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Vittorio De Sica,
A young girl rescues a man from a suicide attempt. He turns out to be a sociopath, who begins to take over her life, abusing her both verbally and emotionally, yet she can't seem to tear herself away from him.
USA/French co-productions are a rarity. But this serves its subject matter superbly well - that time when American soldiers in their hundreds of thousands were first fighters then feted liberators on French soil. As does the script - nobody is a stereotype, everyone has their own, believable, character. Perhaps the sense of authenticity came also from the short time, just 8 years, between the events portrayed and when it was filmed. This was not one author's or one scriptwriter's imagination - it must have been a vivid memory in the minds of tens if not hundreds of thousands of American soldiers. Equally vivid for the French who had seen occupation or collaboration then liberation. There is a certain graciousness and humanity in the treatment of the characters. Later and lesser writers and directors would portray such situations as simply the meeting of drunken animalistic soldiers with faceless whores and thieving tricky locals. There is a dignity and respect to this film which has all but disappeared in subsequent "war movies".
Star that he is, was Kirk Douglas well-cast? I think not. Kirk Douglas portrayed even personified a particular type: given to action either outer or inner. Here he plays a far less certain character, not driven but drifting. Douglas was always Spartacus, even if the Romans couldn't spot him, viewers could every time. Perhaps this was a role for Mitchum
a mixture of integrity tempered by a degree of indolence.
This is not a film packed with stars, it is packed with people, American and French - a tribute to the director, writers and cast.
(British viewers might recognise a familiar face - Leslie Dwyer (here a quirky cameo Tommy with "just 5 teeth") later the grumpy child-hating children's entertainer in a '80's TV comedy series Hi De Hi!.)
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