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I saw this film when it was first released in the US (1970, I believe). I found it pessimistic, ugly, and gratuitously violent. I hated it. However it has stayed in my mind not because of its content but because of the circumstances under which I saw it.
I was working the snack counter at a small college-town theater. I don't recall what movie was playing, some inoffensive middle-of-the-road feature that attracted inoffensive middle-of-the-road viewers. The manager had just received Un Conde and wanted to test audience reaction. So he decided to "sneak preview" it--without warning--before the main feature. Looking back I wonder what was going through his mind. Had he even seen the film? At any rate, from almost the first frame characters on screen were getting the crap beat out of them. The audience gasped and began murmuring. The mayhem didn't let up and soon the audience was making for the exits. An angry throng mobbed the ticket counter demanding their money back.
In 1970 excessive violence was relatively uncommon in mainstream films, and Un Conde was right at the cutting edge. It certainly wasn't what this audience had come to see. About twenty minutes into the movie the manager finally stopped the show and put on the scheduled picture. But by that time he'd pretty much cleared the house. With all the refunds the till came up awfully light at the end of the evening.
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