5 February 2003 | dbdumonteil
One of Georges Lautner's secret intriguing works.
Georges Lautner is far from being an accursed director:his career is full of these comedies "à la française " the likes of "la grande sauterelle", "les tontons flingueurs" "ne nous fâchons pas" which are not exactly what we call artistic ambitions.But there are exceptions: at least three of his works are worthy of investigation:the first one is "le septième juré " in the early sixties ,a mesmerizing study of a bourgeois's psychopathology ,masterfully portrayed by Bernard Blier;in the late eighties ,he made a stunning return to rural melodrama with "la maison assassinée" ,an unfairly overlooked movie.The third one is "la route de Salina".
First of all,the cast is amazing:Rita Hayworth directed by a Froggy!And ,most amazing thing,she portrays a mad woman :it was to be one of her last parts ;soon she was to get Alzheimer's .Robert Walker jr,Jennifer Jones 's son, plays a young man whom she mistakes for her own son;beautiful Mimsy Farmer is his so-called sister,with whom he soon has a love affair.More a psychological drama than a detective story,and despite several steamy love scenes ,it's a rather austere and slow-moving story.
What seems dated today is just that :the hippie side,swimming in the nude (probably inspired by Schroeder's "more" (1969) which features Farmer as well),a soundtrack made up of hip pop music (Jethro Tull 's "bourrée").
But what remains is intriguing,often spellbinding and would deserve a better rating.Lautner succeeded in creating a sultry atmosphere,turning to good account his offbeat cast,including Ed Beagley as a good-natured neighbor.The characters' psychology is more complex than it appears at first sight,particularly Billie's (Farmer).We soon discover she's as crazy as her mother .
The story is told by the hero,and is a long flashback . "La route de Salina" was not really a blockbuster for Lautner who would be soon returning to his favorite "style" ("Il était une fois un flic",1972)