Ralph Habib was not only an inept director he was also stupid, so stupid that he plays his only Ace in the very first reel thus leaving discriminating viewers no solid reason to keep watching. The Ace in question is Arletty who, in addition to being an Icon, was one of the finest actresses in French cinema. Habib wheels her out after roughly seven minutes, uses her in a couple of scenes during which she gets to change her dress and share the screen with three of the leading players, Martine Carol, Roger Livesey and Karl Boehm, then she's gone after five minutes. On the other hand five minutes of Arletty is worth five Years of Vanessa Paradis, Ludovine Sagnier or Monica Belucci and if you're prepared to sit it out Arletty does get the final scene to herself albeit one that has the feel of being tacked on as a clumsy epilogue. In case you're interested the eponymous stowaway is Martine Carol, best described as an unlucky actress and person if it comes to that. She drew critical plaudits in Continentals Wolf Farm during the Occupation but her good looks led to a series of soft-porn in the early fifties then Bardot happened and that was that. None of her three marriages - the middle one to Christian-Jacque - were happy and as early as 1947 she attempted suicide. If THIS movie had been made in that year we would perhaps understand why but it was, in fact, eleven years later. It's one of those movies with a bizarre cast list - Roger Livesey, for example, was a veteran of the Powell-Pressburger school, appearing in I Know Where I'm Going, The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp and A Matter Of Life and Death, none of which was remotely like this mish-mosh. Serge Reggiani is the other star name but we never really get the feeling that he, Carol, Boehm and Livesey are in the same film. See it for Arletty.
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