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The Immortal Story (1968)

Histoire immortelle (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | TV Movie 18 September 1968
In Macao, a wealthy merchant named Charles Clay hires two people to recreate a story of a sailor who is paid to impregnate a man's wife.


Orson Welles


Karen Blixen (novel) (as Isak Dinesen), Orson Welles | 1 more credit »
1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Jeanne Moreau ... Virginie Ducrot
Orson Welles ... Mr. Charles Clay
Roger Coggio ... Elishama Levinsky
Norman Eshley ... Paul, the sailor


The Portuguese colony of Macao in the 19th century. Mr. Clay is a very rich merchant and the subject of town gossip. He has spent many years in China and is now quite old. He likes his clerk Levinsky to read the company's accounts to him at night for relaxation. Tonight Mr. Clay recounts a true story he heard years before about a rich man who paid a poor sailor 5 guineas to father a child with his beautiful young wife. Levinsky says that's a popular old sailor's legend and not true. Mr. Clay has no heir for his fortune and no wife either. He resolves to make the story true... Levinsky approaches Virginie, another clerk's mistress, and strikes a bargain for 300 guineas. Now to find the sailor... Written by David Woodfield

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Orson Welles originally planned for this film to be made as part of an anthology of adaptations of stories by Karen Blixen. Originally made for French TV, it was later released in theaters. This movie is available on DVD from The Criterion Collection. See more »


After Levinsky pays Virginie, she removes the shawl from the table but it can be seen still on the table in shots of Levinsky. See more »


Elishama Levinsky: [holding shell to ear] I have heard it before... long ago... but where?
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Alternate Versions

French-language version runs 51 minutes. See more »


Featured in Arena: The Orson Welles Story - Part 1 (1982) See more »


Gnossienne No. 3
(piano pieces)
Written by Erik Satie
Performed by Jean-Joël Barbier with permission of B.A.M.
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User Reviews

Other literary sources?
30 March 2007 | by jhall-4See all my reviews

Several have pointed out that The Immortal Story is based on a novel by Isak Dinesen, as the credits state. As I watched it, and learned that Paul and Virginie are the names of the lovers, I recalled that at least two French works have been written with the title: Paul et Virginie. A play by Jean Cocteau, and a novel by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, who lived 1737-1814. I wonder if Welles (or Dinesen?) might have been influenced by those works, or at least the Saint-Pierre, but I can't tell any real similarity in the plots, perhaps in the poignant tone of the love story. The Saint-Pierre novel is a pastoral about two children who were brought up on an exotic island (Mauritius?) as brother and sister (although they are not). Virginie is sent away to France to become educated and society-worthy, and to separate the children. But she insists on returning to Paul, her true love, and dies in a shipwreck before she gets back to the island. Young love thwarted.

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Release Date:

18 September 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Immortal Story See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (TCM print) | (alternate)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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