• firewatr6 March 2004
    What really happened to this film in the cutting room.
    I worked on An Almost Perfect Affair as a sound editor, and although I don't consider it a "bomb", I have to agree with the majority comments about this film that (1) it really isn't a very satsifying film as is, and (2) the subplot promises to be more interesting...if only it had been better developed.

    Well, more complete subplots were shot and were a larger part of the first fine cut of this film, contributing much humor and warmth to the truly charming little story that was originally intended.

    Actually, there were a couple of subplots:

    (1) The Dick Williams character scheming on the promotion of his own exploitation films which only existed as titles and PR T-shirts, and then switching gears to exploit the novice American filmmaker's (Keith Carradine) own modest first feature film effort, which has temporarily been impounded by French customs red tape. (The hassel with customs was supposedly inspired by George Lucas' novice experiences with French customs when he took his first independent feature, "THX", to the Canne Film Festival.)

    (2) Then there was Raf Vallone's character story line of the commercial film producer who is fearfully in competition at Canne for the first time with an "artistic" film which he prizes highly. Momentarily ignoring his comely younger wife (Monica Vitti) he instead worries obsessively about the possible negative reactions of a powerful American film critic who is also at the festival, going through elaborate maneuvers to hide from her.

    (3) Related to this are the follies caused by his loving but incompetent son (Christian De Sica) as he tries to favorably ingratiate his father's film to the feared critic, only causing her to have a series of increasingly inconvenient and for us hilarious bodily injuries. (The critic character was, I think, loosely based on critic Pauline Kael.) In the original fine cut, the son gratifyingly comes of age when he covers for Monica's ill-advised fling with Carradine, a new maturity on his part which saves the marriage she really doesn't want to give up.

    These subplots, juxtaposed against the delightful romantic fling that Monica...feeling under-appreciated by her husband...enters into with innocent Keith as he waits for the release of his impounded film print... these plot points were all integrated parts of the film that we in the post-production crew loved.

    But, as sometimes happens, some unfortunate decisions evolved to change things during post-production.

    After previewing the fine cut with the temp sound mix, someone close to director Michael Ritchie advised him to "...recut it for love...", basically meaning less screen time for the subplots and wonderful character performances that fleshed-out the story.

    There may have been additional pressures and/or considerations that the post production crew was not privy to, but the unfortunate result was that we grudgingly (in my case, anyway) had to omit much of the subplot material, which reduced much of the original charm and humor of this film. The love story part of it, while perfectly fine, was never scripted or shot to be the structural spine of the film, and the subsequent re-cut pulled the life out it as well.

    There may also have been budget considerations. I think that this independent film was financed on a "negative pickup" deal, part of which means that a finite amount of budget monies are secured for the production company from an investor or investment group, but any fiscal overages are contractually assumed directly by the production company. I remember hearing some talk about shortening the film to save possible post-production overruns. I don't know how much this figured into the decision to recut.

    Whatever the reasons, the result was that a potentially humorous and charming little gem of a film lost it's life, it's audience, and any hope of recouping a decent profit. Ah, if film lovers only know how often this kind of thing happens to hundreds of otherwise good films that have died aborning, there could well be continual sobbing and screams from the loges for years to come.

    And yet, as long as I knew and worked with Michael, he always had great affection for this film. Perhaps he was remembering the film he had originally shot, the sweet little film that only a few of us saw, the film that existed for only a brief, secular moment in the cutting room.

    As films go, this is one of the good ones that got lost...and it's really a shame.
  • Erich-134 November 2000
    When the subplot's more interesting than the story...
    It's usually not a good sign when the supposed subplot of a movie is far more engrossing than the main storyline. Such is the case with "An Almost Perfect Affair," a romantic comedy about the brief encounter of a struggling young independent filmmaker from America (Keith Carradine) and a successful Italian producer's wife (Monica Vitti), set against the backdrop of the Cannes Film Festival. Although Carradine and Vitti do make an appealing couple, their romance is never as interesting as the scenes regarding Carradine's efforts to get his film shown.

    Fortunately, those scenes are entertaining enough to make the movie worth seeing in its own right. Dick Anthony Williams is a scene-stealer as an enthusiastic blaxploitation filmmaker who appoints himself as Carradine's partner and shows him the ropes of marketing, hype, and self-promotion.

