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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Puccini (1953)

The life of the great Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (played by Gabriele Ferzetti, L'AVVENTURA), who wrote LA BOHEME and MADAME BUTTERFLY, reduced to cliched sentimental slop. To call it highly fictionalized is an understatement. There doesn't appear to the ring of truth to any of it, just the usual struggling composer cliches. As written and played, this Puccini is an unpleasant, self centered and vain narcissist. Even the opera sequences aren't handled very well. It's the kind of movie where when Puccini sits down at a party to play the piano, suddenly a full unseen orchestra accompanies him on the soundtrack! The rich Technicolor cinematography is by Claude Renoir (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME). The three women in his life are played by the Swedish Marta Toren (SIROCCO) as his long suffering wife, Nadia Gray (LA DOLCE VITA) as his opera diva mistress and Myriam Bru as a servant girl who falls in love with him. Directed by Carmine Gallone. To be fair, the transfer I saw had the reels all out of sequence. We meet Marta Toren as a young girl, the next scene she's an elderly gray haired lady then she's a young girl again! Characters come in as if we're supposed to know them then a half hour later, we're "introduced" to them. Still, there's no indication that the film would have been any better if the reels had been in proper order. If anything, the puzzle of piecing the storyline together probably kept me from dozing off.

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