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After mobsters murder her husband, Rose Bianco works long hours making artificial flowers, to support herself and her son. Some suspect that Rose's demand for a lavish lifestyle pushed her ... See full summary »
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Vittorio De Sica,
Nineteenth century Wyoming: the wild West. Mild-mannered Tom Healy has a two-wagon theater troupe hounded by creditors because Angela, his leading lady and the object of his affection, constantly buys clothes. In Cheyenne, they meet with applause, so they hope to stay awhile: the theater owner likes Angela, and she keeps him on a string. She's also the object of the attentions of Mabry, a gunslinger who's owed money by the richest man in Bonanza. Complications arise and the troupe heads for Bonanza, through hostile Indian territory. Is the troupe doomed to a peripatetic life, is Mabry in danger, and does Tom stand a chance with Angela, a hellion in pink tights? Written by
Actor Ken Clark, a close friend of writer DeWitt Bodeen, brought Louis L'Amour's book to Bodeen's attention. Bodeen, a friend of director George Cukor, told him about the book, which Cukor read and was enthusiastic about. Bodeen was to write the script with L'Amour himself, but L'Amour wanted more money than the studio was willing to pay and was not hired. The final screenplay is signed Dudley Nichols and Walter Bernstein. Cukor thanked Clark by casting him as a soldier warning the traveling company about the presence of Indians in the area. See more »
When Mabry is pursuing the wagons, shots of him from the front show his shadow going uphill to the right of screen. Shots of the wagons from the front show their shadows going to the left of the screen. This would indicate that they are going in opposite directions. See more »
A blonde Sophia... and a surprisingly effective story
Director George Cukor's only western, this is about a traveling stage show that keeps getting into trouble because of the escapades of their leading star, Angela Rossini, deliciously played by Sophia Loren, quite fetching as a blonde. She is top billed along with Anthony Quinn. It also stars an adolescent Margaret O'Brien (a child in "Meet Me in St. Louis"), whose mother does not want her to grow up. I thought O'Brien was as charming in this as she was in "St. Louis."
I had never seen "Heller" in its complete form, never in any quality print, and this DVD looks great. I'd only seen edited for TV versions, and that made it hard to follow. Seeing this DVD release surprised me. The film is top notch Cukor, ranking as one of the most entertaining westerns of the 1960s. The director also got a full- blooded and emotional performance from Loren, perhaps one of her most natural, and the director even held the reins on Quinn, who could overdo his roles on occasion.
Actor Steve Forrest also has a well-integrated part, and his character appears at just the right moments to thrust the story forward or change its direction. Ramon Novarro (Judah in the silent "Ben-Hur," opposite Garbo in "Mata Hari") appears on screen for the last time, effectively playing a conniving banker. If you go into this film with an open mind, I think you'll find that it is funny, exciting, romantic and often surprising. I never knew where it was going, and that made it refreshing. You'll probably also enjoy the wonderfully visualized period atmosphere in stunning Technicolor. There's also a fine score by Daniele Amphitheatrof, a far too unappreciated composer.
Give this film a try. You'll probably have a good time.
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