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Monday, November 23, 2015

Mayerling (1968)

In 1880s Austria, the Crown Prince (Omar Sharif) is not only stuck in an unhappy marriage of state but he opposes his father's, the Emperor Franz Joseph (James Mason), repressive political nature. When he falls in love with a young Baroness (Catherine Deneuve), it becomes a scandal. This is not a remake of the 1936 Anatole Litvak film on the same subject but based on other source materials. As a film, it's a real piece of eye candy, gorgeously shot by Henri Alekan (Cocteau's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) making exquisite use of its Austrian and Italian locations. But for a film whose center is a story of forbidden love, it lacks passion. Sharif and Deneuve (has there ever been a more gorgeous movie couple?) moon over each other but there's no fire in their performances to indicate that this is a love worth dying for. The movie eventually collapses under the weight of its own pretensions. The underscore is credited to Francis Lai (A MAN AND A WOMAN), a composer certainly capable of writing a romantic underscore but instead we're given large doses of Aram Khachaturyan compositions that weigh the movie down. This is a movie to look at, not listen to. Directed by Terence Young (THUNDERBALL). With Ava Gardner (looking beautiful) as Empress Elizabeth, Genevieve Page, James Robertson Justice, Veronique Vendell and Andrea Parisy. 

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