Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Remembering Lee Remick

Lee Remick at London's National Film Theatre in 1970.

A FACE IN THE CROWD, an early publicity shot, ANATOMY OF A MURDER.

Lee Remick [1935-1991] is of course fondly remembered as one of hollywood's best and most respected actresses who was a star from the word go, in the same bracket as say Natalie Wood or Joanne Woodward. I was too young to see her debut in Kazan's A FACE IN THE CROWD in '57 but was amazed by it when I finally saw it, its one of the most sensational debuts ever - but I liked her in her following films (when I was about 10 or 11) like THESE THOUSAND HILLS [where she is touching as the 'saloon girl' giving her savings to Don Murray so he can buy his land], THE LONG HOT SUMMER and how sensational she was in Otto's ANATOMY OF A MURDER in 1959. She was good playing Southern girls always fretting about the heat or unreliable men - one I missed (and seems unavailable now) is Tony Richardson's SANCTUARY in '61. One of her best performances was opposite Monty Clift for Kazan again in the very respected WILD RIVER in 1960. I have already written about how much I loved her performance in 1962's DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES where, in that stunning year for female performances, she should have won; her alcoholic here stayed long in the memory; I vividly remember sitting in the cinema aged 16 and loving that scene [below] where she and Jack Lemmon talk on the jetty watching the water, somewhere near the start, before they marry and hit the bottle. She was also marvellous that year in another Blake Edwards film, the tense thriller EXPERIMENT IN TERROR, [as per a recent post here]. She had a Doris Day type role in THE WHEELER DEALERS with James Garner in 1963, there was THE RUNNING MAN with Bates and Harvey, and then another terrific one BABY THE RAIN MUST FALL where she was ideal in this Robert Mulligan film with McQueen and Don Murray. (Below: BUS STOP programme - click to enlarge images).

She moved to London in the late '60s due to her second marriage and appeared in films like LOOT (where she is the hilarious Irish nurse) and A SEVERED HEAD. Her career in American movies may have faltered a bit but Lee was always busy with stage and television. She played in WAIT UNTIL DARK on Broadway and there was also that early Sondheim ANYONE CAN WHISTLE (which did not run long). In London in 1976 she played the Cherie role in a revival of BUS STOP (right, with Keir Dullea as that annoying cowboy). I particularly like her in 1968's NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY where she makes an intresting character out of the standard girlfriend role, and she is also fascinating in HARD CONTRACT with James Coburn in '69.

As well as seeing her on the stage in 1976, I also got to meet her in 1970 [ forty years ago! - it seems like yesterday...] when she appeared at London's National Film Theatre to discuss her career [programme notes, autographed by Lee - click image twice to enlarge text]. (I had 2 tickets for this event in the front row, but my guest could not make it, so Lee asked if she could sit in the spare seat next to me while the clips were being shown and was very friendly). Various other movies followed, including the hit THE OMEN with Gregory Peck, A DELICATE BALANCE and the nice Merchant-Ivory THE EUROPEANS inb 1979. British television beckoned with Henry James' THE AMBASSADORS with Paul Schofield, as Alma in SUMMER AND SMOKE, and THE VISION with Dirk Bogarde - these were shown only once, it would be terrific to be able to see them again... Lee continued very busy with movies, stage and television with lots of those tv movies like THE WOMEN'S ROOM, HAYWIRE, THE GIFT OF LOVE, TOUGHLOVE and another version of THE LETTER. One of her last roles was as Sarah Bernhardt in that remake of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS with Pierce Brosnan. She was also perfect as one of the ensemble in that concert of Sondheim's FOLLIES with Elaine Stritch and Mandy Patimkin; and of course that successful mini-series JENNIE about Lady Randolph Churchill, in 1974, as well as movies with Burton, Bronson, Steiger, Newman etc.

Needless to say its always a pleasure to see Lee in anything; She indeed departed far too young - Jack Lemmon in tribute said she was the best of his co-stars. It was great to see her talking about her career in 1970 when she was very perceptive about stardom. As well as doing BUS STOP she had of course been signed to replace Marilyn Monroe in Fox's SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE back in 1962, which never happened - but she did (touchingly) host a documentary on MM: "Remembering Marilyn" which is a fascinating example of one star commenting on another.

