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Fedora (1978)

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Down-on-his-luck Hollywood producer Barry 'Dutch' Detweiler attempts to lure Fedora, a famous but reclusive film actress out of retirement.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Doctor Vando
Miss Balfour
Mario Adorf ...
Corfu Hotel Manager
Young Barry
Himself - President of the Academy
Himself (as Micheal York)
Hans Jaray ...
Count Sobryanski
Jacques Maury ...
Head Usher
Christine Mueller ...
Young Antonia
Ellen Schwiers ...


The former successful and famous Polish actress Fedora commits suicide at the Mortcerf Station, jumping off in front of a train. The broken Hollywood producer Barry 'Dutch' Detweiler attends the funeral at her house in Paris and recalls that he might have caused her death. Two weeks ago, Dutch traveled to Greece Island of Corfu seeking Fedora out in the Vila Calypso, located in an isolated island owned by the bitter Countess Sobryanski. Fedora has been living an unsocial reclusive life for the last years in the villa with the countess, the plastic surgeon Doctor Vando and her assistant Miss Balfour, since she abandoned the set of a film that she was shooting in London with Michael York. Dutch brings the screenplay with a version of "Anna Karenina" to offer to Fedora, with the promise that investors would finance the film if Fedora accepts the lead role. Fedora, who is impressively young, is receptive to the offer, but the countess and the doctor tell that she is mentally unstable and ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Youth had been a habit of hers for so long that she could not part with it.


Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »





| |

Release Date:

13 September 1978 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Den gådefulde Fedora  »

Box Office


$6,727,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Michael York:  As himself. See more »


When Doctor Vando and Dutch meet in the bar at approximately 30 minutes into the film, there is a closeup of Vando's earring. At the end of the scene as Doctor Vando leaves the bar (approximately 34 minutes), Vando points at his earring. This time, the earring is considerably thinner and smaller. See more »


Doctor Vando: [disbelieving] Jean Sibelius tacky?!?
See more »


References Love (1927) See more »


The Last Spring
Music by Edvard Grieg
Arranged by Miklós Rózsa
See more »

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User Reviews

Good story but treatment past its due date
13 March 2007 | by (the rock) – See all my reviews

I enjoy the kind of outlandish stories like the one found in FEDORA. The whole story is so much larger than life that seeing the sorta mediocre result is disappointing because this story needed grandeur, big budget, big cast, big everything, to elevate the over-the-top story to its sublime glory. Oddly enough (and unfortunately for us) Billy Wilder's movie mimics the film's story to a tee. The story is about a famous but reclusive film star (obviously patterned after Greta Garbo) who lives on an isolated Greek island. A producer/writer (played by a too old William Holden) wants to meet with Fedora and have her come out of retirement so she can star in his new film. Fedora had already retired before but experienced a comeback a few years ago before disappearing from the silver screen, this time for good. When Holden meets Fedora, the woman seems totally crazy. The story that unfolds afterwards is preposterous, soapy, twisted, quasi-operatic and yet fitting, for a story about Hollywood.

The funny thing about FEDORA is how Wilder critiques old Hollywood and the then current Hollywood of the 1970s and proceeds to shoot himself in the foot. The convoluted story of a Hollywood legend unable to live up to her famous past is exactly what happened to Wilder when he decided to direct this film: Wilder was too old to direct this film. FEDORA, the film itself, is a pale example of what the director could do when compared to his films of the past, like SUNSET BOULEVARD and SOME LIKE IT HOT. Not only that, but Wilder also samples his older films' glory to drive his point in FEDORA, which, in turns renders the whole thing even more pathetic than it needed to be.

FEDORA, the film, is not really about the fictional story about a legendary actress but more about Billy Wilder, the director, a bitter old man trying to prove a point by showing to the world how over-the-hill he was.

The casting in FEDORA can only be described as disastrous. Hiring Holden was a very bad idea. His presence kept reminding me of SUNSET BOULEVARD, which even if that film was made in the good old days of the 1950s, was more sharp, more ironic, more iconic, more modern in its understanding of how image can distort reality than anything seen in FEDORA, which was made in 1978. Showing Marthe's breasts does not equate to anything than a pathetic attempt to be with the times. Casting Marthe Keller and Hildegard Knef was also a very bad idea. The voices for both actresses were dubbed throughout the entire film, which was needlessly distracting and watered down whatever attempt at acting those two tried to achieve. And Jose Ferrer looks bored out of his mind. In fact, the whole film looks bored, sounds bored, moves boringly. THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE, which share the same kind of improbable storyline, is, even as bad as it is, more fun and enjoyable to watch than this dreary thing.

The film's bite would have been more convincing if FEDORA had more punch to it, more life, more style, more irony. As it is, FEDORA is just sad and pathetic. It's a shame because like I said, I love these kind of stories and it annoys the heck out of me that Wilder was more concern in trying to voice a (tired) opinion than actually trying to create a great film first. A proper remake, with grand production values and a bit more class (the film creates a sorta repellent image of Garbo), and hopefully without Michael York, should be done one of these days. The improbable, over-the-top, almost operatic story definitely deserves it.

14 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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