The seductive wiles of a woman know no bounds.
The fine team of Glenn Ford (The Sheepman, The Fastest Gun Alive, Gilda) and Rita Hayworth (Gilda, Pal Joey, Fire Down Below) gets stuck with a hopelessly melodramatic and pathetic attempt at recreating the opera Carmen, sans the singing. A fine disc, but a movie that will please only the most die-hard fans of either of these actors and vintage film.
Rita Hayworth looks bewitching and seductive enough in gypsy garb, especially when she dances and flashes her legs. She was at the height of her beauty in '48, and had proven herself in other films, such as the wonderful Gilda with Glenn Ford. That is about all the good things I have to say about the film, except for when the humor becomes unintentional. Some things get better with age, like wine, cheese, and me. Other things become hopelessly dated and trite, like this film. When you see Glenn Ford in a bright yellow coat, bright red pants, and a pointy, floppy stocking cap in matching shades of red and yellow, and find out he just joined a unit called "The Gay Police," it's hard not to giggle.
Assuming you're still reading, this really is another nice disc in the Columbia Classics collection. It looks great; with rich, vibrant colors, without edge enhancement, and a fine restoration. There are few nicks or other film noise to mar the Technicolor brilliance. Black levels, shadows, and natural landscapes look great. I can honestly say I rarely see a transfer this good, and on a 50-year-old film! The audio retains the original mono, but dialogue is clear and music doesn't overwhelm it. The extras are respectable if not spectacular. Besides the film, there is a featurette on the career and life of Rita Hayworth, which left me with the strange impression that I married this woman once. But I digress. There are also Columbia Talent Files for the actors, stills of the movie posters that advertised the film, and trailers for Loves of Carmen, Gilda, and Pal Joey. There are also more-than-ample language dubs and subtitles.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
You have a free hour? Actually, I'm being facetious here, it will only take me a minute to give you the scoop on what is bad about this film. As I said above, it is hopelessly melodramatic. This works in an opera; it fails miserably as a film. The plot itself is very sad, you see a promising young man completely taken in by a beautiful woman, with little motivation, and ends up totally destroyed by her. He gives up his position, his principles, and ultimately his life for her, and the film clearly shows she isn't worth it. The setting is simply laughable for Glenn Ford, who works much better as a western gunman than a Spanish soldier. The stunts look incredibly staged, like a B western. My biggest regret of the days of the studio actors under contract is that fine actors sometimes got stuck having to do drivel like this.
Unless you are a fan of this film, and think I'm an idiot for not liking it, or you simply collect all the old Columbia classics, do not buy this disc. For fans of early Technicolor film, and of Rita Hayworth, it might be worth a rental. Otherwise, be happy it was me and not you who had to watch it.
Columbia needs to visit the grave of the director of this farce, Charles Vidor (A Farewell to Arms, Gilda, Cover Girl) and say "What were you thinking?" Columbia itself is acquitted with a fine disc, and I hope this is just a way of saying that all their catalog classics will get this treatment.
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