"La Bella Lola" is clearly a re-telling of "The Lady of the Camilles" novel and sometimes a frame-by-frame remake of George Cukor's "Camille" starring Greta Garbo.(Compare the famous last scene when Lola dies in her lover's arms)
However, this film was conceived exclusively as a vehicle for Sara Montiel who in the 1960s was one of the world's top box office attractions. Consecuently "Camille" receives the full Montiel treatment. Here, she is not just a courtesan, but a "belle epoque" popular singer who, in spite of a morally dubious background, is a good girl. Lots of songs (enough to market the soundtrack album), elegant-flashy gowns and even flashier jewelry, lavish Eastmancolor, luxurious sets, plenty of nostalgia and of course, a passionate-bigger than-life romance, all Montiel trademarks.
In other words, the film does not serve "Camille" but Sara; Dumas Jr. doesn't even get credited for the storyline. But who cares? Here we get Montiel in all her glorious beauty, singing, loving and suffering as only she can. Her crying rendition of "La Paloma" in full close up is mesmerizing. And although Greta Garbo she ain't, she has her own acting style which served her well for many years-thank you very much.
"La Bella Lola" is recommended for Montiel fans and might prove interesting to anyone wishing to see what a real star was like. They just don't make creatures such as this anymore...
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