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After the success of "The V.I.P.s" the year before, Anthony Asquith and Terence Rattigan are at it again with uneven results. The excuse this time is a Rolls Royce that passes hands from star to star. It is a formula used before many times, most successfully in Julian Duvivier's "Tales of Manhattan" in which a dinner jacket plays an important part in the destinies of Edward G Robinson, Charles Laughton, Henry Fonda and Paul Robson among others. More recently the formula was used by John Badham in his "The Gun" and then Martin Donovan in the lyrically powerful "Seeds of Tragedy" in which the Rolls Royce there is cocaine. Terence Rattigan was master at dialogue and his characters tended to move in confined spaces, take "Separated Tables" for instance. In "The Yellow Rolls Royce" we travel from England to Italy to Eastern Europe and the only confinement Rattigan finds for his characters is the interior of the luxury car. On the first segment, Rex Harrison and Jeanne Moreau show Rattigan at his best, they are great fun to watch. Harrison, playing a big shot at the foreign office, does wonderful things with Rattigan's words. On the second episode Shirley MacLaine and Art Cartney are lovely as a gangster's moll and her minder but the Italo-American gangster, as played by George C Scott, is so over the top that, practically, sinks the whole little segment. French star Alain Delon plays an Italian gigolo of sorts. He is beautiful to look at but hopeless at delivering Rattigan's lines. On the third episode Ingrid Bergman plays Ingrid Bergman, beautifully and Omar Shariff plays Omar Shariff, just as beautifully. Joyce Grenfell plays a cameo as Bergman's companion, as usually, when she's on, she steals the scene. As you may have gathered, this is the kind of picture that one would enjoy the most on a rainy Sunday afternoon. That in itself is a recommendation.
An impressive line up of noted international actors was accrued for this three part film, with the title car serving as the connective tissue between episodes (which occur several years apart.) Harrison leads with a tale involving the purchase of the vehicle for his wife as a belated anniversary gift. His character could almost be a cousin to Henry Higgins and is played in much the same manner, though with a slightly more serious and sentimental edge. The wife (Moreau, in a pretty wooden portrayal) turns out not to be so deserving of the Rolls. This sequence is lavishly appointed with impressive sets and costumes and that "veddy" British air, but winds up being pretty uneventful. Next up is Scott as a gangster touring Italy with his sidekick Carney and his moll MacLaine (who, in a blonde wig looks and acts alarmingly similar to Renee Zellweger in "Chicago"!) They purchase the car to get them to his home town. However, when Scott has to return to the U.S. to take out an enemy, MacLaine becomes enamored of a local gigolo (Delon) and pursues a tentative romance with him. Miscast Scott is aloof and hammy at the same time, but wears some nice suits. Carney does some nice, low key work. MacLaine (with her chewing gum, which should have gotten billing!) wears a bit thin with all the schtick and overacting, but she pulls off a few decent moments. The real highlight of this section (and of the entire film!) is the jaw-droppingly beautiful sight of the impossibly beautiful Alain Delon. Slathered in tan body make-up, his light blue eyes stand out like pools of spring water. His charm and lean good looks overwhelm even the striking location scenery. Finally, Bergman purchases the car to get her into Yugoslavia during WWII. Sharif bums a ride and eventually involves her in the transport of resistance fighters across rugged terrain. Bergman looks terrific in the early part of this story and creates an unusual and intriguing character, complete with a yapping Pekinese and a hilarious cohort (Grenhall, in a hilarious performance that is way too brief.) She and Sharif make an odd, but attractive pair. The film is beautiful to look at (even if the fabled title car looks like a rather unattractive taxi!) However, the stories just aren't memorable enough to make this film really matter. Very little occurs in them and there is precious little dramatic payoff in each one. The director had previously done the stiflingly static "The V.I.P.'s" and, though this film is far more opened up and varied, the overall layer of reserve is still in place. Still, it's great to see the various actors doing their thing, especially Delon and Bergman, and there are several beautiful scenic shots. In the end, it's a classy, sometimes stagnant, but always elegant film.
