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Alfred L. Werker
It's the story of people who must corrupt and change and flourish and wither.
Operating under a number of different titles (the best being The Restless and the Damned), L'ambitieuse was simultaneously filmed both in French and English by director Yves Allégret. It stars Edmond O'Brien, Richard Basehart, Andréa Parisy and Nicole Berger.
Set and filmed in Tahiti, L'ambitieuse is a film that tries the patience at first. The set up is all about greed and infidelity, where Parisy will do anything to achieve wealth, much to the chagrin of her ever unhappy husband (Basehart) and the ever horny business partner/dupe (O'Brien). As the femme fatale dominates her husband whilst dangling her admirer on a string, the two men, now realising they are in a web of deceit, make some decisions that will spell doom for some of them...
Initially some of the acting annoys and hinders the slow paced favoured by Allégret. O'Brien is too hyper and over mugs it, while Parisy simply isn't a good enough actress to convince with the literary aspects of the screenplay. However, once a terrific free for all involving bicycles arrives (seriously, bikes as weapons), the film kicks up a gear and O'Brien settles down while Parisy gets to sexy things up - something which is clearly in her range. As the business machinations begin to thrive (the music score is purposely off-kilter), and the greed and disloyalty's come to the fore, the pic starts to grip and leads you to what is a pitch black film noir finale.
It's something of a rare picture and hard to track down, but if you can catch it then fans of O'Brien and Basehart are well served by their committed presence, whilst on narrative terms it's a picture comfortably recommended for the noir heads among us. 6.5/10
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