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Decay is the keyword for many a Losey movie:"the servant" which the precedent user mentions,but also "king and country", "Boom","secret ceremony" "figures in a landscape",and in his towering achievement "M.Klein".Decay is the main topic of "gypsy anfd the gentleman":the titles tells it all.
A broke gentleman,whose mansion is mortgaged,and who 's slowly sinking into alcoholism,meets a gypsy,Belle,herself under her lover Jess's thumb.He flouts conventions and marries her.It's the beginning of a storylike,melodramatic yarn,in the grand tradition of the popular novels of the nineteenth century.
Let's put it straight.The weakest link is Melina Mercouri.She's ludicrous and laughable .Her grimaces and her outré swagger do not convince at all:when she discovers she married a ruined man and starts destroying all things in sight,she generates nothing but horse-laugh. She's in direct contrast to the rest of the cast,which is thoroughly excellent,particularly Patrick McGoohan's machiavelian Jess and Flora Robson.
Losey's directing is sometimes breathtaking and makes us forget the implausibilities of the screenplay:crazy cavalcades,strange places (the Summer house:the pagoda),and a final which would fit in an horror movie. The supporting characters sometimes seem embryonic.Losey always said he did not love this work,and the reason can be found in the editing:some characters were very interesting:Paul the aristocrat's fiancée and her father who both know that the marriage will not be a love one;the proud fighter who refuses Paul's purse;Flora Robson's "the Legend" who has been done down by the scenarists.
Paul Deverill's decay remains the center of Losey's movie.When the movie begins, he's only half corrupt,he's still got his pride.He knows his world is crepuscular but he despises his sister's fiancé,a "sawbone",one of these parvenus whose star is on the rise. His fall from grace will be infamous :"No I'm damned" he said towards the end.Note that Belle always calls him by his surname "Deverill". Had Belle be played by a talented actress,her relationship with her lover Jess would have been absolutely fascinating.Actually,Belle is only a pawn in Jess's game,he's the real master,Belle and Paul being his puppets.
The magnificent country landscapes predate "the go-between" and the relationship Paul/Jess "the servant".The Summer house full of old stuff like the teddy bear forecasts the attic in "secret ceremony",this attic where everybody would like to invent a past for himself.Paul's lost identity will find his exact equivalent in "M.Klein.Although imperfect ,"gypsy and the gentleman",this British extravaganza,deserves to be seen.
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