I am taking a vacation now, but when I return more appreciations on: Lilli Palmer, Ingrid Thulin, Alida Valli, Clifton Webb, Jeffrey Hunter, Suzanne Pleshette, Stephen Boyd, Alan Bates, Peter Finch, Laurence Harvey, Charlton Heston, Michael Craig, Fabian, Anita Ekberg, Belinda Lee, Daliah Lavi, Senta Berger, Julie Christie, Sarah Miles, Claire Bloom, Glynis Johns, Flora Robson, Vittorio De Sica, Jacques Demy, Francois Ozon --- and some great nights in the theatre !

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

More discoveries


THE VICTORS. This 1963 anti-war film by Carl Foreman [producer of GUNS OF NAVARONE etc] is a very mixed bag now, but has a sensational cast acting out various episodes showing how war corrupts everyone, victors as well as losers and victims, as it follows the fortunes of a squad who arrive in Southern Italy and move up to occupied Berlin at the climax. There are lots of strong sequences, some a bit over the top such as the execution of a deserter in the winter snow to the accompaniment of a Sinatra christmas song, and the shooting of the dog one soldier had befriended, as the squadron moves on and the dog runs after them ... there is also the mainly deteted sequence of the boy who sleeps with soldiers for money or food. The two main leads are Georges Peppard and Hamilton, one forgets what interesting young actors they were before excess and the perma-tanned life took over. There are also Vince Edwards, Eli Wallach, Maurice Ronet, Michael Callan, Peter Fonda, Robert Mitchum's son and a young Albert Finney for the climax in Germany.
The film was sold on its joblot of prestige European actresses at that interesting time when there was that growing interest in international cinema - so we have Romy Schneider as the young musician corrupted into being a prostitute, shell-shocked French widow Jeanne Moreau, war profiteer Melina Mercouri, lonely Italian wife Rosanno Schiaffino and Elke Sommer and Senta Berger as two sisters enjoying wartime benefits in wartorn Berlin. Something for everyone then!

FOUR IN THE MORNING - The body of a young woman is dragged unceremoniously from the Thames by two river police [above] who have clearly seen it all before. This opening scene is typical of this film's expertly judged realism; a bleak shabby London of frustrations and disappointments - a far cry from all the swinging that was taking place elsewhere. FOUR IN THE MORNING plays like "a L'AVVENTURA of the Docklands" [according to the British Film Institute]. This enigmatic 1965 British film directed by Anthony Simmons is a long-unseen item and would be a useful addition to that "London in the Movies" recent post of mine, as it is set along the Thames as a dark foggy dawn breaks at 4 a.m. Resolutely downbeat it features 3 intertwined story threads: we see the procedure as the body is taken to the mortuary, cleaned and put into storage; then there is the story of the couple [below] who meet by the river once the club where the woman works closes, she is Ann Lynn, a popular British actress of the time on television, sort of an English Monica Vitti type, and he is Brian Phelan and we watch them interact, take a motorboat drive and flirt around each other but both are unwilling to go further or commit; and finally there is the young Judi Dench as the resentful wife left alone with a screaming infant as her husband (Norman Rodway) is out late, also along the river, with his friend Joe Melia (another lost soul). The couple are having problems so the husband is delaying going home as she gets more and more annoyed. This was Dench's first main cinema role and she won a BAFTA for best newcomer! It is though a bit too resolutely downbeat....

AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL - A classic BBC Miss Marple mystery from 1987. I don't usually bother with the plethora of POIROTs and MARPLEs on television, but this one is an exception. I caught it once on television and it stayed in the memory - then it resurfaced this week so I made a point of seeing it again - and it is even more delightful! English comedy actress Joan Hickson was [in the absence of Katie Johnson] the perfect Miss Marple as created by Agatha Christie - Margaret Rutherford somehow seemed all wrong in those early '60s movies and though I revere Geraldine McEwan in MAPP AND LUCIA she is somehow not right for Miss Marple and the series she appeared in were all too convoluted and updated and crammed with guest stars. Julia McKenzie is also a perfect Marple so I am looking forward to seeing more of those. AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL though is perfect in every respect: the hotel, the staff (Miss Gorringe at reception is a delight) and the guests including reliables James Cossins, George Baker and the divine Caroline Blakiston as Bess Sedgwick, exactly as in the book. There is also the pleasure of seeing Joan Greenwood (though sadly aged) in one of her last roles as a dotty old dear Lady Selina Hazy, a friend of Jane's, and she still gets to discuss cake (seed cake here) just as she did in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST! It's a clever mystery as Miss Marple sits and observes all and it keeps one engrossed as well as enjoying classic BBC television at it's best.

