ulicknormanowen

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La bestia uccide a sangue freddo
(1971)

The beauties and the beast.
Some people think that gore plus sex ,and presto !you've got a great giallo. It's Fernando di Leo's wish,but it's Dario Argento 's reality ;the latter 's success is also due to his labyrinthine fascinating screenplays and to his science of lighting effects .

Here it's soft porn masquerading as whodunit thriller; the erotic scenes ,including nymphomaniac Margaret Lee offering her terrific body to the gardener ,then to the (male ) nurses , a masseuse initiating her patient to sapphic pleasures , nudity galore , you name it ,it's 80% of the film..

Badly acted (long -haired Klaus Kinski is wasted ,who could believe he's a psychiatrist?), with a detective trick used by Ellery Queen ,Agatha Christie and others many times before ; and an absolutely horrible finale : the police are here ,though.....What are they doing?

L'homme voilé
(1987)

The veiled man.
"Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) treats people where the need is greatest. We are an international medical humanitarian organisation. We help people threatened by violence, neglect, natural disasters, epidemics and health emergencies"

Pierre is one of them ;he's back from Lebanon where he was confronted to the horror of the massacre of children of a village ; he has accepted to kill Kamal , responsible for this genocide and who hides in Paris .

But Pierre's daughter , Claire ,meets the terrorist and falls for him .

Bernard Giraudeau was one of the best French actors and he's deeply moving when he tells his awful memories to his daughter :no flashbacks, all his suggested,but the actor's tormented face tells it all .

But in spite of the high rating ,the movie is confused , often verging on melodrama (the Claire/Kamal love affair) and the stakes remain vague ;even Giraudeau's character succumbs to the usual cliché of the divorced man (who leaves for Lebanon to give a new meaning to his life?his motives are not clear ,in spite of the principal's talent)

The film suffers from heavy-handed symbolism : the quarters of mean which comes back several times .The ending is too facile ,the easy way out.

On the other hand ,Paris almost becomes an oriental town thanks to music, oriental dances, hammam, haunting night scenes ...

Cry Vengeance
(1954)

The right side
With an obvious lack of means ,actor Mark Stevens reveals himself a very good director ;set in Alaska ,the movie takes advantage of the splendid landscapes and even of the natives ' philosophy and wisdom (told by Martha Hyer ,rarely better).

This trite story of an ex-convict seeking revenge is given an effective treatment :the actor/director himself is excellent : he never cracks a smile, his cold face and his piercing eyes give the jitters ;he's determined to kill, even though it involves a child .

One only sees his "right" side in the first sequence .

The hero is a two-faced man,in every sense of the word :it takes all a little girl's tenderness and natural goodness to make him reveal his true colors ; the young actress ,never bland ,always moving,is superbly directed ;children are often difficult to handle without falling into the trap of sentimentality ,but Stevens brilliantly directed her : the scene when he tucks her in bed climaxes the film .As for the rest of the cast ,they rise to the occasion.

L'aventure des Marguerite
(2020)

Back to the future (and to the past)
Aimed at the children's market , "l'aventure des Marguerite " borrows a lot from other works , such as "pleasant ville" and countless others ; it suffers accordingly.

That said, can it appeal to a young audience? Perhaps so,but only partially : the part taking place during the occupation is ,in spite of numerous implausibilities, by far the best .

The modern Marguerite hints at "la grande vadrouille" and the occupied France is as accurate and as plausible as Gérard Oury's world. The exodus , when the French were running away from the German armies took place two years before (and not in 1942);Hemingway was not in France at the time ,he fought in Spain and came back at the end of WW2.

