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The Faust legend retold (loosely) and applied to a mentally disturbed patient in a hospital run by a doctor of dubious sanity himself. The patient (Burton) offers the innocent orderly (Bridges) vast riches if he'll help him escape. Written by
Steve Crook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There appears to be no truth in the rumor that spread in the 1980s to the effect that Richard Burton had so disliked this flop that he had bought up the negative and had it destroyed so that no-one would ever see it again. However, it is a very hard film to see, despite its stars. See more »
"It is inelegant to rob from the poor before you rob from the rich...besides, it takes far too much time."
Reworking of the Faust legend has a slovenly, nose-picking orderly at a mental institution helping a patient to escape in exchange for a life of privilege. Taking along a roadside diner waitress on his journey, the young man eventually becomes one of the most successful men in the world--but at the expense of personal happiness. Crummy-looking satirical enterprise, scattered with absurdist humor and "Cleopatra" in-jokes, has enough interest in it for about 40 minutes of its length. The quirky match-up of material and cast (a haggard Richard Burton, an overly-tanned Elizabeth Taylor, and a pitilessly miscast Beau Bridges) can't carry the poorly-paced film beyond that. Taylor, in a variety of wigs, gives the picture a little bounce in the early stages; but when she's turned into a vindictive shrew, her role seems to evaporate--and yet she hangs around without anything to do. Bridges gives a ruinous performance; attempting to play a rough-hewn rube, the well-spoken actor cannot get a grip on his role. There's no story arc showing us the passage of time, and each new episode looks like it was cooked up on the spot. Director Peter Ustinov (who has an extraneous role as a psychiatrist with a Viennese accent) flails about behind the camera, alternating rude comedy with a messy narrative structure that simply gets worse as the film progresses. * from ****
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