The Night Heaven Fell (1958) Poster

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B.B., a kaleidoscope of dynamic excitement...
Nazi_Fighter_David3 June 2002
In 1956, Roger Vadim made a sensational debut as a motion picture director with 'And God Created Woman', a daringly erotic film that challenged conventional views of romanticism... Vadim presented the nude body of his young wife, Brigitte Bardot, in all the splendor of CinemaScope with beautiful Technicolor photography...

Along with Francois Truffaut, Louis Malle, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Demy and Agnes Varda, Vadim was one of the founding members of the revolutionary French New Wave, to push the sexual archetype...

His subsequent films revealed him to be an accomplished European filmmaker with an eye for visual beauty and decorative elegance, but in content, his films have often been superficial and lacking in narrative strength... Sexual relations have been a recurrent theme in his films, the plot of which have often revolved around the undisputed beauty of his succession of wives - Brigitte Bardot, Annette Stroyberg, and Jane Fonda...

"The Night Heaven Fell" is the second collaboration between Vadim and Bardot... Vadim seems to have attempted to recapture the freshness and essence of the 'B.B.' he had helped to shape, but the re-creation escaped him, despite the careful choice of Albert Vidalie's novel and the casting of Stephen Boyd as leading man...

Bardot's innocently natural mannerisms had disappeared, and it seemed that she no longer needed Vadim to make use of her talents as an accomplished actress... Claude Autant-Lara succeeded much more with his film, 'Love Is My Profession,' playing Brigitte opposite Jean Gabin and Edwige Feuillere... Bardot came off as more than a sexual image, her persona giving life to the character she portrayed...

Filmed in Franco's Spain, "The Night Heaven Fell" is a sunburned film noir, beautifully photographed in Color and CinemaScope...

Bardot plays Ursula, a beautiful convent girl vacationing in a small village in rural Spain where her patient and passive Aunt Florentine and her rude uncle, the Count Ribera (Pepe Nieto), live... Upon her arrival, she's hunted by the handsome and forceful Lamberto (Stephen Boyd), who's looking to avenge the death of his poor sister...

The sexually repressed Florentine desires intensely Lamberto who kills her husband, seduces her, and escapes with her rebellious, capricious and highly provocative niece Ursula...

The air of harshness is at the heat of all of the main characters: Ursula's challenging sexuality; Count Ribera's lecherous advances; Lamberto's acts of vengeance; and most of all, the unusual beauty and natural charm of Florentine, played by the great Italian actress Alida Valli, from Carol Reed's The Third Man.

There's a scene in the film that takes place during the Count's funeral where we see Alida Valli stopping in the village streets and a veil covers her face... In front of Boyd, she takes off her dark veil, and stares, in silence, at his face... Her new feminist disposition was loading all her unconscious feelings...

In the fifties, Bardot emerged as a new type of sex symbol, flashing her sexual exuberance... Her performances as a child of nature responding to the call of sensuality, were a deliciously strange elixir to all of us growing up in that time...

Clothed in a breakaway towel, décolletage, bathing suits, or nude, this truly luscious coquette was enough to drive us into a kaleidoscope of dynamic excitement...
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jimi9913 September 2006
In Cinemascope and Technicolor, "The Night Heaven Fell" is spectacular in more ways than one. Vadim takes us across and through some incredible landscapes in Spain, using long shots to great effect. Then there is the spectacle of the virulent cult of bullfighting which comes into the film twice, the brutality of which is emphasized more than its cultural mystique. And that's obviously because this is as much Bardot's film as her husband's, and her evolution into an animal rights activist, which she remains today, is on full display here. Her scenes with the many animals in the film are full of genuine warmth and compassion, and even becomes an important plot point when her runaway outlaw lover wants to kill a piglet so they won't starve in the wilderness.

And of course the main spectacle for many (esp. males) is Brigitte Bardot herself, in all her youthful radiant vivacious libidinous glory. I personally had a pre-pubescent crush on her in the late 50's, when this movie came out. Of course I never saw one of her movies back then but photos in magazines, probably Life and Look or my mom's Photoplay. And there was that lobby card on display outside the Avalon theater on 75th street in Houston in '58 advertising "and God...Created Woman," showing the famous shot of Bardot in bed with a sheet just barely covering her not-so-private parts. It was a neighborhood theater that had turned into an "art" (adults only) theater that I walked by regularly, and I did stare at that still photo for a good long time as a 10 year old.

I still haven't seen many of her films, but in this film she proves her acting chops and also gets to expose her physical assets on a level American actresses were certainly not able to do, especially in a dramatic film of this caliber. It's kind of funny how Vadim paced the tease of the film for the horny viewer, exposing her incrementally almost like clockwork, culminating in a breast shot as Stephen Boyd falls on her to once again seal their doomed passion.