But if you forget history ,this half is pleasant enough: it's like a fairytale ,after all , as the trick of the trunk shows :so why wouldn't Marguerite help Ernest Hemingway work on "the old man and the sea"? As the resistant fighters networks were top secret , talking about them in a loud voice in a café is comic indeed. The escape from the detention camp takes the biscuit : dad is discouraged , waiting,waiting , but girlie comes to cheer him up ,and voilà! A plane pursued by an officer whose shots are in vain (an escape which recalls "la grande vadrouille")

On the other hand, the part in modern times is ponderous and even crude (the burps competition) : with the bland long-haired boy ,who seems himself an anachronism (he looks like a seventies kid), it's really derivative (the girl whose father has left home and is replaced by a surly stepdad ) .Only the meeting with the old lady (played by Genevieve Casile ,essentially a stage actress who performed all the classics) ,a trick used often before (Ellen Burstyn in "interstellar",Teresa Wright in "somewhere in time" ) , makes up for the paucity of this half-screenplay.

Half a pleasant movie ,you make it on the percentages ,but lose out on the bonuses : but on a rainy day,it's always useful.

Den man älskar
(2007)

Is the love of a good man enough?
Conjugal violence has often been treated in the movies; the Hollywoodian style of "sleeping with my enemy" starring Julia Roberts and " enough" starring Jennifer Lopez were not that much convincing ,gambling on the show and on turning the viewer into a voyeur .

"Den man älskar" avoids this trap : all one sees is photographs of the beaten wife taken at the hospital ,and the bedridden victim .

Anti-Hollywoodian to the core, the film may turn off some viewers ; after she's found comfort and true love again with another good man, the heroine ,helped by the police,keeps her torturer at bay ...for a while ...

But ,relatively speaking, the heroine looks sometimes like Charlotte Rampling in "portiere di notti" (Liliana Cavani , 1973) : a former prisoner of a concentration camp fascinated by her nazi hangman (Dirk Bogarde) she meets again in Vienna ,sexually attracted to him .

That's what happens to the heroine:in spite of her new husband's love and affection , she cannot help but being slowly but inexorably attracted by her former flame ;this may infuriate some viewers , in spite of the "moral" ending -perhaps imposed by the producers- The viewer does not leave the movie unharmed : he feels as uneasy as the bewildered husband walking in the graveyard ; the movie is a long flashback .

The question is : is it really a plea against beaten wives? Although interesting ,for that matter, the movie remains an ambiguous statement.

Never Forget
(2008)

Don't go by appearances
Another story of amnesia ,but the first part is interesting ,because there are only two characters on the screen ,lost in a forest ;Lou Diamond Phillips looks like a victim of tragic circumstances and Kris H. Reid the bad boy who keeps him at bay with his gun ;when they meet a dying cop, the victim shows more humanity and urges his enemy to put an and to his suffering .

Little by little , visions come back to haunt the amnesiac : a woman's face ,his wife? ;then horrible pictures of a massacre .

There are plot holes :what's the point of involving a second couple? The end (with the obligatory unexpected twist) does not give any explanation.

No masterpiece ,but short, dense ,and gripping .Violence kept to the minimum .

September Affair
(1950)

Viaggio in Italia
In "September affair ",the real star is Italy :we are taken to a guided tour of Pompey (it was made before Rossellini 's "viaggio in Italia " starring Bergman and Sanders) , of Capri ,of Florence (so there are two David :Cotten's and Michelangelo's); what a pity it was not filmed in color :it would have been a feast for the eye,mainly the first part.

As for the story itself,it 's part soap opera ,part valid drama ; Dieterle is here on Douglas Sirk 's territory but less efficient than him in melos .The excellent cast is the main asset of a rather derivative screenplay , using hackneyed tricks (the plane crash) .Cotten is true to himself ,as good as a romantic man subject to the middle-age lust as he was the terrific wicked uncle in " shadow of a doubt" or the unfortunate deceived husband in "beyond the forest " ; Fontaine has always been the dainty heroine ,frail and coy ,but who hides a genuine strength under her angel face ("Rebecca" "suspicion" "letter from an unknown woman") ;and the French audience will be thrilled about Françoise Rosay's presence , an actress who played with the best French directors (Feyder ,Carné,Duvivier) and who played opposite both sisters (Joan in this movie, Olivia in "that lady") ;so did Cotten (see "hush hush sweet Charlotte ")

