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London-based Millionairess Epifania (Sophia Loren) is attracted to Dr. Kabir (MD from Delhi and PhD from Calcutta), who is more intent on treating patients. When she persists, he confides in her that he had made a commitment to his late widowed seamstress mother that he will wed any woman who will manage to survive on just Rs.500/-, for 90 days. She finds out that this sum is equivalent to just 35 shillings but readily accepts this challenge. She also informs him that her late father had also imposed a condition that she must wed a male who will turn £500 into £15000 within the same period. Epifania then finds employment with an Italian firm, ends up re-organizing, and turning up the firm's profits. At the end of 90 days, she goes to meet Kabir and discovers that he has not only given all the money away but also has no interest whatsoever in marrying her. Written by
Sophia Loren is "The Millionairess" in this 1960 film also starring Peter Sellars, with director Vittorio de Sica playing a small role. The film is adapted from a play by George Bernard Shaw. I seem to remember that Garson Kanin and Katharine Hepburn had planned to do this play as a movie, but it never happened. I can't imagine why they wanted to do it, and I frankly don't know if their version would have been much better. At least in this production we got to look at Sophia and her exquisite wardrobe.
Loren plays an Italian heiress who falls for an Indian doctor (Sellars) devoted to helping the poor. She is determined to get him, even building a huge hospital for him, but nothing seems to work. Her father stipulated that if she married, she must give her husband-to-be 500 pounds, and within three months, he must have made it into 15,000 pounds. It turns out that Sellars' mother had a similar rule for a proposed wife - she must go out into the world with 35 shillings and the clothes on her back and make a living. Loren takes the bet and hands Sellars 500 pounds. She walks into a pasta-making sweatshop, cuts out the middleman, brings in modern equipment, lets the workers unionize, and makes a fortune for the owners and herself. The Sellars character leaves the money he was given on his reception desk, but no one takes any.
There is absolutely no action and no pacing in this film, and it fails to hold interest except when Sophia shows up in a new outfit. It's obvious that it's a play, and it would have to move a lot faster in order for it to have even a chance at working. Sophia is definitely one of the wonders of the world, and in 1960, she was on top of it, an absolute goddess with a voluptuous body, the kind never seen today. She's beautifully dressed by Pierre Balman. Sellars is excellent as always, but this would be at the bottom of the list as far as his early films.
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