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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
Vincente Minnelli had it right, he wanted Alain Delon for the role of French/Argentine Julio Desnoyers and he would have been perfect in the part. However MGM insisted on an American, but why Glenn Ford. Back in the late forties he was laughable in the part of Don Jose in The Loves of Carmen with Rita Hayworth. Did anyone at MGM screen that before signing him up for this expensive remake of the silent classic The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse?
Whatever else Glenn Ford was and I'm a big fan, he just doesn't cut it as the second Rudolph Valentino.
So besides a miscast leading man, they had their troubles with the leading lady as well. Ingrid Thulin was trying to break into the international market as fellow Swedes Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman had done before her. Her Swedish accent was way too thick and supposedly she was indecipherable in her scenes. That familiar voice you hear coming from her mouth is that of Angela Lansbury who was dubbed over Thulin's voice. Poor Ingrid still remained a star in Sweden, but never did get any international acclaim.
The rest of the cast is made of various continental types playing French and Germans. The plot of Vincente Blasco Ibanez's original novel is updated from World War I to World War II and changes are made to accommodate the different geopolitical situation in the two wars. Best performance in the film is that of Paul Henreid who plays Thulin's husband who while he's off to war and a POW camp, she's fooling around in Paris with Ford.
Now you can believe she'd have found Valentino irresistible, but not Glenn Ford.
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