6.5/10
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34 user 16 critic

The Comedians (1967)

Approved | | Drama | 31 October 1967 (USA)
A cynical Welsh hotel owner secretly romances a diplomat's wife in Haiti under the violent reign of the despot "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Brown
...
Martha Pineda
...
Major H. O. Jones
...
Ambassador Manuel Pineda
...
Smith
...
Mrs. Smith
...
Henri Philipot
...
Petit Pierre
...
Mrs. Philipot
...
Dr. Magiot
...
Michel
Douta Seck ...
Joseph
...
Captain Concasseur
...
Marie Therese
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Storyline

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 <netropic@speakeasy.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They lie, they cheat, they destroy...they even try to love.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

31 October 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los comediantes  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is the first film where Richard Burton was paid more than his wife, Elizabeth Taylor. Burton got $750,000 while Taylor, the first actor to receive a $1 million fee for a single picture, settled for a mere half-a-million. See more »

Goofs

When Brown and Jones wake up in the country graveyard, it is supposed to be morning and their shadows are clear on the large gravestone right behind them where they slept, even though it is bright all around them. But as Brown moves through the graveyard, his shadow splits into multiple shadows at different angles, revealing that there are multiple lights from different angles. And in fact, before long several more realistic sun-cast shadows appear on the ground around him from taller objects, pointing in the opposite direction from the artificial lighting, showing that the sun is actually behind and above them, just past noon, and not low in front of them. See more »

Quotes

Brown: I don't believe in causes.
Dr. Magiot: The role of cynic doesn't really suit you, Brown.
Brown: I don't believe in play-acting either.
Dr. Magiot: You imagine because you've lost one faith, you've lost all? You're wrong, Brown. There is always an alternative to the faith we lose.
Brown: I have no faith in faith.
See more »

Connections

References The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Iguana who came in from the Cold....
20 April 2004 | by (Maryland, USA) – See all my reviews

The comments by the reviewer from Dubai, UAE, are much to the point, also recognizing the subtle jibes to the actors' roles in previous films. That Graham Greene wrote both the book and the screenplay, and was on hand during the shooting in Dahomey (information from a brief trailer on the recent TCM showing), gives a depth and complexity to the film that remind one also of Bunuel and Tavernier, in whose hands ironic humor and deadly politics are inevitably a subtext.

Peter Glenville seems not to have been a prolific director, and even his handful of films are not well know to American audiences (possibly "Becket" is an exception, though it has not been replayed in years), but his few works stand out for their dramatic quality, literacy and superb casting. He favored several of the seasoned actors seen here (many Shakespearean trained), Guinness (Prisoner, Hotel Paradiso), Burton (Becket). Once again, when the points of the magic triangle of script, director and cast come together in balance, the result is a superior film (of course we cannot omit the cinematographer, as chosen by the director).

"Comedians" has an unfortunate title that may have contributed to its demise for a popular audience. Its blatant irony belongs in the category of films in which the political matrix is the setting for the revelation (or non-revelation) of character. To name some outstanding examples: "The Third Man," "Spy who came in from the Cold," "Day of the Jackal," "Night of the Iguana," "Wages of Fear."

In this film, the pacing and structure are subtly conceived: even though there is a lot of random killing depicted, the quiet exchange between Burton and Guinness during the latter's escape is the eye of the tornado, with all else raging around it. The young James Earl Jones and other black actors give strong support, and are a match for the sad ennui of Ustinov's diplomat. Taylor, who sports a German accent as Ustinov's wife (the only time she's been called upon to do so?), discharges her role creditably, due in no small part to her chemistry with Burton and to his personal gravitas.

In all, this film and the director Glenville really ought to be better known. It is a sad commentary that a movie made about dictators in 1967 could still be so prescient.

A four **** movie.


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