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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Elena Et Les Hommes (1956)

An impoverished Polish countess (Ingrid Bergman), now living in Paris, accepts a marriage proposal by a wealthy shoe manufacturer (Pierre Bertin) out of financial necessity. But before the marriage can take place, she catches the eye of both a general (Jean Marais) and a count (Mel Ferrer) who eagerly pursue her. Directed by the great Jean Renoir, this colorful French farce with political overtones should be bubbly and animated. It's certainly not from lack of trying but there's an air of desperation about the whole affair as the actors go through their paces, dashing about with mock indignation. Bergman is delectable, like a ripe peach ready to be devoured but her timing seems off and Marais and Ferrer lack fizz. Some of the supporting players fare better, notably Pierre Richard as the general's orderly and Magali Noel as a sexy maid. Renoir is certainly capable of doing a witty comedy of manners, after all this is the man who directed RULES OF THE GAME but only once does he hit a high note: when a supposedly secret rendezvous at an inn turns into the most public of affairs. The candy coated cinematography by Claude Renoir (Jean's nephew) looks delectable as does the costume designs of Rosine Delamare and Monique Plotin. With Juliette Greco, Dora Doll, Elina Labourdette and Jacques Jouanneau.

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