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In her filthy cell in Newgate prison Moll Flanders, dubbed 'the wickedest woman in England' tells her story. Born in the gaol, after her mother is transported Moll is raised by the kindly ... See full summary »
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Based on Daniel Defoe's 1722 novel of the famed English adventuress Moll Flanders. Moll is first engaged as a maid by an eighteenth-century English family chiefly composed of sex-starved males. She marries the imbecilic second son, who prefers booze to copulation. Too embarrassed to speak the truth of him, she demurely tells friends, "Modesty forbids me to reveal the secrets of the marriage bed." She then meets a rich banker, becomes maid-companion to a count and his lady, and finally weds the banker, but leaves him on their first night together. She then joins a group of thieves, falls in love Jemmy, and becomes their number one asset before she is sent to prison. After she is released, she finds Jemmy, and, in the end, everyone is on an America-bound boat except the banker, who fortuitously dies of a heart attack before he has had an opportunity to alter his will. Written by
Does the title leave us in any doubt? This is a film in which every man in Georgian England wants to get into bed with Kim Novak. Well - I can understand that.
As a matter of fact very few of the men succeed. Although Novak looks as gorgeous as ever, if you're expecting to see anything, uh, hot, you'll be disappointed. And you'll have every right to be. A film with so little else going for it really ought to make the most of its centrepiece.
All the same she's sufficiently charming to make the film sort of enjoyable to watch most of the time. Moll is not so innocent as she pretends but more innocent than she thinks - she's hard not to like (and, of course, lust after). Some of the other characters are surprisingly well played. Angela Lansbury and Vittorio di Sica are rather touching as the loving but worldly couple with a tenuous toehold on the aristocracy, and Leo McKern does the rogue's sidekick schtick better than anyone else.
The problem is the script. There's not enough wit or spirit to make a comedy, and it's not played seriously enough to make us care about Moll's plight - it doesn't seem important where or with whom she ends up. There's not even, to be honest, enough story to fill two hours.
Still, you may just get some pleasure out of this movie, if you're in a tolerant mood. The question is thus: is Kim Novak enough to put you in a tolerant mood? For me, the answer is yes.
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