone that since the oxygen destroyer no longer exists, Japan is screwed. He then shows clips (without sound) from the first film. A “Godzilla Task Force” is formed. Since I served on many a task force at the university, I can tell you that the ultimate goal of such a committee is to see how many times it can meet without producing any results.

The characters are uninteresting, the special effects horrible, and the film just drags on until there is finally some action at the conclusion. By then, you will wish you had been killed by the first Godzilla.

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8 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) - Low-budget creature feature from Vanwick Productions and director Irvin Berwick. A grouchy lighthouse keeper (John Harmon) has secretly been feeding a humanoid sea monster for years. When he misses a meal, the creature starts decapitating the nearby townsfolk, which causes some concern. Also featuring Les Tremayne, Jeanne Carmen, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, Pete Dunn, and Frank Arvidson.

This is perfect Saturday morning fare: silly, occasionally stupid, but entertaining. The creature is only teased through most of the film, and isn't fully seen until the last 10 minutes or so. It looks like the Gillman's uglier cousin, and reuses parts of the costumes used in The Mole People and This Island Earth. The acting is all pretty terrible, and the 75 minute film manages to drag in places, but for fans of B (or C) 50's monster movies, this is worth a look.    (5/10)

Source: Olive/Paramount Blu-ray

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My favorite film of Irwin Berwick so far is The 7th Commandment (1961) a square John falls for a floozy, gets into an auto accident with her and gets his bell rung and wakes up with amnesia. Apparently getting your bell rung not only gives you amnesia but also turns you, seven years later, into an evangelical faith healer raking in the big bucks. To paraphrase an old Cheech and Chong line Ted used to be f-ed up on women, now as Tad, he is f-ed up on the Lord. Tad is the star attraction billed as "The Orpheus Of The Pulpit". We see Tad, after a typical faith healing session, admonishing to his flock that he doesn't want to hear the clinking of coins in the offering baskets he wants to hear the rustle of green leaves, i.e. folding money.....

Supposedly Berwick claimed his best film was The Street Is My Beat (1966), a as far as I can tell a "lost" Noir about a prostitute.

From IMDb

Irving Berwick was a child prodigy, playing concert piano before the age of ten. Although he never gave up playing privately, his career was to be in films. His first job, in Hollywood, was as a dialogue coach, working under contract at Columbia Studios in the mid- to late 1940s and frequently with William Castle. Berwick was employed at Universal-International throughout much of the 1950s, working often with Jack Arnold on several science-fiction thrillers and westerns, and was dialogue coach on Against All Flags (1952) starring Errol Flynn, who gave him a case of expensive liquor for his services (although Berwick did not drink). During the same time period, he worked (uncredited) on the TV series Topper (1953). In 1958-59 Universal-International laid off many of its employees. Berwick then joined with make-up expert Jack Kevan to form a production company, Vanwick Productions. The company's first picture, The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959), was a deliberate attempt to emulate the success of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Universal supplied equipment and crew members in order to keep them working, even on an independent production. Shot entirely on location at Point Concepcion, California (the lighthouse scenes), and nearby Cayucos (the beach and town scenes), the film featured a monster suit that Kevan created primarily from odds and ends of other monsters used in other Universal Pictures films: The Mole People (1956) (the hands), This Island Earth (1955) (the feet), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) (basic body construction). Kevan gave an entirely original texture and head to the "Piedras Blancas" monster. Ironically, the film was not shot at the real Piedras Blancas (some 50 miles away), since that location was judged not to be as photogenic. The Vanwick team followed that film with The Street Is My Beat (1966), which turned out to be Berwick's favorite film. Like "Piedras Blancas", it featured character actor John Harmon, who appeared in nearly every film Berwick made. Harmon is also the godson of Berwick's son Wayne Berwick (who played the little boy in "Piedras Blancas"). Berwick worked variously as a producer, director and second-unit director on his own and other producers' films throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In the early 1970s he began teaching filmmaking through the UCLA Adult Extension, which he continued for nearly a decade.

