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Travels with My Aunt (1972)

6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 1,128 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 9 critic

At his mother's funeral, stuffy bank clerk Henry Pulling meets his Aunt Augusta, an elderly eccentric with more-than-shady dealings, who pulls him along on a whirlwind adventure, as she ... See full summary »

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Title: Travels with My Aunt (1972)

Travels with My Aunt (1972) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Henry Pulling
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Zachary nicknamed 'Wordsworth' (as Lou Gossett)
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Ercole Visconti
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Tooley
Robert Flemyng ...
Crowder
José Luis López Vázquez ...
Achille Dambreuse
Raymond Gérôme ...
Mario
Daniel Emilfork ...
Colonel Hakim
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Louise
John Hamill ...
Crowder's Man
David Swift ...
Police inspector John Sparrow
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Bobby
Valerie White ...
Mme Dambreuse
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Elegant Man
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Storyline

At his mother's funeral, stuffy bank clerk Henry Pulling meets his Aunt Augusta, an elderly eccentric with more-than-shady dealings, who pulls him along on a whirlwind adventure, as she attempts to rescue an old lover. Written by Kathy Li

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Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

April 1973 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Travels with My Aunt  »

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Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joy Bang auditioned for the role of Tooley (the part played by Cindy Williams) by reading for Katharine Hepburn but lost the part when Hepburn left the project. Cybill Shepherd also read for the role but was told by director George Cukor that 'she couldn't play comedy' after the audition. See more »

Quotes

Aunt Augusta: It's the best way to win a woman, Harry, to make her laugh.
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Connections

Referenced in NYPD Blue: Travels with Andy (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Serenade of Love
Lyrics by Jackie Trent
Music by Tony Hatch
Performed by Petula Clark
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User Reviews

Just Misses Being a Screen Landmark
22 May 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In a plot as zany as any the Marx Brothers could have hilariously mangled, the characters of Travels With My Aunt whirl you along with them through their oddball adventures. This is a film that just missed being a cinema landmark. But miss it does.

Travels With My Aunt has everything going for it: splendid performances, helzapoppin' pacing (except for one or two brief languishments in the directorial doldrums), clever writing (adapted from Graham Greene's endearing story), and a cast working the material for all it's worth. So why does it miss?

It misses because when it needs to be trying hard it lays back; and when it needs to lay back it tries too hard. And, more importantly, because it never grounds itself in the solid realm of the believable.

ALlso, every VHS print I've seen suffers from sound so muddy that I found myself rewinding to catch, and enjoy, some of the film's funniest lines. The editing on VHS prints also leaves a lot to be desired; a hectic, zany film doesn't need any "help" from eye-startling jumps past the occasional few sprocket holes.

Nevertheless the comic performances are brilliant, especially Louis Gossett Jr.'s as the patois-butchering, potheaded, half-mystical, half-cutthroat, hair-trigger-tempered Wordsworth. Maggie Smith's Aunt Augusta (a perfect name for a character who's anything but august) reigns like a mad queen over the whole cast throughout Augusta's self-narrated, self-indulgent, breathless reverie and search for her past loves & losses & triumphs. Alec McCowen plays Henry Pulling with perfectly understated aplomb, making you believe that his dowager aunt is leaving him breathless, bewildered, and yet bewitched by the world she leads him, from out of his insipid workaday life, to experience. As Tooley the young Cindy Williams deftly sends-up the pop-culture-soaked American youth of the time on a European spree: neither of Tooley's two feet ever seem to touch the earth, but her heart reaches out to touch Henry Pulling. And Henry, being Henry, manages to mismanage - but later learns that mismanaging is just part of...c'est la vie!

This film urges you to stop taking life and yourself too seriously, and to instead, as the old Schlitz beer spots used to exhort, "Grab for all the Gusto you can!" This is all well and good, but the film wants some sort of bottom, a sense of grounding, a matter of connection that's just not there despite the lovely pathos the energetic characters generate. Maybe it's that a film that's not just a vehicle for comic antics can't be all sparks and no fuel? That worked for the Marx Brothers, but their "storylines" were mere props for their well-rehearsed antics and brain-boggling doubletalk. But Travels With My Aunt actually tries to tell a touching human tale - yet, like Tooley's, the film's feet never touch the ground that an engaging tale needs to convince, to captivate its audience.

In the end, which seems to leave cast and audience suspended somewhere between earth and a fifth dimension, you wonder: is Maggie Smith's character really Henry Pulling's mother, and not his "aunt"? One thing's for sure: Henry's not going back to being a bank manager, or to anally tending his little garden where the loud trains - of life and experience and adventure - had always, until now, passed him by.


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