29 January 2009 | MGMboy
A Class Act All The Way
The Yellow Rolls Royce is a class act from the opening credits to the last shot. A pure example of the silver age of Hollywood doing what it does best. Great screenplay by Terrance Rattigan, gorgeous cinematography, engaging score, and impeccable direction by Anthony Asquith add up to a glittering fun and at times truly touching film experience.
Interestingly enough both Asquith and Rattigan teamed up before for a similar all star romp with the Taylor-Burton film "The VIPS" another story of intersecting lives brought together by a mode of transportation. In "The VIPS" it was airplanes and here in this charming film it is a resplendent canary yellow automobile.
To add to this heady cocktail the director has blended in a glittering all star cast of first rate talent from the early 1960's. This is a truly international roster of superstars each of which brings their unique talents and charms to bear on this film.
The story is in three acts encompassing events some years apart all involving the Rolls and how it came into and changed the lives of its various owners. In act one Rex Harrison is superb as being well, nothing less than Rex Harrison. The glamorous Jeanne Moreau shows her depth and considerable strengths as his wandering but loving wife. They sparkle and spark as an aristocratic English couple facing a major turning point in their marriage.
Act two really pops with comic genius flavored with a moving drama as Gangster George C. Scott takes his wisecracking Moll, Shirley MacLaine on a tour of Italy. Scott is revelatory in his roll and is complemented by Art Carney as his loyal and street wise right hand man. MacLaine channels a sharp, witty comic performance that stands with her best of the period. And as the amoral gigolo Stefano who opens her heart to real love and a love of life Alain Delon shines. They make a stunningly beautiful screen couple and by the end of the act they pluck the strings of star crossed romance beautifully.
The luminous Ingrid Bergman teams up with Omar Sharif in a romantic tale set at the outbreak of the invasion of Yugoslavia during World War II. Bergman brings to the film a beauty that is timeless and her star persona which is legendary. She is brittle, vain at first, and funny. But with the aid of freedom fighter Sharif she comes to a new understanding of sacrifice and true humanity amidst the tragedy of war.
And all throughout the films we are treated with spectacular vistas and sights of Europe in a travelogue of breathtaking cinemascope grandeur. The excitement of he Ascot races, the lush seductive beauty of Italy and the rough magnificence of the mountains of Yugoslavia.
"The Yellow Rolls Royce" is much more than a star vehicle, it is the distillation of great film-making in a long gone era that both entertains and inspires the heart of all true romantics.