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The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)

Approved | | Drama | 15 November 1968 (West Germany)
A dictatorial film director (Peter Finch) hires an unknown actress (Kim Novak) to play the lead role in a planned movie biography of a late, great Hollywood star.

Director:

Robert Aldrich

Writers:

Robert Thom (teleplay), Edward DeBlasio (teleplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kim Novak ... Lylah Clare / Elsa Brinkmann / Elsa Campbell
Peter Finch ... Lewis Zarken / Louie Flack
Ernest Borgnine ... Barney Sheean
Milton Selzer ... Bart Langner
Rossella Falk ... Rossella
Gabriele Tinti ... Paolo
Valentina Cortese ... Countess Bozo Bedoni
Jean Carroll Jean Carroll ... Becky Langner
Michael Murphy ... Mark Peter Sheean
Coral Browne ... Molly Luther
Lee Meriwether ... Young Girl
James Lanphier James Lanphier ... 1st Legman
Robert Ellenstein ... Mike
Nick Dennis ... Nick
Dave Willock ... Cameraman
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Storyline

A sexy starlet (Kim Novak) resembles Lylah Clare, a flamboyant star of the thirties who died mysteriously and tragically on her wedding night, gets a chance to play her in a biographical film directed by Lylah's real-life husband (Peter Finch) and history repeats itself as he falls for her reincarnation. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

OVERNIGHT A STAR...OVER MANY NIGHTS A WOMAN! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 November 1968 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Große Lüge Lylah Clare See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,490,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on a television production of the same material from 1963. See more »

Goofs

Elsa's (Kim Novak's) voice during her tirade against Molly Luther is clearly not hers. It is the guttural deep voice of an older heavy smoker, something that cannot be imitated. This is consistent with the plot, which eventually reveals she really is possessed...but why doesn't anyone else notice the impossibility? See more »

Quotes

Lylah Clare: [to Barney Sheean] Squat and wait!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mulholland Dr. (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Lylah
Music by Frank De Vol
Lyrics and Vocal by Sibylle Siegfried
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fascinating
23 January 2007 | by beyondtheforestSee all my reviews

It's flawed, yes. It's too long, too slow, and some of the lines and situations are just incomprehensible. On the other hand, its daring in a way most films are not. It dares you to think, imagine, and just relish in the glory if this fictionally great old star. The character of Lylah Clare is based on what seems to be an amalgamation of 1930s icons, not the least of which may include Crawford, Bankhead, Dietrich, Garbo, and Harlow. Then again, she is her own creation. A great subplot concerns the battle of the studio for money-making films and the battle of the director for art. As Ernest Borgnine as the studio head says in one scene, "I don't want to make films. I want to make movies. What do you think we're making here, art?" Kim Novak is well cast and turns in a surprising star turn in a double role, as Lylah Clare and the actress who plays her in a biopic helmed by her late director and husband. The story behind Lylah's death is mysterious and the stuff of legend. Only the director, eager to make a comeback after a 20 year absence from films, seems to know the truth about what happened to Lylah, and he is silent. There are two other superb subplots to the film: one concerns the actress and her possession by the spirit of the late Lylah Clare, and the other subplot concerns the romance between the actress and the director.

The end is shocking. You might not see the eventual conclusion coming. There is terrific symbolism in the dog food advertisement at the end of the film, and the score by DeVol is appropriately lush and atmospheric.

Some of the performances are a bit stilted, as is some of the camera work. The costumes are not always historically correct, but are fetching just the same. The direction is hit-or-miss. The film is way too slow. What holds the film together is the fascinating story and Aldrich's ambition in telling it. He doesn't stop with Lylah's death, but goes on to make a broad and cynical statement about the whole movie industry as a whole. Notice how, when the Lylah's director finally has something deep and heartfelt to say to the reporter, he is cut off. And for what? A dog food commercial. Get it?

Aldrich excelled at dark Hollywood portraits, and this is one of the most intriguing and controversial. No wonder it's so hard to find.


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