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A fascinating prelude to Rossellini's series of historical films made for television, Vanina Vanini suffers a bit from the desire to showcase star Sandra Milo (wife of the producer) -- not a very interesting actress -- but its attention to historical detail is extremely interesting. See, for example, the scene in which prisoners are forged into their chains -- astonishing and vivid. Laurent Terzieff is excellent (and looks terrific), as is (and does) Martine Carol. I saw this film at the Cinematheque Francaise in a decent print. It was preceded and followed by talks by an uncredited co-scenarist, Jean Gruault, who revealed that, to highlight Milo, the producer insisted on cutting three reels (about a half hour's running time), most of it focusing on Carol's character. The producer destroyed the negative, but a few years later a print was found of all the missing material. In a dismal twist of fate, a fire in the suburban Paris warehouse where it was stored destroyed -- definitively -- the last remnants of this missing material. Pity, as the film is a little hard to follow as it stands and, according to Gruault, the lost material provided much of the motivation that is lacking.
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