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 <email@example.com>
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 »
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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Peter Glenville's "The Comedians" is a very difficult film for the average viewer. Based on a Graham Greene novel, it's about the political atmosphere in Haiti while under French rule. It was a box office flop in 1967 and is pretty much forgotten today.
That's sad, because this is an important film. Since the departure of Duvalier, the film has the added historical value it didn't have in 1967. It is another entry in the canon of Taylor-Burton collaborations. It also may be the only film in which Alec Guinness, Peter Ustinov, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton all appear in together. Plus, how can you trash a film that flaunts its' Haiti exteriors so joyfully?
The vast Panavision photography will be lost on TV screens, especially in the horrific pan and scan format. The best way to see this film is on a big screen and even that may be impossible these days. The title will confuse many (most will think it's about comedians in a comedy club), but it does have a hidden subtext: these people are "comedians" in a sense. They kid each other endlessly to avoid reality. In that context, "The Comedians" succeeds. It could benefit from some trimming, but that's a small complaint. I can't think of anyone else who would even attempt to make such a challenging film in such a chaotic climate.
***1/2 out of 4 stars
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