Wearing a hideous wig that looks like something that the men in the court of King Joseph in "Amadeus" would wear, Faye Dunaway gives a ridiculously over the top performance in this remake of the classic 1945 Margaret Lockwood film. The film realizes its hideousness from the opening shot of a rotting, hanging dead man having his brains eaten by birds and the shot if a topless woman running out of a barn with "Directed by Michael Winner" covering the woman's breasts. Faye is in the country for the marriage of her good friend which she quickly breaks up, marrying wealthy Denholm Elliott and kissing another man within his view at the reception. Within days, she's a masked bandit, robbing coaches for the heck of it, and taking as many lovers as she can.
It's obvious that the covered face of the bandits is a woman's, and that the wealthy people she robs do not recognize them. Faye finds a rival bandit turned lover in the not so dashing Alan Bates, a decent character actor, but far from lothario material. John Gielgud struggles to keep his dignity among this trashy mess as the very religious old servant, but it's obvious that he's very uncomfortable saying and listening to the hideous dialog of the script. This is just a tacky throwback to period disasters such as "Joseph Andrews" and "Yellowbeard". Dunaway does get laughs, but in all honesty, they are a at her expense. In her early films she was soft as she played at being seductive, but there's a scary masculinity towards her villainous villain, making her scary to imagine in anything that requires the removal of clothes.
Are we supposed to believe that Dunaway is angry at God for taking her mother too soon, hence her determination to kill the religiously obsessed Gielgud who hopes to reform her upon discovering her secret? Shots of secondary characters bare breasts and butts is gratuitous and just crude. Faye overacts in the most absurd manner, and the fact that the script refuses to see the truth about her (even when it's as close as a pillow to their face) makes this just the most asinine script ever written. This is the type of film that makes the audience want to have the Oscar taken back from, and her performance makes "Mommie Dearest" seem subtle. Bad movie fans will have a ball with this. Faye has a ball with the whipping scene, but the audience is the one who ends up scarred.
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