This movie presents three stories one after the other, as we follow the
fortunes of the first and subsequent owners of the yellow Rolls of the
title. First, Rex Harrison buys it as a present for his erring wife, Jeanne
Moreau. She uses an anniversary party to flaunt her boyfriend, Edmund
Purdom. The car then makes its way into the hands of Mafiosi George C Scott
and his moll Shirley MacLaine. She falls for French photographer Alain
Delon (and who can blame her?). Finally, the car plays its part in
international politics when Ingrid Bergman and Omar Sharif take it on a
Anthony Asquith's film survives because of its construction, using the car as a lynchpin for three very different stories, character combinations, and situations. The car remains the star (perhaps because of its colour) but there are enjoyable performances here too. It isn't a challenging or particularly exciting film, but helps to pass the time. Personally I find it a better British film centring on a car than the earlier Genevieve, but that might just be my own taste.
All the three actresses are beautiful and attractive: some honest and some
dishonest. The men remain the drones to the queen bee in all the three
Jeanne Moreau is probably the weakest of the trio but elegant in her role as a wife who has a young lover. Shirley Maclaine is the classical stunning dumb blonde who has to make a choice to step into a stable, rich married life. The fascinating Ingrid Bergman chooses to step down from a wealthy peerage to a realistic rustic lifestyle using charming wit for achieving an honest end.
This is Asquith's last film with Jack Hildyard's cinematography that is patchy but stunning at times. As a film it is average but the casting and the performances of the three ladies and George C Scott are notable.
What a visual treat to see the scenery of Europe, along with the acting talents of some of my very favorite performers! Three couples own a fabulous car over a period of years, each with a story worth telling. Rex Harrison presents a touching, surprisingly sympathetic husband who loves his wife too much. Jeanne Moreau is the cheating wife, probably the weakest female of the three. In act two, Shirley MacLaine shines as the gangster moll with a heart, who falls in love with the impossibly gorgeous Alain Delon. George C. Scott plays a part totally unlike any of his others, and Art Carney is a sweet cameo.I especially loved the final act of the trio, when aristocratic Ingrid Bergman, in a multi-layered performance, helps resistance fighter Omar Sharif (I could watch him brush his teeth for two hours!) transport his colleagues to safety in Yugoslavia during WWII. The car is almost a character in itself, as is Bergman's little dog, who plays her part with gusto. I especially loved the comedic moments so beautifully played by Ms. Bergman. She and Sharif make a gorgeous, sensitive couple, and are eye candy for those of us who love fanciful, impossible love affairs. A wonderful film for a rainy afternoon.
And also some ravishing scenery. This movie has three separate segments, all of them well done in spite of a pretty tepid script. The actors are magnificent but I would have to say that Shirley MacLaine was amazing as a gangster's moll who falls in love and then sacrifices that love to save his life. Beautifully acted. Omar and Ingrid also shine in the segment about fighting in the hills of Yugoslavia. Of course in all three of the stories the males are mere foils for the females and the car itself. This movie is definitely a "guilty pleasure." 7 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The yellow Rolls-Royce" is the best 1940s film made in the 1960s. A tryptich by two artists,Mr Anthony Asquith and Mr Terence Rattigan, it is curiously old-fashioned yet ageless.All three episodes concern love and its betrayal affecting the owners of the car - but it might as well be a walking stick or an armchair,any artefact would have done as a link for the stories. Mr Asquith was that rare thing a Gentleman film-maker.As befits that somewhat rarefied status his work was often elegant,tasteful and pleasing rather than "challenging" and "cutting edge",in other words he knew how to put bums on seats whilst making films that assumed a certain degree of literacy in his audience.He could coax performances beyond the call of duty from previously unsuspected sources viz:- Dirk Bogarde in "Libel" and Paul Massey in "Orders to kill". He is on safe ground with Rex Harrison and Ingrid Bergman but neither Jeanne Moreau,Shirley Maclaine nor George C.Scott are at their best. Alain Delon,at the peak of his beauty,photographs