The title is well-chosen ;September is the end of Summer and indicates a new phase in someone's life ;Sinatra had an album called " September of my years" .Music plays a prominent part from Italian bel canto to American songs to classic music grand finale ;it recalls sometimes Borzage's "I've always loved you" (1946)

L'ultimo paradiso
(2021)

True love never dies
A good chronicle of life in Italy of the fifties ; both lovers take a rebel stand :Ciccio fights for a better life ,seeing the bourgeois merchant making three times more money than him without lifting a finger ;he epitomizes social justice,hope for the future ;Bianca ,in her way ,is as revolutionary as he is: to be an adultress at a time and at a place women were born to be mothers and housewives is certainly daring.

Making his hero disappear halfway through the movie may puzzle the viewer ; the flashbacks are astute and sometimes look supernatural .

On the other hand ,Charles Trénet's " que reste-t-il de nos amours?" does not fit the movie: if you understand the words ,it's too French to be included in an Italian movie."Les p'tits villages français " do not look like the Italian ones.

Last Knights
(2015)

The night of the Knights.
This is a better movie than I expected;the action scenes are not too numerous and the characters are not cardboard : three stand-outs : Morgan Freeman ,true to himself, admirable in his dignity and in his sense of justice and honor ; Clive Owen ,who gives a conventional hero substance ,particularly when he has to execute the terrible sentence;and Aksel Hennie , as the minister whose master is a puppet on his strings : a contemptuous coward (scene of the gift he gives to his dog) , who's afraid of being slain and who demands more than half of the guard for his protection .

The ending may puzzle you; the last two scenes might have been reversed ;or is it another "An occurence at owl creek bridge " (part of Robert Enrico 's "au coeur de la vie "(1962) and included in "the twilight zone"series ) trick? Which was also used in "gladiator" .

Winnetou - 2. Teil
(1964)

Winnetou 's first unhappy love affair.
The cast is as cosmopolitan as it can be : German (Dor,the director's wife , Kinski) ,French (Brice) ,English (Steele) ,Italian (Massimo Girotti aka Terence Hill) ,American (Barker), .....

But this is not my favorite Winnetou:Hugo Fregonese did a better job with "old shatterhand "even though the principal's role is reduced to his well-known philosophy ;"old shatterhand " had a better screenplay and a much more effective directing .

There are shades of "broken arrow " in it ,and too many plotholes ; the love of Lieutenant Merrill is a fait accompli; out of the blue ,he decides to marry the beautiful Indian ,and the father and Suzanne (his sister? ) accept it without a moment's hesitation ; this kind of marriage is common in westerns since "broken arrow",but they often meet a bad end (Delmer Daves ' film) or are strongly disapproved by the daddy ("gunman's walk" )

Gallic Pierre Brice is true to himself as the Indian Gandhi ; peace is the key to everything in his philosophy and his words of wisdom always make sense;he's ready to give it all to preserve it,even though he must sacrifice his love for Ribanna ;but ,a bachelor , he will be able to follow his paleface brother in further adventures; the comic relief and his six-dollar-hat are not very funny. Kinski makes up for it as the baddie: but , his count-the-steps trick is far-fetched .

Mort d'un pourri
(1977)

The fateful diary.
Delon producer obviously wanted to match the scale, quality (and commercial success) of René Clément's "plein soleil " aka "purple noon" :he hired the same cameraman ,Henri Decae ,who used the same treatment of color in the cast and credits as in the 1959 work ; he hired Maurice Ronet ( called Philippe as in "plein soleil" ) ;it was actually the third time they had worked together (see also "la piscine") but unfortunately Ronet is only supporting ,which is too bad ,for the pair proved a winning team .

There the comparison ends : "plein soleil" was a psychological thriller (and a masterpiece) whereas "mort d'un pourri" is a political one (and an OK movie); certainly influenced by the American political thrillers, one must note that the genre was thriving in France of the seventies : "le juge Fayard dit le, shériff" (Boisset) "Adieu Poulet " ( Granier -Deferre) or "défense de savoir" (Nadine Trintignant);Lautner actually jumped on the bandwagon.

