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Robert Z. Leonard
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Turgid historical saga, a semi-biopic of Napoleon Bonaparte's courtesan sister(!); the overall effect is as improbable as the Hollywood version, DESIREE' (1954), which had focused on the life of the famed French leader's 'girlfriend'.
Gina Lollobrigida is monotonous in the title role (not to mention unconvincing when it comes to the dramatic passages of the plot); incidentally, she had previously worked for the director on THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1957). In support of the star are the likes of Stephen Boyd (who would fare much better playing alongside the Italian sex symbol's rival, Sophia Loren, in THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE ), Raymond Pellegrin (making for a pretty good Napoleon) and Massimo Girotti while Micheline Presle (playing Josephine) and Gabriele Ferzetti put in 'guest appearances'.
At an interminable length of almost 2½ hours, for what amounts to a largely unexciting narrative, the film which, at least, has the virtue of expansive locations and attractive widescreen photography understandably adopts an episodic structure throughout. In fact, the heroine is seen being involved with various lovers (including officer Ferzetti and roguish Hussar Boyd) and husbands (General-turned-Viceroy Girotti and a wimpish Italian Prince) apart from facing such calamities as war, plague, deaths in the family and, finally, the humiliating abdication of Napoleon himself!
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