Slapstick comedy based on the play by George Bernard Shaw. A stiff English officer, captain Charles Edstaston (Peter O'Toole), and his fiancée Claire arrive in St Petersburg. Edstaston is ... See full summary »
Slapstick comedy based on the play by George Bernard Shaw. A stiff English officer, captain Charles Edstaston (Peter O'Toole), and his fiancée Claire arrive in St Petersburg. Edstaston is brought to the imperial court to seek an audience with the empress Catherine (Jeanne Moreau). He obtains an interview with her courtier, the drunken Potemkin (Zero Mostel), who ends up carrying him in his arms to the empress and dumping him into her royal bed. From this moment on, the hapless Edstaston endeavours to escape from the clutches of the sex crazed empress and leave the city with his English fiancée. Written by
Great Catherine is the last Shaw play to have been made into a movie. And no wonder considering the slaughter these people made of this one. Not only is this the worst filming of a Shaw play ever created (though Sophia Loren's and Peter Sellers' The Millionairess gives it a good run in the awful department) it is for me one of the worst films of any kind that I've ever seen. If you think that people falling down drunk throughout a film (Zero Mostel's Potemkin) is amusing this film is for you. I however think this sort of baloney action is tedious and very unfunny. The only redeeming feature in this film is the Tiomkin score and the Russian peasants' greatly choreographed free for all at the ball. I used to think that what killed this film was the director's slowing down the action of the repartee from trippingly fast to turgidly slow but now having seen the film all the way through on TCM recently I've decided that every other part of the project likewise contributes to its stinkeroo lack of quality. Moreau and O'Toole swimming around fully clothed in the water of the destroyed model Bunker Hill battle---give me a break! To think of O'Toole participating in such a fiasco after Lawrence of Arabia, The Ruling Class, My Favorite Year, and countless other films in which he acts up a storm leaves me very unhappy and disappointed. I agree with another of your reviewers: if you want to see a film of a Shaw play this one should not be the one you see first! Both thumbs as far down as they can get.
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