Action -packed ,nicely filmed (Decae outdoes himself in the night scenes ) ,with a stellar cast : apart from the efficient pair I mention above , Klaus Kinski is cynical and disturbing. Jean-Bouise and Michel Aumont portray both sides of the police .By and large ,the female cast is wasted: Audran I love in Chabrol's movies seems self-conscious,Ornella Muti is decorative , and Mireille Darc' s role is pointless.

"mort d'un pourri" depicts a corrupt political world where politicians are vile rogues,preys for blackmailers; the politics remain vague, avoiding to take sides , the assassin and his henchmen are puppets in the hands of powerful men who stay in the wings ; the last picture is revealing :a big shadow of Delon seems to protect the city,after singlehandedly defeating the bad guys .Only pure manly friendship survives in this river of dirt : although Philippe degraded himself in politics, he remains a brother in arms in the colonial wars .

Hostile Guns
(1967)

A pleasant out of time western.
This movie shows how efficient Hunter was at westerns :you should try and watch "these burning hills" and mainly the brilliant "gunman's walk " ,probably the best role in his career;here he effortlessly outstrips the johnny-one-note Montgomery .As for De Carlo ,she's too made up ,too glamour ,dressed up as though she were going to a ball : how could you believe she's a prisoner en route to jail ?

The Montgomery /Hunter rivalry is predictable but not too much cardboard ;the latter is sexually attracted to her but he feels she has been mistreated by her brutal husband as he was by his wicked stingy uncle ; the supporting characters are colorful : Leo Gordon is a convincing bad guy named "Pleasant" (sic) ; RC Crawford is an opportunist politician and Pedro Gonzalès provides the movie with its welcome comic relief:"I want to go to jail to lean cooking to be able to work in town afterwards"

Not a great western,which actually belongs to the precedent decade ,but never dull.

They Made Me a Killer
(1946)

Innocent victim of a blind justice ...
An innocent victim of blind justice,before Dr Richard Kimble ; Tom,who's just lost his brother ,wants a new career in a new town. He has just arrived all of five minutes when he's involved in a bank hold-up and accused of murder ;then he becomes .... a fugitive ;the best scenes are to be found in the beginning :the hard judge has no pity on the new kid in town ;the witness who could clear his name is dying; then he escapes and disguises himself in a medical students and hides in an operating room like Harrison Ford would do in the theatrically-released movie ,but he was a real doctor!

The rest is full of implausibilities:the girl believes the boy-who-might-be-a -criminal illico ,and the scenes with mom and sons in the restaurant are not fully exploited ;unfortunately for them the two cops (and guests of the place) are always at the right place at the right moment :the juke-box trick is far-fetched ;the warden's heart attack is another coincidence too good to be true.

The Wrong Road
(1937)

The straight and narrow to happiness.
The picture during the cast and credits tells the whole story: look out ,kids, don't take the wrong way, follow the straight and narrow ,the shortcuts lead to ruin; in a nutshell ,it's an edifying preachy movie probably made to be shown in Sunday schools .

Both heroes are immature ,naive and gullible :how could they believe that they would retrieve their money (which they earned ,insists the boy),that they would not be followed ?

The heroes' naiveté has something endearing ;they are like big children still believing in Santa Claus ;the girl seems more sensible but the boy hangs up to his dream;Richard Cromwell 's boyish look in a tailor made part: he who called Mary Dressler 'Beauty " in "Emma "(1932) and was the rookie who was doublecrossed by a temptress and "so satisfyingly tortured in "Lives of a Bengal Lancer".(Gore Vidal). He epitomizes the impulsive mindless young man and he does it with panache.

The scene of the auction sale where the lovers try to get back the music box is certainly the best.

Fortune Is a Woman
(1957)

So don't play with me, cause you're playing with fire
A good thriller which features Jack Hawkins investigating in a fire which involves a former love (the gorgeous Arlene Dahl ) who married the owner of a desirable mansion who deals with shady business (he would be broke ,and he would sell his paintings he replaces with fakes ).

