7.1/10
2,157
26 user 29 critic

The Immortal Story (1968)

Histoire immortelle (original title)
In the Portuguese town of Macao, a wealthy trader named Charles Clay hires two people to recreate a story of a sailor who is paid to impregnate a man's wife.

Director:

Orson Welles

Writers:

Karen Blixen (novel) (as Isak Dinesen), Orson Welles | 1 more credit »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The career of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff as a roistering companion to young Prince Hal, circa 1400 to 1413.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford
Mr. Arkadin (1955)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An American adventurer investigates the past of the mysterious tycoon Gregory Arkadin, placing himself in grave danger.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Peter van Eyck, Michael Redgrave
Othello (1951)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The Moorish general Othello is manipulated into thinking that his new wife Desdemona has been carrying on an affair with his lieutenant Michael Cassio when in reality it is all part of the scheme of a bitter ensign named Iago.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Micheál MacLiammóir, Robert Coote
Macbeth (1948)
Certificate: Passed Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O'Herlihy
Don Quixote (1992)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The story of a Spanish gentlemen gone mad and his dim-witted squire sancho panza, who set forth on a journey to right wrongs and accomplish good deeds in the name of chivalry.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Francisco Reiguera, Akim Tamiroff, Pepe Mediavilla
F for Fake (1973)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A documentary about fraud and fakery.

Directors: Orson Welles, Gary Graver, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, François Reichenbach
It's All True (1993)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A documentary about Orson Welles's unfinished three-part film about South America.

Directors: Bill Krohn, Myron Meisel, and 3 more credits »
Stars: Manuel 'Jacare' Olimpio Meira, Jeronimo André De Souza, Raimundo 'Tata' Correia Lima
Don Quixote (1972)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Don Quixote is an unfinished film project produced, written and directed by Orson Welles. Principal photography took place between 1957 and 1969. Test footage was filmed as early as 1955, ... See full summary »

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Oja Kodar, Patty McCormack, Pepe Mediavilla
The Trial (1962)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An unassuming office worker is arrested and stands trial, but he is never made aware of his charges.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Arnoldo Foà, Jess Hahn
Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An American ballistics expert in Turkey finds himself targeted by Nazi agents. Safe passage home by ship is arranged for him, but he soon discovers that his pursuers are also on board.

Directors: Norman Foster, Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dolores del Rio
The Deep (1970)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A couple's honeymoon trip aboard a yacht leads to a claustrophobic drama when another vessel runs into their voyage, apparently drifting.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Michael Bryant, Oja Kodar, Laurence Harvey
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The spoiled young heir to the decaying Amberson fortune comes between his widowed mother and the man she has always loved.

Directors: Orson Welles, Fred Fleck, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Tim Holt, Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello
Edit

Cast

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

Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

18 September 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Guinea Piece See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print) | (alternate)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The interior scenes of " The Immortal Story " were filmed at the home of Orson Welles outside Madrid, Spain. See more »

Goofs

Some of the Chinese signs are upside down or backwards. See more »

Quotes

Elishama Levinsky: Behold, your God shall come with a recompense. Then the eyes of the blind shall be open and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then, shall the lame man leap like a deer and in the wilderness, shall the waters break out.
Mr. Charles Clay: What was all that? Has it happened?
Elishama Levinsky: No.
Mr. Charles Clay: Is is happening now?
Elishama Levinsky: No.
Mr. Charles Clay: Who put that thing together?
Elishama Levinsky: The prophet Isaiah.
Mr. Charles Clay: The prophet. Bah. I don't like prophecies. People should only record things that already happened.
See more »


Soundtracks

Gymnopedie No. 1
(piano pieces)
Written by Erik Satie
Performed by Aldo Ciccolini with permission of Pathé Marconi
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Fiction into Fact
19 March 2006 | by bhbutlerSee all my reviews

If you looking for action here or, if aware of the plot outline, expect a bit of soft porn, you will be disappointed. "The Immortal Story" is more of a visual and acoustic painting than a narrative. Especially since, according to another commentator, this was actor-director Welles' first venture into colour, he has used the unaccustomed medium masterfully both in his interiors and exteriors, and with the addition of the strident and insistent cicadas and refreshing dawn chorus has rendered the subtropical oriental night and its golden dawn beautifully realistic.