And that's what really raises this above any kind of titillating pulp romance, the authenticity not only of the sets and people, from all the amazing extras to the stars, but of the emotions the two lovers display. Bardot, whom I've lusted after for nearly 50 years, could act like Signoret or Moreau, at least in this film.
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A sexy Vadim classic!
robespierre916 August 2014
This is by far my favorite Brigitte Bardot movie! I love the Spanish scenery, I love her costumes, love the pulp-fiction semi-exploitation which Vadim teases us with, and I love Bardot's chemistry with Stephen Boyd (Ben Hur's 'Messala'). They make an absolutely sizzling screen pair together, and they look gorgeous. Boyd was one of her few English speaking co-stars (the first since Dirk Bogarde in 'Doctor at Sea', in fact). Boyd is like a hot-tempered bull in this. Even though he is dubbed, it doesn't detract from his performance. His muscular physique adds to the tension between himself and Bardot, who matches his intensity. Vadim's movies are always fun to watch, but I like the one in particular. It's just a sexy movie. He has a great way of directing Bardot and bringing out her best characteristics. Alida Valli is great as the seduced, then spurned woman. Can't ask for better entertainment in my opinion.
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Fascinating Melodrama with Beautiful Bardot!
shepardjessica-126 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Interesting strange tale with great performance by BB and she was never more gorgeous. Stephen Boyd is solid, tough, and has a good feel for this type of loner. Incredible Spanish locales with great cinematography with nice music score. I'm not quite sure of the intent of this flick, but you can't wait to see what happens next. A perfect role for Ms. Bardot at the height of her radiant beauty and power.

An 8 out of 10. Best performance = BB. I didn't expect much before viewing this and was astonished by this strangely paced over the top tale of "love on the run" and betrayal. I don't believe Vadim was a great director by many means, but this is definitely one of his best efforts. Thanks to Ms. Bardot!
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Silly Melodramatic Romance
claudio_carvalho4 April 2012
The spoiled Ursula de Fonte (Brigitte Bardot) leaves the convent where she was educated to live with her Aunt Florentine (Alida Valli) and her tutor and uncle, Count Miguel de Ribera (Pepe Nieto), in a farm nearby a village in Spain. While driving through the village, Ursula sees the local dweller Lamberto (Stephen Boyd) accusing her uncle of being responsible for the suicide of his sister. Lamberto goes to the farm to fight against Miguel but he is beaten up.

Ursula falls in love with Lamberto but sooner she finds that he is Florentine's lover. When Miguel finds Lamberto in his real state, he shoots the trespasser and Lamberto stabs and kills Miguel. Ursula helps Lamberto to flee and they are chased by the police. Ursula becomes his lover and their love ends in tragedy.

"Les Bijoutiers du Clair de Lune" is a silly melodramatic romance by Roger Vadim. I saw this film many years ago on cable television and I have just seen it again on DVD.

The plot is absolutely ridiculous, with a terrible story and characters. Brigitte Bardot never convinces as a virgin girl that was raised in a convent and her character is annoyingly hysterical. Stephen Boyd also does not convince as a Spaniard and his wolf character is very unpleasant. The gorgeous Alida Valli has good performance in the role of a repressed woman that falls in an unrequited love with Lamberto, but the poor script does not help her.

In addition to Alida Valli, the locations and the beauty and erotic situations of BB are the best that "Les Bijoutiers du Clair de Lune" can offer, but it is very few to enjoy this film. My vote is four.

Title (Brazil): "Ao Cair da Noite" ("Near Nightfall")
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beautiful scenery
wrvisser-leusden-nl1 January 2004
Although this movie has much to do with the Spanish sense of pride and honor, its real issue is a fierce competition between the beauty of Brigitte Bardot and that of the landscape of Southern Spain. As Bardot's performance is pretty uninspired here, this time the scenery wins.

'Les bijoutiers du clair de lune' makes good watching for its enjoyable shots. As for Bardot, she certainly did better in other movies.
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Clearly the film has its problems...
MartinHafer26 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
At the outset, you assume the producers of this film were insane. After all, they cast Brigitte Bardot and Stephen Boyd in a film set in Spain. So why have the VERY French Bardot?! Why dub Boyd and have an actor that just doesn't look Spanish?! This is clearly a case where the producers had actors and they were going to force them into a script no matter how ridiculous it was.

