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Viva Maria! (1965)

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Somewhere in Middle America, 1907: Maria II, the daugther of an Irish terrorist, meets after the dead of her father Maria I, the singer of an circus. She decided to stay with the circus. On... See full summary »



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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paulette Dubost ...
Mme Diogène
Gregor von Rezzori ...
Diogène (as Gregor Von Rezzori)
Poldo Bendandi ...
Claudio Brook ...
The Great Rodolfo
Carlos López Moctezuma ...
Rodríguez (as Carlos Lopez Moctezuma)
Jonathan Eden ...
Juanito Diogène
Francisco Reiguera ...
Father Superior
Adriana Roel ...
José Baviera ...
Don Alvaro
José Ángel Espinosa 'Ferrusquilla' ...
The Dictator of San Miguel (as José Ángel Espinoza)
Fernando Wagner ...
Father of Maria I
Roberto Pedret ...


Somewhere in Middle America, 1907: Maria II, the daugther of an Irish terrorist, meets after the dead of her father Maria I, the singer of an circus. She decided to stay with the circus. On her debue as a singer, she accidently invented strip-tease, that made the circus famous. But accidently they meet an sozialist revolutionair and finding themselves leading this revolution against the dictaor, the capitalists and the church. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Viva Fun! Viva Can-Can! Viva Adventure! Viva Strip Tease! Viva Love! Viva Boom-Boom! See more »


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| | |

Release Date:

18 December 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Viva Maria  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$2,200,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


George Hamilton replaced Alain Delon, who quit the film shortly before production began. See more »


The Pound sign on the wanted poster has been placed after the figure. This is the French practice. In England it would be in front. See more »


Referenced in The Legend of Rita (2000) See more »


Ah Les P'tites Femmes De Paris
" (uncredited)
Music by Georges Delerue and lyrics by Jean-Claude Carrière
Performed by Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau
See more »

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User Reviews

Bosoms and ballistics but still frothy and feminine
22 June 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Louis Malle made a total of four films with Jeanne Moreau that couldn't be more different. He established critical acclaim for both of them with Lift to the Scaffold, then a ban for the amorous Les Amants. A dark meditation came five years later with The Fire Within, followed almost immediately by this highly commercial, enjoyable, lightweight romp.

Viva Maria! is a joyous celebration of female bonding across early twentieth century Mexico as the two Marias – played by Jeanne Moreau and Bridget Bardot – right wrongs, take their fill of life and love, lead a revolution, blow things up, invent striptease, and help men to shoot round corners.

We meet the first Maria while she is still a child. Before the opening credits have finished, she has gaily helped Dad blow up the English many times. Ireland 1891. London 1894. Gibraltar 1901. Finally in Central America she has to blow up Dad while the baddies are still shooting him on the bridge. Undeterred, she continues alone, now a young woman (in the form of tomboy Bridget Bardot), catching a train on the run as we catch the last of the opening titles. It was a hectic race. As she finally sits down on the tail of the train we enjoy her sigh of exertion and relief.

Before long, Bardot Maria has teamed up with travelling singer, Moreau Maria – who she holds at knifepoint before becoming bosom buddies. The next visual gasp comes as Bardot takes off her cap – a moment Malle milks for all it is worth. Somehow concealed under the boyish hat, long golden locks fall down. Bardot sheds her androgynous Calamity Jane look for full-on pout and the camera lingers knowingly. This pistol-totin' gal will bed whoever takes her fancy and chalk their names up on the inside wall of the wagon. It is the classic Bardot imagery – that inspired both 'bardolâtrie' and comments of noted feminist Simone de Beauvoir defending her as a manifestation of a new, artifice-free type of femininity, "as much a hunter as she is a prey."

During the tours of the musical theatre circus, the pair perform a number where an accidentally ripped dress leads them to accidentally invent striptease. Although they only bare down to their knickerbockers, the show is a smash hit, considerably raising the troupe's profile and income.

By this point, silly but hilariously executed gags have become well-entrenched. Men pay to see the show with chickens if they have no money. English colonials speak with frightfully proper accents and discuss tea. The two girls join the revolution after Bardot, who has a common sense objection to injustice, takes a pot shot at a local bad guy chief. (St Miguel is owned by four families – details are hazy – presumably the English stay in the background drinking tea and the Catholic Church stays with whoever's winning.) The Marias are being worshipped by the populace (due to another hilarious accident) and put to the Rack – the Catholic Inquisition having apparently stayed over a few centuries in Mexico rather than returning to Spain. The Mexican Inquisition is linked visually to that other popular pogrom, the Klu Klux Klan.

Viva Maria! almost sags in the middle from the weight of non-stop action. It is a great tribute to Malle's skill that everything has gone so perfectly when so much could easily have gone wrong. But just as it starts to get a bit samey, Moreau surprises everyone, audience and other characters alike, by a big soliloquy after the death of her hunky proletariat lover. "It's her big scene," comments one of the locals as Moreau descends the stairs with Shakespearean majesty. Perhaps it was this scene that clinched her Bafta in a close race with Bardot that year.

The last half proves a roller coaster of inventive explosions and gags that keep us endlessly on the edge of our seat. Viva Maria! is straight entertainment with no attempt to be deep and meaningful. Yet, unlike many lightweight mainstream films, its dominant ideologies are refreshingly subversive.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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