A party of yachting jet-setters visit French Saigon, where they meet lovely Manon deVargnes, a second-class citizen not allowed to leave the country due to her part-Oriental ancestry. When the others leave, playboy Bill Carey stays behind to woo Manon; but all his efforts to get her out of the country with him run into a brick wall. And Pierre Delaroch, her wealthy former admirer, waits for him to give up... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hedy Lamarr was not generally as fortunate in her scripts or her directors as most of the great leading ladies of her day.Yet this now almost forgotten film may ,in fact, be her most perfect vehicle. "Samson and Delilah" appears the only alternative possibility ;still the gentler less garish approach here serves to better accentuate Miss Lamarr's exquisite beauty and muted, perfectly timed, performance.
The part of the half-caste Manon seems written for her (an excellent Ben Hecht script); the photography deserved its Oscar nomination and makes us ask for what do we need technicolor? Furthermore,Lamarr is ably seconded by then newcomer Gloria Franklin as another gentle victim of the Saigon love game.And can Miss Franklin handle a heartbreaking rhythm. Why did America fail to take this delicate chanteuse to its heart?
The main flaw in this work,which otherwise would deserve a nine or ten rating, is the casting of an already hardening Robert Taylor as the enraptured playboy.It is patent,considering the obvious parallels with "Camille, why Taylor got the part. He even goes through some almost identical motions a second time in the death scene here. And that is exactly the problem.Taylor has left romanticism behind him by the time this film was shot. His best notes here are quiet desperation. Francis Lederer would have been great for the role(remember him with Louise Brooks?),but, under the Hollywood casting system ,there was no chance he could have gotten the part.
Flawed as it is, it is flawless Lamarr.And as every romantic believes ,there must still be audiences of unknowing lovers out there who will want to see it again-and again.
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