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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
By 1954 the portmanteau film was running out of gas. Early sightings from England (Dead of Night, The Old Dark House, Quartet) had generated interest to the extent that Hollywood took a flyer (O'Henry's Full House, We're Not Married) but as usual it was France that put the icing on the cake via Souvenirs Perdus. Max Ophuls weighed in with Le Plaisir and Duvivier, who had actually been doing this stuff since the thirties albeit not so rigidly defined, contributed The Devil And The Ten Commandments. So the pickings were lean by the time Henri Decoin and Jean Delannoy tried their hand yet Bed Stories is never less than interesting largely due to them. The casting director who conceived teaming Jeanne Moreau with Richard Todd must surely have been at the magic champignons, an English equivalent around the same time would have been Peggy Ashcroft and Maxwell Reed. On the other hand the Moreau-Todd segment (and unbelievably he had the higher profile at the time) which kicks things off has a built-in charm factor and Decoin's sure touch ensures it cops the Best Segment nod. There's more joke casting in the shape of top-of-the-line Vittorio de Seca and starlet-of-the-month Dawn Adams as the divorce-seeking wife and the professional co-respondent who spend a night together in a hotel; this was old hat when Fred and Ginger were at it in The Gay Divorce and apart from Italian charm nothing much else emerges. There follows one of those it-was-all-a-dream episodes featuring two forgettable people until what should have been the kicker arrives featuring Martine Carol who by that time had fought her way to the number one spot at the French box office-where she would soon be ousted by the inferior Brigitte Bardot- and Bernard Blier though this sequence turns out to be something of a damp squib. Invaluable as a time-capsule.
Four tales ,all dealing with "the secrets of the bed" but actually only
the final one deals with what the audience is expecting,sex. Three
diplomats and their chauffeur who have to stop in the country for the
night begin to tell stories about beds.
Segment one :"billet" WW2.An English officer (Richard Todd)is sent to a house in France .A woman (Jeanne Moreau) is expecting him and she's expecting a baby too (in one week);it 's easy to guess which comes next but the two actors are really endearing .Richard Todd is wonderful as the "midwife" .Made by Henry Decoin,this is much closer to his gentle comedies ("Premier Rendez-vous") than to his numerous films noirs.
Segment two: "divorce" A man (Vittorio De Sica ) spends a night in a hotel with a woman (Dawn Addams) he's never seen before just to get a recording of adultery;it's very talky and a little boring in spite of the talent of the actors.Directed by Gianni Franciolini.
Segment three :"rude awakening" the only one with a working -class person ,the chauffeur !A driver meets a girl who's got a flat tire on the road;as a good macho,he tells the lady she won't be able to manage by herself and obviously he is right.During the night the girl (sexy Françoise Arnoul) gets into his trailer.Is it the beginning of a great love story? She invites him to her desirable mansion .He is on cloud nine,but the harder they come... Mouloudji sings his lovely ballad "Un Jour Tu Verras" which tells a love story in the future tense which makes it even more magical . Directed by Ralph Habib.
Segment four: "La Pompadour's bed" :one can only dream of what Sacha Guitry would have done with such a subject!Jean Delannoy was not up to scratch ,as far as comedies are concerned ,and the story of a courtesan (hot Martine Carol) who gains and loses the famous bed (a good luck charm she says)according to the fluctuation in politics is repetitive ,in spite of the presence of Bernard Blier and François Périer.
In the end ,two charming mini-tales and filler.
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