After a (criminal) fire, the investigator thinks he might have fallen for a femme fatale ( there's a brief shot of a smiling Dahl after the fire when Hawkins is still unconscious:short by impressive ) ; and there are shades of the French classic "les diaboliques" (1955) : is the husband who's supposed to have perished in the fire really dead? And an unexpected ending ,as far the whodunit is concerned.

Ferdinand le noceur
(1935)

A faithful hubby for my dearest daughter!
At the time many French movies were based on plays for what they were worth ; most of them were "theatre de boulevard" .

This one has a good,nay cynical premise: because he would cheat on his wife , a pharmaceutical industry boss does not want his beloved daughter to suffer from a fickle husband ; so he chooses for her a very virtuous gent , who would never have sex before the marriage,even though he is not the handsome prince charming who makes the romantic girls dream .

The chosen one is one of his employees whose research has not been fruitful so far .There are good scenes ,notably that in the brothel where the naive lad thinks he is in a hotel :"how nice these mirrored walls " ; the gag about beer is welcome too; but it's hard to swallow that Fernandel -reluctantly-becomes a ladykiller overnight .

Anyway ,the director's role is close to zero in this kind of coarse comedy : they would rely on the actors and here the cast is first-class:not only Fernandel ,but also Alerme as the hypocrit boss, the Oudart/Carton brother-and-sister act , Paulette Dubost as the ingenue and Jane Marken as the nymphomaniac housewife ;you can spot Suzy Delair in a small role of a prostitute.

Not much food for thought,but some funny moments.

The Unseen
(1945)

The innocents
Lewis Allen brilliantly succeeded in his fantasy and horror movie "the uninvited" which avoided the paraphernalia of the genre: the threats were suggested, the ghosts were never shown ;the atmosphere,the noises created anguish , and it paved a reliable way to superior works such as Wise' s 'the haunting" (1963)

"the unseen " is more of the same ,but it's less successful ; there's similarities with Henry James ' "turn of the screw " tranferred to the screen by Jack Clayton as "the innocents" (1961) starring Deborah Kerr ,the children are not unlike Miles and Flora.

"The unseen" creates a disturbing atmosphere (helped by Gail Russell's superb eyes ) but the screenplay drags on and the denouement is finally rather disappointing ,considering the good ideas which promised more : the little girl's scrapbook with fairy tales (Snowwhite) pictures which ,unexpectedly,contains a news item depicting a murder in the house next door .

The fans of the unfortunate Russell would not want to miss this one, but they should see "the night has a thousand eyes" (1948),based on a William Irish novel,where her eyes match the stars in the dark night.

Old Shatterhand
(1964)

Broken arrow .
Born in Brest,Britanny ,and recently deceased,Pierre Brice is a French actor who is virtually unknown in his native country whereas he is considered an icon in Germany;He used to live in Garmish-Partenkirschen , a splendid town in the mountain ,where you can see his house.

Hugo Fregonese ,who worked in Argentina ,America ,England ,and here in Germany enjoyed a good reputation ;his work here is effective, notably in the attack of the farm ,treated with a remarkable economy of means (one only sees a little boy in the house), in the somber scenes :the colonel lying in a room of the fort,and the finale ,which avoids the obligatory happy end .The cinematography is luminous and attractive .

In this second part,Winnetou takes a back seat to his paleface brother Shatterhand ;apart from the single combat ,he keeps a low profile, playing the part of the wise man, the pacifist ,urging his people to smoke the pipes of peace; Shatterhand has the active part , and it's funny to see him pit against baddie officer Bradley; in "il boia di venezia " , Lex Barker (the brave good guy) already played opposite Guy Madison (the calculating villain). On the other hand, Paloma (polyglot Daliah Lavi) is a character who does not bring much to the plot .

Not a western masterpiece, but an entertaining one ,with never a dull moment.

