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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Breath Of Scandal (1960)

In 1907 Austria, a Princess (Sophia Loren) finds herself attracted to an American aluminum salesman (John Gavin) but that won't stop her from fulfilling her duty and marrying a Crown Prince (Carlo Hinterman). But not if he has anything to say about it and it's American perseverance versus Old European tradition. Based on Ferenc Molnar's play OLYMPIA, this period comedy needs a lighter touch than director Michael Curtiz is able to give it. It's the kind of stuff that Ernest Lubitsch did so well in the 1930s. Reputedly Loren was in a panic over Curtiz's direction (or lack of it) that she had Vittorio De Sica coaching her without Curtiz's knowledge. Alas, Gavin (no surprise) lacks a comic bone in his body and he's his usual wooden self and there's zero chemistry between him and Loren. The film looks fantastic however thanks to Mario Montuori's lensing of the Austrian countryside, Hal Pereira's sumptuous art direction and Hoyningen Huene's gorgeous turn of the century costumes which Loren wears nicely. With Maurice Chevalier, Angela Lansbury (wasted), Isabel Jeans (who gives the film's best performance as Loren's mother) and Milly Vitale.

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