As for the plot, it isn't much better. Bardot plays a nymphet who has been raised in a convent (despite being VERY sexy and the most un-convent like woman in film history) and comes to live with her guardians--a rich uncle and aunt. In this small town, the uncle is all-powerful--and apparently had abused this position by forcing himself on women. First, his advances resulted in the death of Boyd's sister, then he puts the moves on his niece. As for the niece (Bardot), she is a rather vacuous lady who meets Boyd and INSTANTLY falls in love with him--a bad cliché to say the least. Later, when Boyd kills the uncle, she abandons everything and runs off with him. Now, she is wanted by the police as well--all because of 'love at first sight'--good grief. And, at the 80 minute mark comes a scene that, frankly, made my brain hurt, as Bardot goes bananas and then the two make out like sex-crazed weasels. Wow. You just have to see it.

If you completely ignore the plot and casting of actors, the film IS lovely to see. The color cinematography is very nice as is the setting. So, if you can ignore the problems, at least the film looks nice and is a diversion--and nothing more. This is NOT among Bardot's best films--nor is it even among the best looking (that would be "Contempt"). But, if you are a fan of her work or just have to see the dimpled and jug-eared Boyd play a Spaniard, then this film is for you!

For a movie with such a nice budget, scenery and stars, it should have been a lot better.
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Vadim & Bardot - Ooh La La!
mikhail08011 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
French "new wave" director Roger Vadim expertly showcased his then-wife, the youthful Brigitte Bardot in The Night Heaven Fell, and he did a fantastic job. I went into this movie not knowing what to expect, and was delighted to discover that Vadim had made an epic, hard-hitting and moving melodrama somewhat along the lines of what Douglas Sirk might have made if unbound from the restrictions of the U.S. production codes.

I watched the DVD release, and was somewhat surprised to find it filmed in glorious Eastmancolor and wide-screen. The majestic scenery and authentic locales presented within remain spectacular and awe-inspiring even today. The cinematography is lush and beautiful, and the action moves the film along at a brisk pace which never becomes tedious. Fabulous art direction adds to the enjoyment, and the film is like a trip to the exotic, mysterious, and thrilling Spain in the 1950's.

Briefly, the plot has young Brigitte Bardot just out of the convent, going to stay with her Aunt and Uncle. Stephen Boyd is the town "stud," as the movie calls him, who has a vendetta against the Uncle for violating his sister, driving her to suicide. Handsome Boyd plays both Bardot and her Aunt (Alida Valli) off one-another, until the melodramatic situation escalates into violence.

The actors all give solid performances, especially old pro Alida Valli, as the respectable Aunt who conceals her passions beneath a steely exterior. Valli brings an aura of experience and tragedy to a role that breaks many of the conventions usually associated with the roles given to more mature actresses. She looks fantastic, and her subtle transformation caused by her young niece is remarkable.

Bardot also is in fine form, looking stunningly beautiful of course, but also displaying a lot of both charm and unexpected strength. She has a number of scenes with two animals, a mule and a piglet, which are poignant and real.And it's fascinating to watch her interplay with these creatures, considering Bardot's famous and long-standing advocacy for animal rights. Plus, she must have been horrified -- if she ever actually watched the film -- to see a dead bull dragged through the Spanish streets in a scene in which she does not appear. Nevertheless, Bardot's performance here gives me a new respect for her talents, which were so much more than superficial. Another memorable scene has Bardot beating off the unwanted attentions of a lecherous man attempting to force himself on her. The fact that this guy had no idea of who he was tangling with is obvious in Bardot's reaction and its aftermath.

And American Stephen Boyd is surprisingly convincing as a Spaniard, and the dubbed voice used suits him perfectly and the lip sync matches just fine. He's trim, fit and great in the action sequences, including a scene at the start when he catches a ride on the sedan taking Bardot to her new residence. It's edge-of-your-seat stuff, and a great way to start the film! Though tame by today's standards, American audiences back in the 1950s were certainly shocked by the film's matter-of-fact approach to sexuality. While the film looks like an expert Hollywood production, the adult themes and brief nudity clearly illustrate how much more liberal European film makers were allowed to be.

The Night Heaven Fell clearly was made for adults, and Vadim and his crew succeeded in making one of the most memorable, entertaining and provocative films to come out of Europe at that time. And for today's fans of directors like John Ford or the aforementioned Douglas Sirk -- there's plenty here to enjoy.
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Like a summer rain
Vincentiu6 September 2009
A love story in Spain. Delicate, silky and dramatic. A young girl in a strange world, a man out of law, a aunt who hopes in the transformation of past. Adventure and a dead body - innocent victim of a fight in which she has not place. A different Bardot and a brilliant Alida Vali. At the end,only the subtle wall , with romantic sketches. It is not a good or bad film. It is ordinary description of pieces of dream, shadows of reality, small things and childish desires. Nothing complicate and this is cause of the emotion at the movie's end. A feeling as a summer rain, warm and nostalgic, spiderweb in wind, the taste of evening and the silhouette of a Madame Bovary closed in everybody.
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