The Portuguese colony of Macao in the 19th century. Mr. Clay is a very rich merchant and the subject of town gossip. He has spent many years in China and is now quite old. He likes his ... See full summary »
The Portuguese colony of Macao in the 19th century. Mr. Clay is a very rich merchant and the subject of town gossip. He has spent many years in China and is now quite old. He likes his clerk Levinsky to read the company's accounts to him at night for relaxation. Tonight Mr. Clay recounts a true story he heard years before about a rich man who paid a poor sailor 5 guineas to father a child with his beautiful young wife. Levinsky says that's a popular old sailor's legend and not true. Mr. Clay has no heir for his fortune and no wife either. He resolves to make the story true... Levinsky approaches Virginie, another clerk's mistress, and strikes a bargain for 300 guineas. Now to find the sailor... Written by
Orson Welles originally planned for this film to be made as part of an anthology of adaptations of stories by Karen Blixen. Originally made for French TV, it was later released in theaters. This movie is available on DVD from The Criterion Collection. See more »
It is very hard on people who want things so badly that they can't do without them. If they can't get these things, it is very hard. And when they do get them, surely it is very hard.
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Welle's film is a great comment on greed and the love of riches, and how futile it is when you can't take it with you after life ends. Wealthy Mr. Clay demands his assistant make the story he heard on ships from sailors come true. He pays the daughter (Jean Moreau) of a business partner he ruined and a poor young sailer (Norman Eishley) to sleep together one night so Clay can be the godfather of the child they conceive since Clay couldn't father children with his own wife. There is an ironic surprise for this plan when it completes, Welles using a brilliant color scheme and expert camera angles through every shot and scene. Clay's character is especially good filling the stuffy, wicked sturdiness of his portrayal almost like greed and evil personified.
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