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The Balcony (1963)

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Shelley Winters is the madame of a house where customers play out their erotic fantasies, oblivious to a revolution which is sweeping the country. When her old friend, the chief of police (... See full summary »

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Title: The Balcony (1963)

The Balcony (1963) on IMDb 6.1/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Madame Irma
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Police Chief
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Carmen
Peter Brocco ...
Judge
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Penitent
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Bishop
Arnette Jens ...
Horse
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Thief
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Roger
Kent Smith ...
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Storyline

Shelley Winters is the madame of a house where customers play out their erotic fantasies, oblivious to a revolution which is sweeping the country. When her old friend, the chief of police (Peter Falk), asks her to impersonate the missing queen in order to reassure the people and halt the revolution, she offers instead three of her customers to play the general, bishop and chief justice, all of whom have died in the revolution. Written by bajac

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Drama

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Release Date:

4 December 1963 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Balkonen  »

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Trivia

Although initially refused a UK cinema certificate by censor John Trevelyan the film was passed uncut after successful showings by local council authorities. See more »

Soundtracks

The Soldier's Tale
Composed by Igor Stravinsky
Conducted by Robert Craft
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User Reviews

 
A superb rendering of what is probably Genet's best play
30 September 2007 | by (Derry, Ireland) – See all my reviews

Jean Genet's great surrealist comedy was filmed, brilliantly in 1963, by Joseph Strick and is thought to be among the first American art-movies. It's certainly not commercial and Strick makes few real concessions to the medium. It's stage-bound (sound stage-bound?)and no mistake and probably all the better for it and the translation, (it is scripted by Ben Maddow), is first-class.

Set, fundamentally, in a brothel which is more a 'house of illusion' in an unnamed country during a revolution it's about artifice and role-playing, power games for the under-privileged. When the real Minister of Justice, Archbishop and General are killed three of Madame Irma's customers take on the roles under the guidance of the real Chief of Police, (Peter Falk). Nothing really happens and nothing is really resolved. 'You can go home now', Madame Irma tell us, the audience, after the revolution appears to be quashed. Everything is an illusion.she assures us, even real life.

This may well be Genet's best work and Strick and Maddow do it proud. The performances are first-rate. Shelly Winters is particularly fine as the bisexual Madame Irma and Lee Grant is often astonishing as her assistant and part-time lover Carmen. (When this movie came out Grant had yet to make much of an impression on the big screen). Although miscast, Peter Falk handles his speech to the crowds beautifully. Daring in its day, (we have foot fetishism and a lesbian kiss), the film quickly disappeared from the circuits despite very favourable reviews and today is seldom seem. But it is still a classic and really should not be missed.


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