 

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8 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) - Low-budget creature feature from Vanwick Productions and director Irvin Berwick. A grouchy lighthouse keeper (John Harmon) has secretly been feeding a humanoid sea monster for years. When he misses a meal, the creature starts decapitating the nearby townsfolk, which causes some concern. Also featuring Les Tremayne, Jeanne Carmen, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, Pete Dunn, and Frank Arvidson.

This is perfect Saturday morning fare: silly, occasionally stupid, but entertaining. The creature is only teased through most of the film, and isn't fully seen until the last 10 minutes or so. It looks like the Gillman's uglier cousin, and reuses parts of the costumes used in The Mole People and This Island Earth. The acting is all pretty terrible, and the 75 minute film manages to drag in places, but for fans of B (or C) 50's monster movies, this is worth a look.    (5/10)

Source: Olive/Paramount Blu-ray

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This movie might stink (and I've never seen it) but this pix of the monster and the severed head is one of my favorites in all of monsterdom.  I've seen it in several horror/SF books and magazines.  Love it!  Thanks!

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On 9/14/2018 at 11:50 AM, LornaHansonForbes said:

AW, SO SWEET! I’m touched.

I evacuated and am staying with family 100 miles inland. Still got power for the moment. 

No cable tho.

Lorna, I didn't know Dark City was in the Carolinas.  I wish you and all our members impacted by Florence best wishes and I hope you all are able to stay safe.

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2 hours ago, ChristineHoard said:

This movie might stink (and I've never seen it) but this pix of the monster and the severed head is one of my favorites in all of monsterdom.  I've seen it in several horror/SF books and magazines.  Love it!  Thanks!

Probably because the mask's fixed expression doesn't make the monster look "fearsome", but more like he's saying "O-kayyy, that didn't work, how do we put this thing back on now?"

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11 hours ago, scsu1975 said:

Godzilla Raids Again (1955) Retroplex

Inferior (to put it mildly) sequel to the original Godzilla, rarely shown (with good reason), and pretty lousy (an understatement).

A new Godzilla shows up, battling an ankylosaurus. At least this keeps guys in rubber suits employed. Since Tokyo was already reduced to rubble in the first film, the monsters trash Osaka this time around. The filmmakers trot out Takashi Shimura (Dr.Yamane from the first film) and he tells everyone that since the oxygen destroyer no longer exists, Japan is screwed. He then shows clips (without sound) from the first film. A “Godzilla Task Force” is formed. Since I served on many a task force at the university, I can tell you that the ultimate goal of such a committee is to see how many times it can meet without producing any results.

The characters are uninteresting, the special effects horrible, and the film just drags on until there is finally some action at the conclusion. By then, you will wish you had been killed by the first Godzilla.

 

That reminds me of one of my favourite cartoons.

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Ya just can't get enough of the rabbit!

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11 hours ago, ChristineHoard said:

Lorna, I didn't know Dark City was in the Carolinas.  I wish you and all our members impacted by Florence best wishes and I hope you all are able to stay safe.

Yup, Wilmington. 

Im lucky tho, I’m 2 hrs up the road, have power- no TCM tho, it’s funny I had a crazy dream last night in the form of a classic black and white movie, But sadly I do not recall any of the specifics.

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Operation Petticoat (1959) - Amusing submarine comedy from Universal and director Blake Edwards. In the Pacific theater of WW2, Lt. Cmdr. Matt Sheridan (Cary Grant) is the captain of broken down submarine named the USS Sea Tiger. Sheridan's new XO, Lt. JG Nicholas Holden (Tony Curtis), proves to be an excellent scrounger of needed parts, but his methods aren't always legal. Things get further complicated when a quintet of nurses are brought aboard for transport, causing mayhem. Also featuring Joan O'Brien, Dina Merrill, Dick Sargent, Arthur O'Connell, Virginia Gregg, Madlyn Rhue, Marion Ross, Gene Evans, Gavin MacLeod, Frankie Darro, and Robert F. Simon.

