Dora Nelson (1939)

  |  Comedy, Drama


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8 September 2006 | Bunuel1976
| DORA NELSON (Mario Soldati, 1940) **1/2
Amiable sophisticated comedy-drama about mistaken identity (following the proved Hollywood formula of the 30s) which I would never have watched had it not turned up on late-night Italian TV preceded by a screening of Otto Preminger's swan song THE HUMAN FACTOR (1979) and followed by a documentary on celebrated Italian film-maker Luchino Visconti!

The plot concerns a haughty former aristocrat who has contrived to become a film diva and her working-class look-alike who cross paths, leading to several delightful complications. Involved in the proceedings are the actress' husband who falls for the commoner when she is asked to impersonate her (for the sake of his daughter's impending marriage) after the actress flees with a Prince (who is nothing but a con-man after her fortune, in league with her first husband who has feigned death in a train accident!). As you can see, it's pretty convoluted - but it's all tied up nicely by the end...except perhaps the fate of the girl's middle-aged suitor who follows the aristocrat all the way to Cannes (with a wisecracking taxi-driver in tow!) thinking her to be unfaithful. It's also interesting for providing a rare behind-the-scenes look at pre-Neo-realist Italian cinema, where such light fare was the order of the day.

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