Monday, 26 July 2010


What happens when toys aren't needed anymore?. The first TOY STORY passed me by, I had no interest in a kids' cartoon about toys, though I loved Pixar's FINDING NEMO. Now suddenly as TOY STORY 3 hits the screens, I have fallen in love with TOY STORY 2 - so will have to see the other two... TOY STORY 2 is an endlessly charming and yes moving delight with superb animation and that fabulous range of toys - I particularly like Hamm the piggy bank! But Woody and Buzz are timeless creations too. This film has more to say about friendship, loss, loyalty and the value of life itself than any of the more mature epics - there are so many delightful moments:
It is Yard Sale Day and the toys are understandably tense. You see, Yard Sale Day means that the old toys go out to the sale. Woody has reason to be nervous, he's starting to show his age. Poor Weezie the Penguin was laid forgotten on Andy's bookcase and he promptly gets put in the sale box. It's up to Woody to save him, which he does. But he gets picked up by a greedy toy-collector named Al and taken to Al's Toy Barn. Seems Woody is pretty valuable and Al wants to sell him to a toy auction. Can Buzz and friends save him in time? Jessie the Yodelling Cowgirl is played brilliantly by Joan Cusack, and the toys have to face the fact that Andy their owner is growing up and will not need them any more as he goes to high school ... its all nicely worked out and it will be fascinating and emotional seeing how TOY STORY 3 finishes and of course Barbie gets her Ken! T S 2 has that splendid scene too where they have to cross the road which is brilliantly designed and directed - Pixar are genius! I am now feeling guilty about all those toys I casually discarded as I was growing up ...!

HAIR (1979). One of my best nights in the theatre was seeing A CHORUS LINE at Drury Lane in London on my 30th birthday in 1976. When the movie came along by Attenborough with Michael Douglas I had no interest in seeing it as I just knew it would not be the same experience [or even the same story] so I have never seen it. Its the same with HAIR although I did not see the stage version, but I know it was unique as a statement about the sixties, culture, war, music and race relations. We knew the songs at the time and there have been so many versions of them. Then the movie by Milos Forman came along in 1979 with choreography by Twyla Tharp, but again I gave it a miss - as it seemed a whole new story was created for the film which of course could not replicate the stage show. But now I have seen the movie and I like it a lot. Treat Williams as Berger leads a small group of anti-war hippes living in Central Park who happen upon Claude (John Savage) new in town, who has been drafted into the US Army for service in Vietnam. Beverly D'Angelo is the society girl he falls for, and Cheryl Barnes as Hud's discarded girlfriend sings "Easy To Be Hard" which is just plain astonishing. I only knew her from singing that terrific song "Love and Passion" for the soundtrack of Schrader's AMERICAN GIGOLO for the disco scene. I also like the look of the film and of course that choreography!
The hippies though come across as selfish and think nothing of wrecking a dinner party, stealing cars or begging for money - at least Treat Williams is terrific and looks the part, with or without clothes. Some scenes pack an emotional wallop like at the start as Claude and his father wait for the bus (reminiscent of my own father and me) and those soldiers heading off overseas - still topical today. I thought the general looked familiar: its director Nicholas Ray in his last appearance! Below: Treat in Richard Lester's THE RITZ with Jack Weston under the bed, and Rita Moreno as Googie Gomez!

EXPERIMENT IN TERROR. Lee Remick (subject of a forthcoming post here) had a big hit in 1962 with Blake Edwards' DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES. Edwards and Remick got together again the same year for the tense thriller EXPERIMENT IN TERROR (called THE GRIP OF FEAR here in the U.K.!) which never gets revived now, so its been good to finally see it on dvd now. Its quite creepy actually as bank clerk Remick is persuaded by the unseen (until the climax) villain Ross Martin to steal a lot of money from her bank and he persuades her by kidnapping her younger sister Stephanie Powers. Enter Glenn Ford as the detective on the case .... its fascinating and gripping as it unfolds.
Ford is a curious case - not forgotten but regularly overlooked in lists of great stars but he was one of the most dependable players from mid-40s [GILDA!, A STOLEN LIFE] to mid-60s, being a major player in the '50s where he could do it all: westerns (THE SHEEPMAN, COWBOY, JUBAL), dramas (THE BIG HEAT, THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE) and comedies (THE GAZEBO, THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER) etc. He and Remick are a good team here and its still a very effective creepy thriller.