Edwards manages to make a hybrid military/war comedy and sex farce at the same time, and it works. The performers are all well-cast, despite some trepidation on the matter (Grant thought that he was too old, while O'Brien was a last minute replacement for Tina Louise who objected to all the boob jokes). The big visual gag late in the film is funny, and I liked an extended sequence where Curtis steals a pig and then has to pay recompense for it. This was the last "career prime" Cary Grant movie that I had not seen, having now watched everything that he made from 1936 on. This movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.   (7/10)

Source: Republic VHS

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19 hours ago, TomJH said:

That reminds me of one of my favourite cartoons.

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"Your play, Sam, put down a card."

"All right, don't rush me, Ah'm a-thinkin'!  (beat pause)  And mah head hurts."

On 9/15/2018 at 10:46 PM, scsu1975 said:

Godzilla Raids Again (1955) Retroplex

Inferior (to put it mildly) sequel to the original Godzilla, rarely shown (with good reason), and pretty lousy (an understatement).

Basically, this one was stuck between the doomed Hiroshima metaphor of the first movie, and Ishiro Honda's move to more whimsical, fantastic subplots starting with "Mothra", leaving this one as neither fish nor fowl (nor lizard).  Never mind that it was stuck between the B/W first film and the later "fun" color ones.

It wants to be "Doomed science" continuing the Dr. Serizawa plot of the first movie and doesn't know how, and it wants to be "Lighthearted kaiju fun" and doesn't know how.  Basically, it doesn't seem to know WHAT the heck it's doing, which, as noted, is why the fans rarely look it up outside of completism.

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Moonrise Kingdom -- I like this movie better every time I see it.  It's my favorite Wes Anderson film, although it doesn't get the attention of some of his other works.  I remember that it gotvery good critical reviews, but it doesn't seem to be high on the list when Anderson films are discussed.

I don't always love the sort of stylized presentation Anderson uses, and I sometimes find his movies a bit too self-aware of their own quirkiness.  I actually disliked The Grand Budapest Hotel the first time I saw it (it's growing on me, but slowly).

Perhaps because Moonrise Kingdom is about kids, the absurdist fable style fits better.  It seems natural for kids to play out such a story. The two young principals, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, who were pre-teens when shooting began, are remarkably good, with their deadpan, detached, yet endearing personas.  I find all of the adults, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel (in the very uncharacteristic role of a scoutmaster) and others, hit just the right note of semi-reality, while still being grounded in their characterizations.

And it's a lovely story of young and mature love.

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Our Man in Havana (1959) - Cold War spy comedy-drama from Columbia Pictures, writer Graham Greene, and director Carol Reed. Alec Guinness stars as Jim Wormold, a British vacuum cleaner salesman in pre-revolution Havana. He gets recruited into the British secret service as various factions seek to overthrow or prop up the current corrupt regime. Featuring Maureen O'Hara, Burl Ives, Ernie Kovacs, Noel Coward, Jo Morrow, Gregoire Aslan, Raymond Huntley, Ferdy Mayne, Paul Rogers, Maurice Denham, Karel Stepanek, Jose Prieto, Rachel Roberts, and Ralph Richardson.

The humor is low-key, and much of the film is played straight, and even turns dark at moments. Guinness is restrained in a role that could have been played as broadly farcical. Even Ernie Kovacs, as the chief crooked Cuban military officer on the scene, plays his role with realism. Not everything works, and there are some pacing issues, but the once-in-a-lifetime cast combined with the behind-the-scenes talent make this worth a look.   (7/10)

Source: Amazon video

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The Golden Coach - drama from Jean Renoir set in the early 18th century. A travelling actress finds love with 3 different men and is given an important coach from one of them (a viceroy) that leads to a lot of trouble. This one was pretty good and the technicolor was very beautiful. I liked it and give it a 7/10. One side note is that this one looked dubbed into English but according to the trivia page on IMDB "Jean Renoir actually made three versions of this film simultaneously, with dialogue in English, French and Italian respectively." I wonder how true this is and if the different versions are significantly different. Also then why aren't there different pages for each version like how there are for the Spanish versions of Dracula and Laurel and Hardy? :huh: 

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