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Robert Walker Jr.,
Act of Love (1953) is a bittersweet love story about the star-crossed relationship between a World War II GI and a young Parisian during the Allied liberation of Paris. KIRK DOUGLAS plays Robert Teller, an Army PFC who, while stationed in France toward the end of World War II, meets and falls in love with a destitute French woman, Lise Gudayec (DANY ROBIN). When Teller seeks permission to marry Lise, his condescending commanding officer (GEORGE MATHEWS) has Teller transferred because he considers the young woman to be an opportunist. The transfer has tragic consequences.
The film's ending is highly emotional when Teller visits the small French Riviera hotel that Lise told him about. At the hotel he has a bitter encounter with his former commanding officer. And it is in one of the hotel rooms that Teller, while recalling the descriptive words of Lise, fully realizes how truly beautiful was their brief love affair. Get out the hankies for this ending. The film marked the debut of French-born Robin in an English-speaking film. Robin, who began her career as a ballerina with the Paris Opera, made her screen debut in 1946 at the age of 19 in the French film Les Portes de la Nuit (Gates of the Night).
Filmed in Paris and on the French Riviera, Act of Love was one of three films that Douglas made abroad during 1952 and '53. The other two were The Juggler (1953), which was filmed in Israel, and Ulysses (1954), which was filmed in Italy. During the three-picture, near-two-year filming schedule, Douglas spent a total of just one month in the United States.
Act of Love also marked the first appearance in an English-speaking film by BRIGITTE BARDOT, who would subsequently gain fame with her pouting good looks and curvaceous figure as France's "sex kitten." In Act of Love, Bardot portrays Mimi, a friend of Lise.
Act of Love was based on the 1949 novel The Girl on the Via Flaminia by ALFRED HAYES. The film's screenplay was by German writer Joseph KESSEL and American novelist-screenwriter IRWIN SHAW. Shaw's other well-known film credits included Fire Down Below (1957) and The Young Lions (1958). Kessel also wrote the French dialogue for the version released in France, titled Un acte d'amour.
For the record: Robin retired from film-making in 1969, after completing the ALFRED HITCHCOCK spy thriller Topaz. She and her husband, British producer MICHAEL SULLIVAN, died in a fire in 1995. She was 68. Robin was known for her dislike of journalists even during the height of her career. Because of this, journalists in 1953 and '54 presented her with the annual Lemon Prize, which is given to the nastiest French actress.
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