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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

GOODBYE AGAIN / AIMEZ-VOUS BRAHMS? (1961)

The rapid changes in social mores (ta-ta Hollywood Production Code) & filmmaking styles (hello New Wave) are nicely integrated in Anatole Litvak’s first Paris-based pic after three decades in Hollywood. Handsomely shot on location by Armand Thirard & superbly designed by the legendary Alexandre Trauner, it’s adapted from a very French Fran├žoise Sagan novel. But, crucially, it’s ‘pitched’ just a few degrees too high, with too many actors ‘selling’ their characterizations rather than playing them. This is particularly the case for Anthony Perkins as a rich, spoiled young man who falls hard for an age-conscious Ingrid Bergman.* She’s susceptible though, right in the middle of a crisis with long-time steady Yves Montand who’s constantly playing around with cute young things. Step by step, Litvak keeps putting his foot wrong, but the film, perhaps because of our attachment to Bergman, who at 46 has acquired a tragic beauty that can take your breath away, grows on you, becoming emotionally engaging in spite of itself.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY I: French businessman/politician Dominque Strauss- Kahn could play the Montand character in a remake.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY II: *Perkins' perf may appear too jejune & ridiculous to swallow these days, but it must have played very well at the time since he won Best Actor @ Cannes. Some things go out of fashion . . . but not his smoking little Triumph sports car!

DOUBLE-BILL: Fran├žoise Sagan’s beginner’s luck on her first novel BONJOUR TRISTESSE transferred to its 1958 film adaptation, a masterpiece from Otto Preminger.

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