FATE IS THE HUNTER - Another Glenn Ford drama, from 1964, by Ralph Nelson, one of those proficient directors (like Robert Wise, J Lee Thompson, Richard Fleisher) who can work in any genre without any distinguishing trademark. This one re-unites THE BIRDS' Rod Taylor and Suzanne Pleshette as it features the aftermath of a plane crash where the only survivor is stewardess Pleshette (who is perfect here, as of course she is in everything, above with Tippi Hedren in THE BIRDS). Ford is the airline investigator whose pal Rod Taylor was the pilot of the plane so he has extra reason to discover what went wrong and quickly. The sterling cast also features Nancy Kwan who has a few scenes at the end, Jane Russell "as herself" in flashbacks and an unbilled Dorothy Malone who has a good scene as a ritzy socialite who was engaged briefly to Taylor, who is also dependable as ever here. This was a pleasant programmer at the time, good to see it again after 45+ years.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

A mixed bag ...

KITTEN WITH A WHIP - A delicious 1964 farrago with the then rising Ann-Margret who is the sole reason to see this one. She is the wild teen running away from reform school who takes up residence in nice but dull guy John Forsythe's suburban home while his wife is out of town. Instead of calling the police the very wooden Forsythe tries to help her! Life with Ann is a rollercoaster as her mood swings drive Forsyth (a long way before DYNASTY) around the bend as he tries to get rid of her before family and neighbours find out. Ann then invites her teen hood friends to the party, including Skip Ward (the bus driver from NIGHT OF THE IGUANA) and then they all go slumming to Tijuana over the Mexican border... as they all cheat and double-cross each other to a fitting finale. Its certainly one to laugh at, now has anyone got a copy of Ann's THE SWINGER or BUS RILEY IS BACK IN TOWN?

TROOPER HOOK - I really liked this 1957 western when I saw it as a kid so nice to see it again 50 years later. I like Barbara Stanwyck's other '50s westerns too (CATTLE QUEEN OF MONTANA, THE MAVERICK QUEEN, THE FURIES, 40 GUNS), this is a nice black and white one made the year after THE SEARCHERS and is also about a woman being rescued from living with the indians - here though its a mature woman with her son by the Apache chief Nanchez (Rudolfo Acosta). Joel McCrea is the Trooper Hook of the title who has the task of taking Cora and her son back to her husband as they travel though Indian territory on a stagecoach which also has Senorita Susan Kohner, cowboy Earl Hollimann, and the splendidly venal Edward Andrews on board). Stanwyck is very compelling as Cora and plays it mainly silent as she re-adjusts to civilisation. Nanchez is also in pursuit as he wants his son. John Dehner is the husband who wants his wife back but not her half-breed child ... its tense and nicely resolved and its one of Stanwyck's better '50s films, all wrapped up in 80 minutes and there is even a Tex Ritter theme song!
RAW WIND IN EDEN - Another delicious farrago from 1957 this sudser has playgirl Esther Williams (though she seems rather mature...) and Carlos Thompson crashing their plane in a remote Italian island where mystery man Jeff Chandler lives with the locals including Helen of Troy herself Rosanna Podesta. Esther and Carlos move into their shack and its a mystery how Esther has a never ending supply of clean clothes and makeup. She and Jeff eventually get together and it all gets rather steamy. Esther's career was practically over by this time (she made one more little regarded melodrama) but Jeff had a good run in the '50s squiring those ladies like Loretta Young (BECAUSE OF YOU), Lana Turner (THE LADY TAKES A FLYER), June Allyson (STRANGER IN MY ARMS), Kim Novak (JEANNE EAGELS) and Susan Hayward (THUNDER IN THE SUN) as well as adventures like SIGN OF THE PAGAN, MAN IN THE SHADOW, 10 SECONDS TO HELL and YANKEE PASHA. He died in 1961 after complications following an operation... Esther later wrote in her autobiography that Jeff was a cross-dresser with a penchant for polka-dot dresses, but it seems it was not true.

