Set in the Haiti of "Papa Doc" Duvalier, The Comedians tells the story of a sardonic Welsh hotel owner and his encroaching fatalism as he watches Haiti sink into barbarism and poverty. ... See full summary »
Set in the Haiti of "Papa Doc" Duvalier, The Comedians tells the story of a sardonic Welsh hotel owner and his encroaching fatalism as he watches Haiti sink into barbarism and poverty. Complications include his inability to sell the hotel so he can leave, a friendship with a rebel leader, some politically "charged" hotel guests, an affair with the German-born wife of a South American ambassador, and the manipulations of a British arms dealer who's in over his head. Written by
Max Chandler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the last few shots in the movie, as the Character is leaving the airport, there is initially a departing Vickers VC10 airliner flying overhead from right to left, this changes to a close up, followed by a shot of the same airliner now flying into the distance - unfortunately this is different 4 engine Jetliner, probably a Boeing 707. See more »
Papa Doc allows us to study the theory of communism. If there were no communists at all, what help would he get from the United States?
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Burton and Guinness Head the Intrigue in Graham Greene's Haiti
A ship of fools docks in Port-au-Prince, and the disembarking passengers include a local businessman, an idealistic former U.S. presidential candidate and his wife, and a self-confident British major. The film's credentials are incredible; the cast includes Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Alec Guiness, Peter Ustinov, Lillian Gish, and James Earl Jones; Graham Greene wrote the script from his own novel; and Peter Glenville provided the taut direction. Given the talent involved, perhaps expectations raised the bar for "The Comedians" too high for any film to reach. Although the results do not represent a pinnacle for any of these artists, "The Comedians" is an engrossing tale set against the nightmarish backdrop of Papa "Doc" Duvalier's repressive regime in Haiti. A thick tense atmosphere envelops the film from the outset. Arrests, beatings, corpses, intimidation, bribes, murders, and threats paint Duvalier's Haiti in shades of blood and terror. In 1967, the Taylor-Burton romance was still in the tabloids, and the film's illicit romance depicted by the world-famous pair was still titillating. However, time has dimmed the scandal, and the film has benefited. Greene's story and the acting talent are no longer over-shadowed.
The still ravishing Taylor, who affects a German-accent as the wife of Ustinov, a cuckolded foreign ambassador, is involved with Burton, a local hotel owner. While arguably the least-interesting aspect of the film, their liaison is integral to the story. Meanwhile, Paul Ford and his wife, Gish, seek to establish a vegetarian center in Duvalierville, a never-will-be Utopian community, and a shady braggart with the wrong connections, Guinness, attempts an arms sale to Duvalier's henchmen. The visitors, the diplomats, and their local connections are embroiled in Haitian political conflicts and dangerous encounters with Duvalier's thugs, the dreaded Tonton Macoute.
Greene's script is literate, and the performances are effective. The bevy of international stars is enhanced and ably supported by such pros as Paul Ford, Cicely Tyson, Raymond St. Jacques, Roscoe Lee Browne, and George Stanford Brown. Although short on action, "The Comedians" is long on suspense and tension. While the film certainly remains a staple for fans of Taylor and Burton, Glenville's fine production deserves to be seen and appreciated, not only for its lustrous stars, but also for throwing a spotlight on Haiti's nightmarish past.
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