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Francis L. Sullivan
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Russian exiles in Paris plot to collect ten million pounds from the Bank of England by grooming a destitute, suicidal girl to pose as heir to the Russian throne. While Bounin is coaching her he comes to believe she is really Anastasia. In the end the Empress must decide her claim. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
A trio of unscrupulous Russian exiles Yul Brynner, Sacha Pitoeff, and Akim Tamiroff locate an amnesia victim among the flotsam and jetsam of refugees in post World War I Europe and attempt to pass her off as one of Czar Nicholas II,'s daughters, Grand Duchess Anastasia, who survived the massacre of the royal family in 1918.
The role of "Anastasia" marked Ingrid Bergman's return to an American film production after her exile from America after 1949 and she won her second Oscar with it. She runs a whole gamut of emotions from absolute despair to an assumed air of royalty. After a while Brynner and his confederates think that just maybe Ingrid's the real deal.
Of course the ultimate test is whether the Dowager Empress of Russia, Helen Hayes, accepts Ingrid as the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Although Ingrid got her Oscar, I've always felt that Hayes gives the best performance in the film.
At the age Dowager Empress Marie was in the Twenties all she had left was memories. She's from the Danish Royal House and was the widow of Alexander III and the mother of Nicholas II of Russia. Her world was turned upside down in 1917 with the Russian Revolution, not just toppled from the privileged position she had, she lost her entire family of the next generation of Romanovs to political upheaval. Hayes is back in her native Denmark, a lonely proud, but regal woman with nothing but memories. She truly becomes the Empress Marie.
Yul Brynner as General Sergei Pavlovich Bounine is one of that crowd of Russian refugees who apparently got out of Russia with more than just a skin. He's the owner of a Russian café in Paris and should be doing OK, but he's got a streak of larceny in him and a taste for high living. He's involved in bilking a whole lot of Russian exiles in a search for a Romanov heir to claim millions deposited by the late Czar for his children in the Bank of England. He's got to come up with an heir of some kind and fast. But he's a charming fellow and gives one charming performance.
Both Brynner and Director Anatole Litvak with their own Slavic backgrounds give Anastasia a real flavor of authenticity for the main characters and the Russian exile background of the film. It was shot on location in both Paris and Copenhagen and the camera work is first rate.
Anastasia became a milestone film for Ingrid Bergman and while Anna Koreff may have been a bogus Russian princess, as an actress Ingrid Bergman was always the real deal.
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