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The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)

R  |   |  Drama  |  15 November 1968 (West Germany)
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Reviews: 22 user | 15 critic

A dictatorial film director (Finch) hires an unknown actress (Novak) to play the lead role in a planned movie biography of a late, great Hollywood star.



(teleplay), (teleplay), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lylah Clare / Elsa Brinkmann / Elsa Campbell
Lewis Zarken / Louie Flack
Barney Sheean
Milton Selzer ...
Bart Langner
Rossella Falk ...
Gabriele Tinti ...
Countess Bozo Bedoni
Jean Carroll ...
Becky Langner
Mark Peter Sheean
Coral Browne ...
Molly Luther
Young Girl
James Lanphier ...
1st Legman
Nick Dennis ...
Dave Willock ...


A sexy starlet resembles Lylah Clare, a flamboyant star of the thirties, who died mysteriously and tragically on her wedding night gets a chance to play her in a biographical film directed by Lylah's real-life husband (Peter Finch) and history repeats itself as he falls for her reincarnation. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Overnight, she became a star...Over many nights, she became a legend. See more »




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 November 1968 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

La leyenda de Lylah Clare  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Screenwriter Hugo Butler - a longterm associate of Robert Aldrich - was suffering from failing health when the film was being made and never lived to see it released. See more »


When Elsa is speaking in Lylah's voice, if you look closely you can see that the words are slightly out of sync with Elsa's mouth. See more »


Molly Luther: She's tame enough now, Lewis, but will she turn into a slut like the last one?
See more »


References Two Weeks in Another Town (1962) See more »


Music by Frank De Vol
Lyrics and Vocal by Sibylle Siegfried
See more »

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User Reviews

23 January 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's flawed, yes. It's too long, too slow, and some of the lines and situations are just incomprehensible. On the other hand, its daring in a way most films are not. It dares you to think, imagine, and just relish in the glory if this fictionally great old star. The character of Lylah Clare is based on what seems to be an amalgamation of 1930s icons, not the least of which may include Crawford, Bankhead, Dietrich, Garbo, and Harlow. Then again, she is her own creation. A great subplot concerns the battle of the studio for money-making films and the battle of the director for art. As Ernest Borgnine as the studio head says in one scene, "I don't want to make films. I want to make movies. What do you think we're making here, art?" Kim Novak is well cast and turns in a surprising star turn in a double role, as Lylah Clare and the actress who plays her in a biopic helmed by her late director and husband. The story behind Lylah's death is mysterious and the stuff of legend. Only the director, eager to make a comeback after a 20 year absence from films, seems to know the truth about what happened to Lylah, and he is silent. There are two other superb subplots to the film: one concerns the actress and her possession by the spirit of the late Lylah Clare, and the other subplot concerns the romance between the actress and the director.

The end is shocking. You might not see the eventual conclusion coming. There is terrific symbolism in the dog food advertisement at the end of the film, and the score by DeVol is appropriately lush and atmospheric.

Some of the performances are a bit stilted, as is some of the camera work. The costumes are not always historically correct, but are fetching just the same. The direction is hit-or-miss. The film is way too slow. What holds the film together is the fascinating story and Aldrich's ambition in telling it. He doesn't stop with Lylah's death, but goes on to make a broad and cynical statement about the whole movie industry as a whole. Notice how, when the Lylah's director finally has something deep and heartfelt to say to the reporter, he is cut off. And for what? A dog food commercial. Get it?

Aldrich excelled at dark Hollywood portraits, and this is one of the most intriguing and controversial. No wonder it's so hard to find.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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