Directed by Luchino Visconti and starring a stellar cast including Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, and Claudia Cardinale, this Italian film revolves around a Prince and Patriarch during a period of social change in Italy in the 1860s.
His Excellency the Prince of Salina (Lancaster) is a highly respected noble, who lives with his family on a large estate in Sicily. In his own life, the Prince is annoyed with his marriage and perturbed about the company his nephew Tancredi (Delon) is keeping. However, a revolution led by a man named Garibaldi means great change for the nation and finally following the lead of his nephew, who joins the rebel redshirts, the Prince sides with the new way and supports the plebiscites that are set up. His nephew falls for the beautiful daughter (Cardinale) of an aristocrat, and despite the fact that his own daughter has an eye on Tancredi, Don Fabrizo fully supports the marriage knowing it is good for the family. Because of his title and the respect he has garnered, the Prince is offered a position as a senator in the new government. But he courteously turns it down feeling he is too old and too attached to the old ways. Tancredi and Angelica are to be engaged and they are presented together at an extravagant ball. Over the course of the evening, Don Fabrizo has time to talk, dance with the young beauty Angelica, and reflect on his own life. As the lavish evening begins to dwindle the Leopard walks off to clear his head.
In some respects, I saw this as an Italian equivalent to Gone with the Wind, and I could see some precursors to The Godfather here because the Italians portrayed are very religious and chivalrous people who can also be ruthless. However, I think it is fair to say that The Leopard is its own film entirely, and it should be taken as such. Tancredi and Angelica are no Rhett and Scarlett and the Prince is not the Godfather. They are their own unique characters. In my personal opinion, I would recommend the Italian version because that is the way the director meant it to be seen and Lancaster’s normal voice seems out of place in the film. Some may say that this detracts from his performance, but I think his presence and acting ability show through even if he is dubbed.
In a cold open, two storylines are introduced. One man, Vogel, is in custody and is handcuffed to a policeman as they board a train. At the same time, a man named Corey is let out of prison, on good behavior, and he is tipped off on a possible heist job. In both cases, we have little background information to go on. Then, Corey pops in unexpectedly on an old mob boss and forcibly “borrows” some money from the man, who has also stolen his girl. He buys a new car and throws off a couple of thugs who were sent after him. As the morning dawns, the captive on the train makes a daring escape and flees into the nearby forest. Soon roadblocks are set and the manhunt begins. He desperately gets into an open car trunk to hide, ironically it is the same car of the man, who was recently released. However, he was noticed and Corey tells him to get out of his hiding place. Vogel is tense but his cool and collected acquaintance helps him sneak through a checkpoint noting that Paris is his best chance of escape. Corey is chased down once again by Rico’s henchmen, but Vogel sneaks out and comes to his aid. They head to Paris and find a sharpshooter to case the jewelry store and help them with their plan. The police detective is still searching for his quarry, and he tries to enlist the help of a crooked club owner. Meanwhile, the plans are made, and the heist is pulled off with great precision and efficiency. They get away with the jewels smoothly enough. However, the marksman settles to take no part of the plunder, and their initial buyer falls through. Relatively quickly there is a new person interested, so Corey takes the goods to him. Only too late Vogel comes to warn him, and just like that, they must flee the premises with police all around.
Much like Le Samourai this film gives off an extremely cool vibe, and it makes it all the more enjoyable to watch. Alain Delon is such a smooth operator, and whether it is the way he dresses, talks, smokes, or pulls off the heist, it cannot be easily dismissed. However, the other main players give serious and nuanced performances of their own, which cannot be overlooked. Melville makes all of his scenes so interesting, through the setup and the fashion in which his characters go through the world of the film. His characters act in the mode of behavior that they believe is correct and most are rather taciturn and guarded. I cannot decide if I like Le Samourai or Le Cercle Rouge better, but it must be said they are in a special class of crime films.
Delon plays such a delightfully deadly killer with a moral code. In a sense he is a tragic hero we ultimately respect because he lives a life full of solitude and honor as is the code of the samurai. I must admit that I cannot wait to see more Melville or Delon for that matter.
Starring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin, this is a harrowing suspense thriller. The film opens with a man being given a doll by a fearful woman. Little does he know what is inside and there is a thug trying to retrieve it. The man’s blind wife spends most of her time at home with the doll unknowingly in their care. The thug enlists two other incriminated men to help in the elaborate plan. The key is the blind woman and so they get to work by luring her husband away and then gaining her confidence. Through a course of events they hope to scare her into telling where the doll is. She begins to become suspicious but she still does not know where the doll is herself. However, soon it comes into her possession. Night is falling and she is cut off from all outside help. She waits anxiously in her darkened home and when the enraged thug returns Susy fights back the only way she knows how, in a struggle to survive.
Audrey Hepburn is usually a sympathetic figure but when you make her blind the audience worries even more for her safety. The climatic moments are thrilling and they certainly make the viewer uncomfortable. It is questionable if a real blind person would be so trusting or if an actual person would bring home a doll that was handed to them. Aside from that this is an entertaining film and Hepburn was great.
Starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney,this romantic comedy gives a more realistic view of love and marriage. Mark and Joanna have been married about 10 years now and despite their wealth they seem unhappy. The non-linear story relates how they both met each other while vacationing in France. They were young, energetic and in love. The film also covers their travels across France with Mark’s former girlfriend, her analytic husband, and their spoiled daughter. Then, we learn Mark finally got work as an architect. However now with a small daughter, the marriage is dragging and they both have their own affairs. Despite the loss of their original passion, the couple realizes they are in love so Mark quits his job so they can start anew in Rome. This film gives off a sunny 60s vibe with a playful score by Henry Mancini, bright colors, French scenery and of course love. I always enjoy Audrey Hepburn but I also felt Finney did an excellent job playing opposite of her. Most importantly director Stanley Donen may have made a Hollywood style romance, but he made it more recognizably human than most. It does not simply examine the passion alone because there are many aspects of this big, messy experience called love.
Adapted from the play Pygmalion, originally written by George Bernard Shaw, My Fair Lady stars Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. It follows a speech therapist (Harrison) as he tries to win a bet with an old acquaintance that he can pass off a poor flower girl as a duchess. He takes Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn) and begins to train her, not as a person but as an experiment. Eliza eventually gets fed up with this treatment but at the same time also wants to become sophisticated. With Harrison’s help she does become that person and is no longer a subject to be experimented with. This is a role where Hepburn plays completely against her image for most of the film but she does pull it off in the end. Putting together a good cast, plot, and songs, this film is quite good.