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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)

A Russian countess (Sophia Loren) is one of many stateless Russians living in Hong Kong as a result of the country's political turmoil and revolutions. She stows away in the cabin of an American ambassador (Marlon Brando) on a luxury liner headed for America. Needless to say, complications develop. This was Charlie Chaplin's first film in ten years and eagerly anticipated. When it opened, it was both a critical and commercial failure though it fared somewhat better in Europe. The charge most lodged against it was that it was "out of date" and old fashioned. Well, while still a failure, it plays better today than it did in 1967 as almost fifty years have passed and a 1967 film is now an "old" film. Surprisingly for Chaplin, the film isn't very cinematic at all. With most of the action taking place in a ship's state room, it plays out like a filmed play. Brando can do comedy but he isn't a physical comedian and he's awkward here. Brando and Loren look great together but alas, they have zero chemistry. A failure yes but nowhere near as bad as its reputation would suggest. With Tippi Hedren (the only offer Hitchcock would allow her to accept when she was still under personal contract to him), Margaret Rutherford, Sydney Chaplin, Geraldine Chaplin, Angela Scoular and in the film's best performance, Patrick Cargill.

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