The Black Orchid (1958)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, Romance

The Black Orchid (1958) Poster

Anthony Quinn and Sophia Loren star as longtime widower Frank and recently widowed Rose, lonely hearts who discover something special in The Black Orchid, a sensitive comedy romance directed by Martin Ritt (Norma Rae, Murphy's Romance).


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12 November 2016 | dougdoepke
A De-glamorized Loren
To this point in her American career, Italian actress Loren had starred mainly in big budget, Technicolor productions—e.g. Legend of the Lost, The Pride and the Passion, Boy on a Dolphin, (all 1957). Of course, such a format showed off her ample proportions for that mammary obsessed decade. I suspect this little b&w production was intended to help establish her as more than a sex goddess. And it does.

She's quite good in the de-glamorized role of an embittered working widow, Rose. Despite her resistance, she's being intensely courted by prosperous business man, Frank (Quinn). Trouble is Frank's daughter Mary (Balin), is very possessive of dad and also thinks Rose is undeserving of him. So Mary creates problems that jeopardize not only dad's engagement but also her own—to nice guy Noble (Richman). If this sounds like tangled relationships, it is, especially when Rose's delinquent son (Baird) is added to the mix.

Fortunately, the movie's well acted and directed (Ritt), which helps what turns out to be something of a soap opera. The first part comes across as mainly a character study as the hardened widow Rose fends off Frank's persistent gambits. However, once the relationships begin to spread and conflict, the screenplay takes on a more conventional tone. Also, looks like the movie was shot entirely on the Paramount lot. Thus, I expect they were able to squeeze it into her hectic schedule. Note too how subtly actress Loren expresses emotions with her eyes. That's probably something guys like me never noticed before.

Despite the obscurity in Loren's canon, the film works as an engaging showcase for the two leads, and is not without its moments.

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