The whole picture seems to have undergone a time-machine move from THE SHANGHAI GESTURE to swinging '69. It's Cukor's most vibrant movie visually, and each gorgeously staged and color-patterned shot finds a new way to layer an Islamic tapestry atop psychedelic poster art.
Cukor, brought in as a replacement, brings a vigor to the material you don't associate with him, and at 70, he still knew how to shape the beats of a scene like a Broadway pro. It is reported that he and the star, Anouk Aimee, loathed one another, and in honesty it's easy to see Cukor's frustration: she gives a dismally coy, incommunicative performance as the black widow whose web forms the story. She seems aberrantly at odds with the coolly dignified, taciturn style of the other performances: Dirk Bogarde, as the Graham Greene-ish diplomat with a lurid secret may never have been more creepily sympathetic than he is here. And John Vernon, an actor best known for playing pompous authoritarians in B movies, has such noble composure as Justine's long-suffering husband that he seems to turn into a folk-art engraving of a noble and besieged human soul.