well but will not feel this movie has added to his reputation.Omar Sharif as usual gazes soulfully at the camera.Two years in from "Lawrence of Arabia" that's just about acceptable.Unfortunately 40 years later he's still doing it. Never in the history of movies has so much been owed to one role by one actor.Almost in passing Bergman manages to act him off the screen ,he is so outclassed I nearly felt sorry for him. The British contingent seem happiest with Mr Rattigan's dialogue. Although he never quite got round to creating believable working class speech-patterns he was on far surer ground with characters like the Marquess of Frinton especially if they were played by old friends like Rex Harrison who plays the cuckolded aristo as if to the Manor born. His beloved wife,for whom he buys the eponymous Rolls-Royce,is played by the remarkable Jeanne Moreau still fresh from her triumph in "Jules et Jim".She doesn't seem to believe in her character,perhaps doubting that any intelligent woman would prefer cipher Edmund Purdom to clever witty sexy and seriously rich Rex Harrison. In the second segment George C.Scott is an Italian-American gangster in Europe with fiancée Shirley Maclaine who sees the car and falls in love with it."My baby wants a Royce-Rolls - my baby gets a Royce-Rolls!" he declaims ,gurning furiously.He does a lot of that. Miss Maclaine also falls in love with gigolo Alain Delon,not so likely to be greeted approvingly by her affianced. Art Carney does a nice turn as her bodyguard/confidant but otherwise this is the least satisfying part of the film.I can't make up my mind as to whether Mr Rattigan can't write convincing dialogue for Americans or they can't speak his dialogue convincingly. Finally the bewitching Miss Bergman gets involved with partisans in the Balkans during world war two.She and Joyce Grenfell enjoy themselves hugely until Omar Sharif comes along to spoil it. It is beyond Puffin Asquith's powers of persuasion to get me to believe that Miss Bergman would fall for the cow-eyed one,even allowing for massive amounts of dramatic licence. Still,"It's only a movie,Ingrid",as Mr Hitchcock once said to her,and I don't suppose for a minute she took it very seriously.Nevertheless despite all this,"The yellow Rolls-Royce" falls nicely into my movie-going comfort zone.It has big names in sympathetic roles,first-class production values,lots of familiar supporting actors,its made with love and care by consummate professionals and if there is a sexier sound on this earth than Jeanne Moreau speaking English I have yet to hear it. Try to have a box of "Quality Street" handy when you watch it and you will extract the full benefit from "The yellow Rolls-Royce"experience.
A very enjoyable vintage film which the likes are not made anymore. Usually these all star cast epics are not too good, but this on and THE V I P's are well worth seeing. Three stories revolve around a yellow Rolls Royce with a common thread of back-seat "goings on". All three episodes are well done and photographed. The scenery is magnificent as is the music score. While all the actors are perfect in their roles, INGRID BERGMAN is the stand-out. This lady could do no wrong. SHIRLEY MACLAINE does her Shirley Maclaine to the hilt. A character very much like her earlier work in SOME CAME RUNNING. Since movies like these are no longer made, this is a must see for those enthusiasts who love old fashion movie making. Just out on DVD the transfer is wonderful. Too mad no extras as this one cries out for a commentary by at least one of the surviving stars.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Yellow Rolls Royce is a sort of a cinematic epiphany. I had seen a
few parts of it in the past but recently thanks to TCM I was able to
see the entire movie. The movie is broken up into three stories. Rex
Harrison's story, with French actress Jeanne Moreau, begins the movie
and immediately you are given one of life's most, if not THE most,
You have a proud rich married man with everything he wants. He gets the ball rolling with the yellow Rolls Royce by purchasing it brand new for his wife(Moreau) as an anniversary present. Harrison is confident, classy, debonair and charming. He knows what he wants and he gets it.
But when he catches his wife cheating on him..we see a man utterly destroyed. There are a lot of fine examples in movies of what love can do to a person. Harrison's performance, as subtle and subdued as it is, is staggering. It's like cutting a man in two and seeing his innards in all their glory. In a ways it's profound, as if a new truth were revealed and a new reaction resulted.
