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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Gypsy And The Gentleman (1958)

A titled member of the English aristocracy (Keith Michell) is heavily in debt so he agrees to a loveless marriage to a girl (Clare Austin) with a plentiful dowry. But when he meets a devious gypsy (Melina Mercouri), he abandons all propriety as she drags him to the depths of degradation and moral rot. The title sounds like a Harlequin romance novel but there's no romance in this tale of how passion (it's certainly not love) can drive men or women to evil actions. Mercouri coldly manipulates Michell who is obsessed with her but she herself is enslaved by her gypsy lover (Patrick McGoohan, showing more sex appeal than before or since) who keeps her hanging on as long as she is useful to him. But the aristocrats (which include June Laverick as Michell's sister) are so arrogantly stupid that I took a perverse pleasure in cheering the evil gypsies on. Directed by Joseph Losey from a screenplay by Janet Green (VICTIM), the film is bathed in vibrant colors that echo the Hammer films as does the film's final minutes which would have fit right in with one of their Dracula or Frankenstein movies. The cinematography is by Jack Hildyard (BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI). With Flora Robson, Nigel Green, Laurence Naismith, Mervyn Johns and Helen Haye.

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