The Madwoman Of Chaillot

1969, Movie, NR, 142 mins

Review

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What a shame to have wasted so much talent on this leaden update of Giraudoux's wonderful play. Anhalt's adaptation set it in the late 1960s, and the whole thing seems to fall flat, perhaps for that reason. In her 37th picture (only her 8th in color) Hepburn appears as a woman living in Paris' Chaillot district whose three best friends (Masina, Leighton, and Evans) all dwell more in their memories than in the present. In a cafe near Hepburn's flat, a conspiratorial meeting is taking place. The plotters think that there is oil beneath the city of Paris and aim to drill for it. Chamberlain is related to one of these international brigands, Pleasence, and he tells Hepburn what's about to transpire. She is so dotty that she's not sure whether Chamberlain is who he says he is or one of her long-dead lovers. The women get together and decide to foil the plan with one of their own. Hepburn approaches the conspirators individually and tells each that oil is beginning to bubble in her basement. Before the men arrive, she and her friends hold a mock trial and sentence the culprits to death. When the men get to her place, Hepburn locks them in her basement. And that, friends, is that. John Huston had been slated to direct the film, and then Forbes stepped in. The movie is lukewarm and lethargic, despite the presence of a host of international stars, including Kaye as the ragpicker who just about steals the show from everyone else. The villains--Brynner, Pleasence, Boyer--and Homolka are little more than cardboard characters, and even the radiant Masina seems sunk in the swamp of heavygoing. The worst sin of all is that this comedy just isn't funny. Gravey, you may recall, once worked in the US, where the studio made him change his name to Gravet. Once he got back to France, he took his real name again. Nice location shots in Paris and the south of France, but they are hardly enough to make this picture worth watching. How did all of these famous movie actors agree to appear in such a movie? Beats us. Maybe because Renoir was filming it. leave a comment

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