The Orson Welles' character, Charles Clay, a powerful expatriate merchant established in Macao, approaching seventy and dying from gout, is like a motionless fat spider in the centre of his web who controls everything and everybody within his range. As a control -freak he even wishes to make factual a much told sailors' yarn about a couple manipulated through bribes and some coercion to go to bed together. He is obsessed with this story but cannot stand fiction, (he rails at his personal assistant, the Jew Lewinsky, against the biblical prophecies he reads to his master). Facts he already controls, fiction must also come under his sway.

The enforced but, from the point of view of both the bully Clay and his victims, successful liaison between Jeanne Moreau and the young Danish sailor (satisfactorily played by an obscure British actor), the latter losing his virginity in this encounter, is tasteful, beautiful and not in the least prurient. That is except for the D.O.M. (écouteur?)listening at the keyhole, whose nocturnal presence we, however, spontaneously forget about. The couple appear to fall in love under these strange circumstances, though future relations seem to be highly doubtful. Just a couple of points bother me here: when the sailor tells Moreau (whose character's name is significantly but inappropriately Virginie) that he is 17 and is informed by her that she also is 17, it is quite evident that both, and especially Mlle. Moreau, are much older Maybe we are to assume that she lied to the ingenuous young man in order not to spoil the idyllic illusion of love-at-first-sight. The other point worrying me is why the attentive Chinese servants, besides feeding him, neglect to give the young man a good bath as well, especially as he had refrained from entering Clay's open carriage explaining that he was covered in tar and would soil the upholstery. And so he enters the nuptial chamber in his original torn and filthy clothes. Who knows, perhaps a whiff of tar has aphrodisiac properties...

Lewinsky the down-trodden but still spunky assistant/companion to Clay is well played by Roger Coggio. A Jew - Moreau calls him "the wandering Jew" - he has lost his parents in an Eastern European pogrom, and is inured to the blows of fate, and politely imperturbable when upbraided by his imperious master or slapped in the face by an outraged Moreau.

Fernando Rey, for decades Spain's foremost actor, equally able to perform in French and English as well as his native tongue, is included in the cast in a cameo part merely to spread the gossip about Clay's/Welles' ruthless machinations. I suppose the French TV company who commissioned this film was able to afford his services too because the cast was so small: apart from those mentioned above, there are only a few Caucasian listeners in Rey's audience, and half-a-dozen silent Chinese menials who would have cost little to hire.

The location on which the film was shot I was unable to ascertain, but it could have been anywhere in the world where there are large elegant 19th Century European houses, the colonial Portuguese element being supplied by one company sign with the word for export in Portuguese and the Chinese by the garish signs and notices with which the street is cluttered. Perhaps it is the old quarter of Marseilles.

I saw this film for the first time yesterday on the local Spanish channel which runs a series of classics in the original language, so that I saw it in French. This meant that Welles' unmistakable resonant and commanding basso profundo, so appropriate to this rôle was dubbed by a relatively mild-mannered francophone with a much higher register. With his over-brimming culture and long European residence, it seems very likely that Welles could have managed the French dialogue himself, just as Jeanne Moreau can perform equally well in English. Maybe he didn't because he was a perfectionist, even though the character portrayed is not a native French speaker

There are just two further points I should like to make that nobody else has touched on thus far:

First, the story for the script is from the pen of Danish raconteuse Karen Blixen, magnificently portrayed by Meryl Streep in "Out of Africa", who, Sheherezade-like, beguiled her lover and his friend with her fluent and fascinating tales.

Secondly, at the end of the film, the departing Dane about to take ship presents the old man with a mother-of-pearl-like conch he had acquired during his year of solitude on a desert island, and said by him to be virtually unique. As the young man moves away with a backward glance through a wood whose floor is auspiciously tinged with brightness by the rising sun, the shining conch falls to the floor of the verandah from the dead fingers of the merchant. No equivalent of "Rosebud" is uttered, but the incident is obviously a reprise of the ending of "Citizen Kane", Welles' early black-and-white triumph.


16 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 26 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed