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B. Reeves Eason
A continental dream team of Marlene Dietrich and Vittorio DeSica team up for Montecarlo a place that was big news in 1957 because of a wedding that took place there. It was a natural that someone would have done some kind of Monaco based story because of the wedding of their reigning Prince Rainer to American film star Grace Kelly.
There was however little chemistry between Dietrich and DeSica. I think both of them did the film because of the opportunity to spend time on the Riviera. That's as good a reason as any I've ever heard.
The two stars are a pair of fortune hunters. Both have lost heavily at the gaming tables and each spies the other as a possible mark. When the horrible truth sinks in that they've only combined their debts they decide to team up and get richer respective partners. They decide on a father and daughter duo of millionaires.
Highlight of the film is Marlene Dietrich trying to seduce her mark Arthur O'Connell with a vamp version of Back Home In Indiana. Bet you never thought of that as a torch song. But when Marlene does it in her inimitable style it has possibilities.
But what I can't figure out is why DeSica was given 18 year old Natalie Trundy to go after. I mean the writers couldn't have had him trying to work O'Connell's sister instead of a daughter? He really comes across as a dirty old man. It's the main weakness of the film.
Among the supporting players is Italian comedian Renato Rascel who would co-star with Mario Lanza in The Seven Hills Of Rome the following year. He plays a pawnbroker who wants his tickets redeemed or Marlene's jewelry. Seems as though she had an agreement with Rascel's brother to allow her to wear the jewels for the casinos. Rascel wants an end to that practice and he and Dietrich have some great scenes together.
The wide screen color cinematography of Monaco and the Riviera are absolutely breathtaking. I'm glad color was used for this beautiful spot on the planet.
According to a recent biography of Marlene Dietrich, Vittorio DeSica had two great passions, pursuit of young girls in real life like Natalie Trundy and the gaming tables. He was a candidate for Gamblers Anonymous, DeSica when he won financed his films that way. Many a day's shoot was held up because of DeSica's late night hobbies.
Still Dietrich's legion of fans world wide will like the film and enjoy a glimpse of Montecarlo at the beginning of the Princess Grace story.
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