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In Argentina, the family man Julio Madariaga is the patriarch of his family and considers his farm the paradise on Earth. One of his daughters, Luisa Desnoyers, has married the Frenchman immigrant Marcelo Desnoyers and they have one son, the playboy Julio, and one daughter, the gorgeous student of Sorbonne Chi Chi. His other daughter, Elena von Hartrott, has married the German Karl von Hartrott, and they have three sons: Heinrich, Gustav and Franz. In 1938, Heinrich returns from Germany for a family reunion and when he tells that he has joined the SS, the displeased Julio Madariaga has a heart attack and dies. When France is occupied by the Germans, the family reunites in Paris and Franz is the Nazi administrator in France. The alienated Julio has a studio where he paints, and has a love affair with Marguerite Laurier, the wife of the owner of a newspaper Etienne Laurier that is fighting in Belgium. Meanwhile Chi Chi joins the French resistance and is arrested. Julio uses the ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
According to Martin Gottfried in his biography of Angela Lansbury, "Balancing Act", she dubbed Ingrid Thulin's voice as a favor to her husband Peter Shaw, then an executive at MGM. Both Lansbury's and Thulin's voices are heard on the soundtrack. See more »
When Karl is proposing a toast in honor of the family reunited at last (1h 01'), we can see Julio successively in the mirror and in close-up. In the mirror he has a glass in his left hand, but in close-ups the glass is in his right hand. The left-right hand images alternates three times. See more »
When you're watching Minnelli's work today you cannot help but thinking that he had a strong influence on Luchino Visconti's "la caditi dei degli" (1969)Actually the two movies begin the same way:a family whose members are tearing each other part because some of them go nazi.It does not matter if the scene takes place in Argentina in Minnelli's work:we find the same madness,the same baroque side and similarities abound:the old man's death echoes to that of the patriarch of the Essenbeck family in " la caduit dei degli" .Karl Boehm's character inspired Helmut Griem's one.And Ingrid Thulin is featured in both films,although she does not appear in the first thirty minutes,the best..
The dinner scene remains impressive today:if it certainly inspired Visconti later ,itself takes probably its roots in Frank Borzague's masterwork "mortal storm" (1940),which tackled long before his two peers the subject of the family and nazism.But Minnelli added gaudy colors ,typical of the fifties melodrama ,and special effects -the four horsemen who will come back ,particularly later when chic people are dancing while war is raging outside.Actually this scene is so strong as the rest of the movie seems like a let-down afterward .All that takes place in Paris does not rise above average.The film never recaptures the intensity of its beginning,except for its very last minutes,with the final confrontation between the two cousins -it's difficult to admit,though ,that Glenn Ford and Karl Boehm are relatives.
If a strong beginning and an effective ending make a good film ,you can say that Minnelli's extravaganza is worth a watch.It's not among his best works ,but if critic Georges Sadoul said "the first sequence is sheer aggressive bad taste" ,do not forget that "good taste" does not necessarily make great works.
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