I've seen a few of Harrison's performances in various films and I've had respect for him. With The Yellow Rolls Royce, Harrison turns in an extremely moving and touching performance with what little screen time he has due to the length of his respective story. The tortured look on Harrison's face as he makes his way to his beloved yellow Rolls Royce and his beloved wife is worth seeing this movie alone. When he hangs his head low next to his gold cup winning horse, you see a side of a man that probably never existed before that moment. As someone calls to him, he straightens himself, adjusts, turns around..and we see a man forever changed. Very few movies can get something like that across in such an effective way.
So what is one of, if not THE, most important lessons of life learned through Harrison's rich tale? You can seemingly have it all and in reality have nothing. Amidst his riches and ever-growing cache of prizes, we see a man terribly humbled and changed by the discovery of his wife's cheating ways. Towards the end of his story when he proclaims that he will hate living from now on, you believe it and you can sympathize with him and his broken heart because we've all been through it. Love changes you, especially when it damages you.
~ When the next story begins with George C. Scott, Art Carney and Shirley McClaine we are ready for something lighter, funnier and we get it. But there's still plenty of angst to go around, whether in the heart or the back seat of the yellow Rolls Royce.
There's a wonderful moment in an Italian showroom when the salesman briefly explains how the car got 20,000 miles on its odometer. He mentions a maharajah or something like that losing the car while gambling. It makes you want to see what happened in the interim between the first and second story in the movie! The second story of a mobster, his moll and their keeper/buddy/Art Carney is a good one. Light-hearted, but as I said, it still has some weight to it because it's still dealing with matters of love.
This segment is wonderful, the only detracting thing is the horrible makeup job they did to poor Alain Delon! I realize he's supposed to be Italian(Delon is French) but they didn't have to apply the tan makeup so heavy. It's not a terribly distracting thing, although it makes you want to see what Delon really looks like without the brownie batter. The guys handsome with or without it and he emits a charismatic and dare I say "amoral" charm. As a matter of fact, this second story can be titled "Amoral Amore". See the movie, you'll know why.
Oh and also, forget domani! ~ Now the third and last act is a special one. It stars Ingrid Bergman as a politico/ambassador and Omar Sharif as a Yugoslavian revolutionary. Some people may see the parallels between Sharif's role here and his 14 hour opus mega epic Doctor Zhivago.
I recently saw Dr. Z in its entirety for the first time and I was completely underwhelmed.
In my humble opinion, Omar Sharif does more here with his roll in The Yellow Rolls Royce and by turn is GIVEN more to do in his 30 plus minutes segment than all of the illustriously overrated Doctor Zhivago. Hell, they guy sounded infinitely more poetic than his supposed poetic character in Dr. Z!
Ingrid Bergman: an absolute hoot. There are a lot of transformations in this movie. You can see characters actually change, transform and evolve, the yellow Rolls Royce being one of them! It goes from riches to revolutionary rages. Bergman's Miss Millett role is perhaps the character in the movie that goes through the most drastic transformation.
At first she is frigid, uncompassionate, uncaring and selfish. She wants to eat, not be bothered and you better get her her martini. She cares little for people or warnings of invasions. Omar Sharif charms his way into her life and as a result, she changes. She becomes a different person. She becomes caring, compassionate and selfless. It's a remarkable role and I'm not about to compare it to any of her other roles because I haven't seen a lot of Ingrid Bergman's movies.
There's a moment at the end of the movie in which she reflects upon her adventures, turns around to look at the yellow Rolls Royce and she steps back out of frame so we see only the car.
It's quite a moment when a legendary actress gets out of her way for us to look upon a car.
But oh what a car it is.
I found this film fairly enjoyable. The film involves three stories with completely different casts with the rolls-royce linking the three. The second and third were much more entertaining, as the first story was portrayed rather lifelessly by its cast. I was amazed at how much humor Bergman was able to inject into such a serious situation in the final portion of the movie. Although she did show an ability for comedy over her career, this is something she seems to be rarely given credit for.
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