An actress, her married ex-lover, her current lover's wife and other guests gather at a circa-1900 estate.An actress, her married ex-lover, her current lover's wife and other guests gather at a circa-1900 estate.An actress, her married ex-lover, her current lover's wife and other guests gather at a circa-1900 estate.
One of the Worst Screen Adaptations of one of Broadway's Best Musicals...
The turgid screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's 1973 masterpiece A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC is probably in the top five of worst adaptations of Broadway musical to the motion picture screen. The musical, based on the Ingmar Bergman film SMILES OF SUMMER NIGHT, follows the revolving lives of three couples who clearly at the beginning are mismatched and how they end up being with their soulmates by the end of the film. Elizabeth Taylor, looking fat and tired, sleepwalks her way through the film and enough has been said about her singing so I won't even go there. Director Hal Prince did have the sense to hire Len Cariou and Laurence Guittard to repeat their stage roles Freidrich and the Count, who both think they are in love with Desiree, but even these two charismatic actors come off as stilted. Lesley Ann-Downe is a lovely woman but she just looked way too old to be playing Freidrich's young wife, Anne, who in the original script, was 18. The only completely satisfying performance in the film is by Diana Rigg as the Countess, who brings so much more to the role than the screenplay allows and also surprisingly gives the film its loveliest musical moment with her rendition of "Every Day a Little Death." Speaking of music, I found it interesting that Prince felt the need to completely overhaul one of the most beautiful musical scores ever written for the stage. Hermione Gingold's role as Desiree's mother is reduced to a glorified cameo since they chose to cut her song, "Liasons". The Count also has a gorgeous solo in the show called "In Praise of Women" which was also cut. The song "The Glamorous Life" was rethought and became a solo for Desiree's daughter, Fredrika, charmingly played by Chloe Franks. They also cut "The Miller's Son" a powerhouse of a song sung by Petra, the maid. I could go on ad nauseum about what's wrong with this movie, but that would be pointless. I just cannot fathom how Hal Prince so horrifically screwed up the screen version of a musical HE directed on Broadway. In an eggshell, the only reason to see this film is if you live for Diana Rigg.
- Dec 16, 2005
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