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Anastasia
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Synopsis for
Anastasia (1956) More at IMDbPro »

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This is an example of a weak British play turned into a much-admired Oscar and Bafta winning movie by screenwriter Arthur Laurents, director Anatole Litvak and composer Alfred Newman. Russian emigres living in Paris and Copenhagen ten years after the Tsar was executed during the First World War were historically drawn into an extortion scheme to draw on one of the family's unclaimed ten million pound bank accounts in the form of war reparations. .Yul Brynner is a player in the extortion scheme. As the group's window of opportunity to cop the lolly is drawing to a close, he boxes homeless woman, Ingrid Bergman, into being the claimant asking for fiscal executorship to draw on the ten million pound bank account. Because the players and their sycophants do not seem to be able to generate the legal paperwork to prepare the civil suit to claim the lolly, the second half draws into it a recluse widow played by Helen Hayes, whom they believe will be able to sort it out. What none in the group, least of all Yul Brynner, expects is that two of Hollywood's most admired stars, Ingrid Bergman and Helen Hayes, are given character blocking to exhibit loose cannon personalities who purposefully blow everything up at every turn, and also light up the screen with heart-rending performances as foils to Brynner's charismatic presence and powerful gut determination to extort money. Following their powerful confrontations which take up much of the second half, Bergman and Hayes disappear from the action to prepare, offscreen, a formal diplomatic reception to which the press will be invited to witness Hayes' proclamation of support for Bergman's civil suit petition to cop the ten million pound lolly so Brynner can distribute some of it to each cohort. Everyone gets a surprise when Bergman and Hayes slyly reveal their own counterplan to spoil everything and carry it off with aplomb, even if the denoument was not very well written in the play. Bergman quietly disappears into anonymity because her identity as a homeless woman is not yet established. Hayes informs her sycophants that she merely plans to make a grand entrance, then curtly command everyone to go home because there is no civil suit.
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