The Great Flamarion
(1945)

Flamarion's last show.
Erich Von Stroheim was cast in a role he often played in his French career ("la foire aux chimères" " danse macabre"): the frustrated male, cheated ,ridiculed, humiliated .And wasn' t it humiliating to cast a great former director as Gloria Swanson's servant in Wilder's masterpiece "Sunset Blvd"?

The movie is a long flashback after the tragedy occured :it's a bit implausible ,for Flamarion is dying ,he can hardly speak , "the police would arrive to late (they are in the theater though)" but he is able to tell his whole story ,warts and all,in a clear and distinct voice.

But it's only a detail ; the sharp shooter act on stage is dazzling , astutely using the love triangle ; the fact that the heroine (Mary Beth Hughes) despises both her barfly husband (Dan Duryea)and her suitor shows that life and stage ,it's the same illusion , like the mirrors ..

This Was a Woman
(1948)

Mommie dearest
Sylvia Russel is akin to Harriet Craig ,one of Joan Crawford's triumphs (1950) ; and Sonia Dresdel's impressive performance compares favorably with her American colleague's.

Sylvia is even more terrifying than Harriet: if eyes could kill ,hers certainly would."Mother's always watching us, her eyes are X rays ". She's a monster , a mentally-ill person , a frustrated woman who hates mediocrity (represented by her meek husband's world which consists of his dog and his roses),who wants power and uses the others as puppets .

She's got everything to live a comfortable bourgeois life: her son and her son-in-law are both doctors .But a routine life does not satisfy her ,the coming of handsome Austin makes her even more destructive .

But it had begun before: a woman asking the vet to put a good old dog to sleep? A mother who warns her daughter against her husband? Who urges her maid to seduce her son-in-law by making her read "lady Chatterley's lover",a book forbidden in the UK till 1960 (an under-the- counter French edition : the novel was first tranferred to the screen by Yves Allégret in 1955 in this country ,but in a chaste way)?

Sylvia gets her kicks by destroying her family's life ; you should see her sweetly smile when she sees her "power" on the others .

This is first-rate film noir ; Sonia Dresdel's piercing eyes (when she watches her sick husband , they will give you the jitters)will haunt you after the viewing .Try to forget them!

Les fauves
(1984)

Tonight is silence in the world as we take our stand down in jungleland.
As though the title (=the wildcats) were not enough, the soundtrack which is heard during the whole cast and credits is made of roarings , to rival the MGM lion.

In spite of an excellent cast of talented actors (Daniel Auteuil ,Philippe Leotard, Jean-François Balmer, Macha Meril ), this bomb bears all the scars of the worst eighties French cinema :aggressive music, flashy pictures, slow motion ,actors left to their own devices and overplaying -one gets the feeling of having never seen them worse than here .

From a trite story of revenge (the stuntman has accidentally killed his girlfriend whose brother was in love with ), the screenwriters wanted to take the audience to a walk (or a drive more like) on the wild side , in the shady threatening night world : incest ,homosexuality , rape,murder and voyeurism are in the film program ; there's even would be poetic touches : flashbacks show the Paradise Lost of childhood ,when brother and sister would fool around .

The supporting cast does not help :singer Florent Pagny as a gay in love with Auteuil , is ridiculous, and Louise Portal brings her strong Quebec accent ;Valérie Mairesse' s affected voice is almost unbearable. And plenty of filler (the wildcats ' dance,the fashion show).

The Voice of Merrill
(1952)

Ghost writer
Today ,the broadcast stories (and series) have become a thing of the past ,but when the TV sets did not exist, they would keep the audience glued to their radio .The subject of the film ( a failed writer trying to appropriate a famous one's works ) has become common today .

