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Sunday, June 29, 2014

La Ronde (1964)

In 1913 Paris, an encounter between a prostitute (Marie Dubois, JULES AND JIM) and a soldier (Claude Giraud) begins a roundelay of lovers that continues until it ends where it began ..... with the prostitute. The soldier seduces a housemaid (Anna Karina) who is seduced by her employer's son (Jean Claude Brialy) who has a dalliance with a married woman (Jane Fonda) whose husband (Maurice Ronet) takes a mistress (Catherine Spaak) who leaves him for a playwright (Bernard Noel) in love with an actress (Francine Berge) who takes a soldier (Jean Sorel) for a lover who wakes up in bed with a prostitute (Dubois) after a night of revelry! The source material, the 1897 play by Arthur Schnitzier, had been done by Max Ophuls in his elegant 1950 film. Here, the director Roger Vadim lacks Ophuls' unabashed romanticism and his attempts to duplicate the elegance is hampered by an often listless execution not helped by Jean Anouilh's (MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT) adaptation. The movie manages some good will starting with the handsome main titles by the great Maurice Binder until the Ronet and Spaak sequence which stumbles and it rapidly slides downhill from there until one sighs from relief that it's finally over. The performances are stylized with only Fonda's kittenish wife standing out. Even the lackluster material can't dim her comedic talent. The graceful lensing is by Henri Decae (THE 400 BLOWS).

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