24 August 2006 | Bunuel1976
HIS DAY OF GLORY (Edoardo Bruno, 1969) **
Included on the second disc of PARTNER (1968), this 'underground' film (which actually utilizes outtakes from the Bertolucci film for its pre-credits sequence - when proposed leading man Pierre Clementi proved unavailable due to drug-related problems!) was virtually lost to the ravages of time; still, to be honest, the behind-the-scenes vicissitudes (described in detail by the director himself in an accompanying interview) are more interesting than the film itself!
It's just as politically oriented as PARTNER, if not more, but lacks its visual sophistication (being amateurish in every department) and, while there's an essential plot (with the central discussion among radicals of various persuasions being a direct nod to Godard's LA CHINOISE ), the film is tiresomely didactic for the most part (with a tendency towards discussing Brecht's relevance). Two other notable movies which also contain long sequences of political debate between radical students are Michelangelo Antonioni's ZABRISKIE POINT (1970) and Peter Watkins' PUNISHMENT PARK (1971; which I've recently double-dipped on via Eureka/MoC's R2 SE DVD but have yet to check out the disc) but I certainly don't recall them being as heavy-going and dreary as they were here.
The most engaging performer is Maria Carriho, the female lead - a Portuguese undergoing political exile in Italy who took the subject to heart and eventually became a fully-fledged member of the Parliament of the European Union! The male lead, intended for Tomas Milian after the Clementi debacle, was actually played by his regular stand-in Raul Martinez, albeit rather stiffly. Philippe Leroy, the only professional cast member, is featured in a brief but important role which has a lot to bear on the film's overextended climax (which is still, perhaps, its most inspired moment). Although the supplements on the No Shame disc feature footage of Lou Castel acting in the film, he also did not play the main role eventually but, disappointingly, there is no further elaboration at all on this from the director in his interview. One does learn, however, that HIS DAY OF GLORY was somehow sent to the Berlin Film Festival over an Elio Petri film - presumably A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY (1969), a remarkable psychological horror opus and an altogether superior offering!