    And speaking of self-promotion, another highlight of the film is a brief quasi-documentary interlude (filmed at the Cannes Festival itself as it happened) with notorious sex kitten Edy Williams pitching a self-scripted vehicle for herself. I wonder why that picture never got made...?
  • James Hitchcock24 June 2010
    Only fitfully amusing as a comedy, and lacking depth as anything else
    Warning: Spoilers
    "An Almost Perfect Affair" tells the story of Hal Raymond, an young American independent film director, who travels to the Cannes film festival in order to try and interest distributors in his latest film. While there, he meets and has an affair with Maria, the attractive wife of Federico Barone, a wealthy and successful Italian film producer.

    I was interested in the comments from the reviewer who worked as a sound editor on this film and who states that the original intention was to make it as a satirical comedy about the movie industry. Although we cannot be sure how the film would have turned out if this plan had been adhered to, I can't help thinking that it would have been a better film than the one that was actually made. The best things about the film are the comic characters and episodes- Hal's more materialistic black friend Andrew, who tries to market his film as a "blaxploitation" action thriller, that French bureaucrat who combines exquisite politeness with exquisite uselessness, always more concerned with defending the honour of his nation than with actually doing anything to help anybody, and the scene where Hal successfully puts down a patronising wine waiter.

    Unfortunately, the decision was taken to concentrate more on the romance between Hal and Maria than on the satire. There is an attempt to raise a potentially interesting point about the value of art: can an object, even a work of art on which its creator may have lavished great pains, ever have a greater moral value than a person? The question is raised when Maria, who has seen Hal's film and does not care for it, accuses him of caring more for his film than he does for her. He sees himself as idealistic because he cares more for artistic values than material ones; she regards his idealism as suspect because he cares more for artistic values than human ones.

    As I said, this question is a potentially interesting one, but in the film it becomes less interesting because it is placed in the context of what is only a very shallow, brief romance. Maria is the sort of person who regards extra-marital affairs as a sign of "sophistication", which is a polite way of saying that she will always value her own gratification before the needs of anyone else, be that the needs of her husband or of her lovers. It is always quite clear that Hal is not the love of her life, that their romance is no more than a brief fling and that she has no intention of ever leaving her husband for him. (Hal, also, does not seem in any great hurry to abandon his steady girlfriend Karen for Maria). She cannot therefore complain if Hal values his film, on which he has spent two years of his life, more than he does a relationship which is doomed to fizzle out after a few days.

    One thing I did like about the film was the attractive musical score by Georges Delerue, part Viennese waltz, part romantic piano concerto. Overall, however, I thought that "An Almost Perfect Affair" was not a great success. As a comedy it is only fitfully amusing and as a psychological study or exploration of philosophical issues it lacks depth. 5/10
  • mark2-123 June 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is a disappointing film. We never find out why Monica Vitti suddenly decides to betray her husband nor why Keith Carradine betrays his girlfriend in the United States.

    Raf Vallone portrays a powerful Italian Producer who may be a portrait of Carlo Ponti and/or Dino de Laurentis, but is puzzlingly passive when he discovers that his wife is unfaithful.

    Keith Carradine portrays a man with the emotional maturity of a high school student. It is puzzling that Monica Vitti's character is drawn to him.

    The only character which is drawn in some depth is Monica Vitti, Raf Vallone's wife. She had been very poor as a child, and is afraid of getting fat and losing her money. She says that when she was an actress - she was a bad actress. She tells us that this is the first time she has ever lied to her husband of many years (they also have a teenage daughter).

    Monica Vitti's dialog is the flawed words of an Italian who does not have a large English vocabulary and who has difficulty pronouncing English words - this is charming, but sometimes difficult to understand.
  • Hinda14 January 1999
    My two seconds of fame
    I was in this bomb!! My friends and I were in the concert audience at the Hollywood Bowl when this was being filmed. When I saw the final copy of this film, all that remained of the audience footage was a one-second clip of me and my friend dancing! I'm the fat one in the yellow sweatshirt! But this film is not worth watching just to see MOI...even though that's the best part:)
  • Smalling-26 April 2000
    An Almost Perfect Affair
    A young and idealistic American independent filmmaker falls in love with an Italian producer's worldly wife at the Cannes Film Festival.

    Gently appealing romance with lively detail and locations... but not very interesting, mainly due to the over-familiar and inconsequential plot.
  • peterh-25 May 2001
    Sad to hear of the death of Michael Ritchie
    I, too, was in this bomb; my mother and I were the only people in the theater as it completed its short run here! What a shame that my brief career in Hollywood was in such a poor example of Michael Rithchie's work. But, just having heard of Ritchie's death a couple of weeks ago, I got to thinking how it was one of the most pleasant experiences of my life, just being an extra in one of his movies. Michael Ritchie was not only a talented director, but I can attest to the fact that he was a genuinely fine person as well. I feel immense sadness knowing that he is no longer with us.