It begins as a classic whodunit with the usual suspects , but continues with a love triangle , with a cynical wife (angel face Valérie Hobson turning into a femme fatale) urging her lover (Edward Underdown)to do away with her burdensome husband. Both plots are astutely linked in the last fifteen minutes ,although Hobson 's fate is rather derivative .Directing is not exciting ,but acting is effective ,particularly James Robertson Justice ,a cynical victim ,who knows he is terminally ill ,but who thinks revenge is a dish best eaten cold : I like his directing of stage actors: " don't act like a grizzly bear at the mating season " (and it's an euphemism)

Mille milliards de dollars
(1982)

Les affaires sont les affaires .
With "I comme Icare",Heni Verneuil whose know-how was never called into question became more ambitious ; although handicapped by a thoroughly implausible ending ( an easy way out "I comme Icare " avoided ,and in a stunning way at that) and a cliché used for the umpteenth time : the divorced couple who through danger and trial , ultimately fall in love again .

But all that remains is successful ; the depiction of the schemes used by an American multinational to take over French (among others) industries is a difficult subject , not spectacular at all .Mel Ferrer's genial and cynical speech (which must not exceed two minutes, because" I do not want to bore my audience") reveals,behind the façade of respectability an adamant icy personality ( see how Michel Auclair is fired) , the huge meeting ,around the table looks like a Maffia reunion .

The flashbacks are ,like in "I comme Icare " , smartly introduced ;sometimes it's a "enough is enough" feeling when they turn black and white to describe GTI 's involvement with the Nazis and their ruthless opportunism ,but thanks to the actors , the movie survives the heavy intentions .

The sadly missed Dewaere ,unlike Belmondo in "peur sur la ville" ,never hogs the stage and ,as he is the only main character in the whole movie,he carries it on his shoulders ,without overplaying ; Jeanne Moreau makes her one and only scene count;so do, in their small parts ,Anny Duperey ,Michel Auclair and veteran Fernand Ledoux whose career began in the silent age ; On the other hand ,Caroline Cellier,an excellent actress, is given a cardboard character and cannot do anything with it .

Verneuil was always despised by the highbrows ; but his best works must be restored to favor.

I... comme Icare
(1979)

Flying too close to the sun .
Henri Verneuil had been making movie for almost thirty years, always meeting commercial success but not critical accolade ;he's certainly a director whose work needs reassessment :he always showed respect for his audience and never produced anything really mediocre.

Who could have predicted it would come to this ,his most ambitious movie ever? ; hints at the assassination of JFK abound (see the anagrams), and the influence of "the Manchourian candidate "(1962)-which was prophetic-can be felt in the first sequences as well as that of "the parallax view" (1973)as far as the psychological experiment which recalls Warren Beatty 's brainwashing .

It was not the first time Verneuil had broached the political movie ("le président" 1960) but here he equals Costa-Gavras, the past master of the genre in France .Montand gives a restrained performance and steps aside in favor of the conspiracy he tries to understand .

The last scene is one of the best finales of the seventies French cinema and Verneuil has no cause to be jealous of the darlings of the French highbrow critics; his cinema has a great quality the so called intellectual artists have not:accessibility .

La fleur d'oranger
(1932)

No room for the bride
During the time of the Crusades, the custom was brought from the East first to Spain , then to France , then to England in the early 1800's. By then, many enchanting legends had spread throughout the continent of maidens entwining fresh orange blossoms into a bridal wreath for their hair.(Victoriana)

Why this title? Because Raymond and Madeleine have been married for one year and papa does not know ; the husband breaks like a little boy when he is face to face with his formidable father ,an adamant judge : one of his ruthless pleas shows no pity for those who "live in sin" .He's proud of his fifty death sentences ,not exactly a nice guy .

When daddy comes to his marital home, Raymond is determined to tell him the truth ,the whole truth and nothing but the truth ; but every time he's about to do so ,something happens and he's so gauche ,so shy and so fearful that he cannot make up his mind to confess his "fault" to big daddy, sulkier than ever. So he makes his unfortunate (and angry) wife out to be his secretary-typist ; as she can't sleep in her home , he sends her to a hotel , where misundertandings and quiproquos await...

Like many directors coming from the silent age , Henri Roussel directed movies based on plays :but when the plays were entertaining,and the actors were irresistible (René Lefèvre was one of the rare comic actors who did not have to overplay to win his audience over ) ,a splendid time is guaranteed for all!

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