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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Golden Coach (aka Le Carrosse D'Or) (1952)

In 18th century Peru, a small troupe of Italian actors (commedia dell'arte) arrive to perform in the town's first theater. The troupe's leading actress (Anna Magnani) captures the fancy of the country's Viceroy (Duncan Lamont) who gives her the gift of a golden coach, the result of which plays havoc with her personal life and may be his downfall. Based on a play by Prosper Merimee (perhaps best known for his novel CARMEN which Bizet adapted into an opera), the great director Jean Renoir has whipped up a gorgeous mannered comedy photographed in vibrant three strip Technicolor by Claude Renoir, the director's nephew. Looking at the carefully composed images, one can see the apples didn't fall far from the tree (the director being the son of the famed impressionist Pierre Auguste Renoir). The film ruminates on the actor's life and the fine line between the stage and real life. Of course, one can't imagine the film without the potent presence of Anna Magnani who has the ability to switch from comedienne to tragedienne effortlessly and often in the same scene. The movie was filmed in English, French and Italian but the English version was Renoir's preference. The underscore is an adaptation of Antonio Vivaldi's works. With Paul Campbell and Riccardo Rioli.

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