THE SPANISH GARDENER - 50+ years later this is still a compelling drama, from a A J Cronin bestseller, and is a nice look at the Costa Brava in the '50s as stuffy minor diplomat Michael Hordern and his neglected son Jon Whiteley (the little boy in MOONFLEET) arrive, following the father's divorce. Dirk Bogarde is the gardener hired by the father who soon forms a bond with the lonely boy who has no friends as he and the father move around a lot. The father though soon grows jealous of the friendship between gardener and boy - is he jealous of his son or of the gardener? Hordern excels as the buttoned-up repressed man unable to express his feelings. Things take a melodramatic turn as the father forbids his son to continue associating with Jose, the gardener, and the servant (Cyril Cusack) engineers a theft for which Jose is blamed. Soon Jose is on the run with Nicholas (Whiteley) seeking him out and the father now humbled and sorry for his actions in pursuit as it is all nicely resolved. Director Philip Leacock made some interesting movies before moving into television.

NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY - Jack Smight's 1968 black comedy was a treat back then and is still so now, as serial killer Rod Steiger dons different disguises to con his way into the homes of lonely middle aged women ... it of course boils down to his mother complex! Rod runs a theate so has access to lots of disguises as we see him in turn as an Irish priest, a Polish plumber, in drag as a woman scared to go leave a bar, and hilariously as a camp hairdresser! George Segal is Mo Brummell, the harrassed Jewish detective on the case - plagued by his very Jewish mother Eileen Heckart who is great fun here. Lee Remick is the girl who may provide a clue and she is charming here making something special of the standard girl role. Just one quibble: wouldn't the mother fixated killer go after Segal's mother rather than his girlfriend? It's got a nice late '60s feel .... below, right: Steiger in drag with another victim...

PARANOIA, or A QUIET PLACE TO KILL - a friend into those Italian giallo thrillers lent me this Umberto Lenzi thriller from 1970 and its a whole lot of fun as the melodramatic plot twists and turns as racing driver Carroll Baker crashes her car on the circuit and ends up slightly wounded in hospital. During her period of recovery, she accepts to stay at her ex-husband (Jean Sorel) and his new wife's mansion. Two attractive women and one handsome guy in one house can only result in extended sequences of sexual intrigue, double-crossing and conspiracies to murder, particularly when the precocious daughter of the second wife arrives with a plot of her own. Baker and Sorel excelled as this kind of thing and Carroll frequently disrobes to add to the sexual tensions. It all rises to a crescendo and a final twist that leaves one dazed !

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Some French films....

4 French flicks I recently enjoyed:

DEATHWATCH or LE MORT EN DIRECT - Bertrand Tavernier's 1979 futuristic film (released in 1980) set in a (then) run-down Glasgow and other Scottish locations, as a sort of sci-fi where watching people die on television is the new craze. Its "reality tv" about 20 years before it happened ... and is a weird mix of 70s Hollywood (represented by Harvey Keitel and Harry Dean Stanton) mixed in with icons of European cinema - Romy Schneider and Max Von Sydow. Schneider is fascinating as ever and delivers a powerhouse performance as the woman told she is going to die, who is followed by Keitel with a camera implanted in his eyes to record her every move for the tv company marketing the Death Watch show - sort of an early Big Brother. She goes on the run to avoid her death being a public spectacle, but is she really ill or being deceived? At over two hours it is probably a bit too long and there are longeurs but then Von Sydow enters making the last 15 minutes enthralling. Romy died two years later in '82 and is very natural and feisty here and even de-glamourised is still so beautiful. A fascinating experiment that doesn't quite come off...

