Monthly Archives: February 1976

Lucky Lady

From Monthly Film Bulletin, February 1976 (Vol. 43, No. 505). — J.R.

With an outsized budget estimated variously at $12,600,000 (Variety) and £10,000,000 (Daily Mirror), three box-office favourites and a script deliberately written, according to co-author Gloria Katz, as “the most commercial thing we could think up”, Lucky Lady is both conspicuously overproduced and undernourished.

The presence of Stanley Donen seems to count for little in a project that might more logically have been entrusted to a computer. All it has to express, quite simply, are its deliberations: to combine as many saleable features as can be packed on a screen within the space of two hours. A little of everything is thus tossed into the mixture; and a great deal of nothing emerges out of the isolation and autonomy of the assorted elements. For Cabaret-like nostalgia, Geoffrey Unsworth creates a hazy milk-of-magnesia look with a dull sheen that obscures the details of the expensive sets and sea battles, both of which seem to derive from other models.

As the leading lady, Liza Minnelli is dressed in a fright wig worthy of a nightmare dreamt by Robert Aldrich, given two unmemorable songs to sing, and encouraged or allowed to deliver each comic line (sample: “It’s so quiet you can hear a fish fart”) as if she were explaining it to a child of four, crushing gags like so many acorns in her wake.… Read more »

THE LATE MATHIAS PASCAL (1976 review)

From Monthly Film Bulletin, February 1976 (Vol. 43, No. 505). A tinted restoration of this film was presented at Bologna’s Il Cinema Ritrovato with a beautiful, large-orchestra score composed and conducted by Timothy Brock a few years back, and I must say that this very impressive presentation substantially transformed my original skepticism, fully demonstrating how much difference a serious archival restoration can make. And now Flicker Alley has just brought out this version on a lovely Blu-Ray, which I can heartily recommend. – J.R.

Feu Mathias Pascal
(The Late Mathias Pascal)

France, 1925
Director: Marcel L’Herbier

Miragno, Italy. Acting on behalf of herself, her son Mathias and her sister-in-law Scolastique, Maria Pascal authorises agent Batta Maldagna to sell her property; worried about her debts, he sells it at one-sixth its value. Mathias’ shy friend Pomino, secretly in Iove with Romilde Pescatore, asks Mathias to propose to her on his behalf at a village fête. Discovering that she is-in love with himself, Mathias marries her instead, but soon finds his life made miserable by his shrewish mother-in-law, who holds sway over Romilde. He goes to work at the chaotic municipal library, where his time is largely spent contriving to catch rats.… Read more »