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An ancient Inca rope bridge spanning a chasm in the Peruvian Andes collapses, sending five travelers to their deaths in the gorge below. A monk who was nearby, Father Juniper, decides to investigate the lives of those who died in order to see if the tragedy was a result of chance or some divine plan. Written by
This adaptation of a great writer's novel falls far short of its intentions. It's hoity-toity without being either profound or risible.
Akim Tamiroff makes quite some Peruvian sage! I got a kick out of his comments on "the wiceroy," sounding for all the world like my own late Russian grandfather.
Lynn Bari doesn't have the flair for the femme fatale around whom the plot is built. The character is the Bizet/Merimee Carmen set in the land of Offenbach's "La Perichole." She is indeed called by that name. But the plots are dissimilar and we sure do miss the music.
Francis Lederer was a handsome and appealing actor and he is fine as her love interest. Alla Nazimova is good as the noblewoman who schemes to thwart her.
The movie seems to have spent all its money on rights to the novel and on some of the supporting players. It's low budget and what comes through of Wilder's philosophy is so watered down as to be meaningless.
Paulette Godard was in Renoir's American production of "The Diary of a Chambermaid" right around this time. The budget may not have been higher but the director was one of the very greatest and Goddard was perfect as the crafty title character. Indeed, I prefer that movie to Bunuel's later, more famous and highly regarded one.
"San Luis Rey" could have worked. But it doesn't.
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