LE PEAU DOUCE (THE SOFT SKIN) - Francois Truffaut's 1964 study of an adulterous affair and its repercussions is still a charming movie from that era of lustrous black and white photography. In the hands of another director, this could be a corny melodramatic story (rather like DAY FOR NIGHT's "MEET PAMELA"); in the hands of Truffault, this little gem becomes a credible, melancholic drama - but to modern audiences now the "hero" surely comes across as a smug, self-satisfield individual, cheating on his wife and constantly eyeing up other women. No wonder his wife Franca is dissatisfied. On a routine trip away he makes a play for the air stewardess who is at the same hotel, and this quickly leads to an affair. But would Nicole the attractive hostess - Francoise Dorleac at her vibrant attractive best - really notice this average, if well-known, middle-aged man? He takes her away on another trip but everything goes wrong as his time is monopolised by the provincial people he is lecturing to, and he gets landed with a bore who wants to travel back to Paris with him. Things comes to a head with his marriage and he images he will be setting up home with the hostess, but then his wife finds the photos of their weekend away and takes matters into her own hands. He does not seem too put out about Nicole leaving him, as he sits at his usual place in the restaurant as he arranges to resume his marriage... Its another nice movie of Paris in the early '60s (like CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 or LE FEU FOLLET). Jean Desailly is effective as our hero and Dorleac creates a very modern girl. One nice moment is when they put out the breakfast tray and the cat comes in on cue - which Truffaut had fun recreating in DAY FOR NIGHT.

ANOTHER MAN ANOTHER CHANCE - Not really French, this long unseen rarity turned up courtesy of TCM here in the UK as one of their United Artists titles they are currently screening. I saw it back in '77 so pleasant to catch it again now. It is of course a western reworking by Claude Lelouch of his 1966 mega-hit UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME - as this is another man and another woman in a different time and place. Its a handsome pleasant hazy re-creation of the old west (well apart from the rape and murder of vet James Caan's wife, Jennifer Warren...). It begins in revolutionary Paris as photographer Francis Huster and wife Genevieve Bujold decide to move to the new world and travel by ship to America, then they are on a covered wagon and attacked by redskins and finally decide to settle and open their photography business. Caan also arrives in town, having sold his ranch, and deposits his baby with the underwritten part of the school-teacher - a too-little seen Susan Tyrell. Then cue the influences of Lelouch's original: some years later they visit their children at the school, she misses her stagecoach drive home, the teacher asks him to give her a drive, they slowly open up to each other, he asks to meet her husband and then we get the flashback about how he was killed .... instead of motor cars and racing tracks there are stagecoaches and horse races - and the ending is perfect as he rides on horseback to join her and the children [having brought his wife's killers to justice] as the camera pulls back to leave them as figures in a landscape with a neat voiceover as it fades to a sepia photograph in a photo-album. If you loved the '66 original, you will get a lot of pleasure out of this too, particularly with Caan and Bujold at their most pleasing, both are very likeable here. Lelouch though seems to be out of fashion now, unlike Demy, Malle, Truffaut or Chabrol...

HEAVEN FELL THAT NIGHT [Les Bijoutiers Du Clair De Lune] - Back to the '50s for Vadim's second film with Bardot after their AND GOD CREATED WOMAN sensation in 1956. This is a sunburned film noir, beautifully photographed in colour and CinemaScope utilising some extraordinary landscapes in Spain. BB is the young convent girl returning home to stay with aunt Alida Valli and her lecherous husband who is soon killed by local stud Stephen Boyd, who has been seeing Valli. A powerful scene takes place during the Count's funeral where we see Valli stopping in the village streets and removing her veil which covers her face to stare in silence, at Boyd, as she conceals her passions beneath a steely exterior. BB is sensational as ever but does not come to dominate the film until she and Boyd are on the run though those incredible landscapes. Her scenes with the animals (a donkey and a piglet) are charming - highlighting her future interests. There is also though the brutality of bull-fighting, and a very erotic scene as the lovers finally get together. This one does for Spain what AND GOD CREATED WOMAN did for St Tropez. Bardot and Boyd are perfect here and both look their best, which did not apply 10 years later in that trash western (also made in Spain) SHALAKO in '68 when they were both past their peaks.... Valli too is terrific in a role with shades of her Wanton Countess in Visconti's SENSO. Like the British THE SPANISH GARDENER it captures Spain before all the tourists arrived... though this must have been much more sensational at the time with BB in various states of undress; one can see how she affected the 50s, like James Dean did, being a true archtype, as Mylene Demongeot and others copied her hair and fashions. Just what the '50s needed! The dvd also contains a bumper selection of trailers for all those other BB titles, some long unseen.