The morbid Catholic writer Gerard Reve who is bisexual, alcoholic and has frequent visions of death is invited to give a lecture in the literature club of Vlissingen. While in the railway station in Amsterdam, he feels attracted to a handsome man who embarks on another train. Gerard is introduced to the treasurer of the club and beautician Christine Halsslag, a wealthy widow who owns the Spider beauty shop, and they engage in a one night stand. On the next morning, Gerard sees the picture of Christine's boyfriend Herman and recognizes him as the man he saw in the train station. He urges her to bring Herman to her house to spend a couple of days together, but with the secret intention of seducing the man. Christine travels to Köln to bring her boyfriend and Gerard stays alone in her house. He drinks whiskey and snoops through her safe, finding three film reels with names of men; he decides to watch the footage and discovers that Christine had married each; all of whom died in tragic ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil revised by S. Alan Fann, N. Decatur, GA USA
The movie rights to the novel, on which the film was based, resided with Joop van den Ende. However, he refused to work again with actor Jeroen Krabbé, whom director Paul Verhoeven wanted for the lead role. Fortunately, the movie rights would expire at the end of that year. Verhoeven was at writer Gerard Reve's house on New Year's Eve to buy the movie rights from him just after midnight. See more »
At the beginning of the movie, as Gerard is getting out of bed, the boom mic is visible in a mirror behind him. See more »
Verhoeven's Fourth Man was apparently his answer to those carping Dutch critics who had been so offended by the casual working class realism and frankness he familiarised in Turkish Delight, Business is Business & etc. Gone is the simple story line, the concern with contemporary issues, 'offensive' humour and the prominence of working girls as characters. Instead Verhoeven and his scriptwriter have substituted a hot house of religious imagery, 'literary' associations, obscure motivations and a deliberately overwrought atmosphere, guaranteed to please those who value an 'art house' ideal over the rougher product the director had been making. Perhaps surprisingly, it is a largely successful concoction, and pleased both audiences and the critics. The joke is still a joke, but it is all so well done, and carried off with such dark glee and verve, that Verhoeven's private fun in his task becomes public.
Having dished out his private joke to the conservative arbiters of Dutch film taste, it wasn't long before the frustrated director was lured off to Hollywood. Here he achieved a more perfect - and sincere - synthesis of vision, style, and message in the more familiar films that have confirmed his reputation.
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