Friday, April 03, 2009


One of the wonderful things about Tigger…, I mean, about DVDs, is that movies that haven't seen the light of day (or the dark of theaters) in years are surfacing as companies search deeper and deeper for more material to satisfy the thirst of audiences for anything on that small silver disc. I'd never heard of this film until someone mentioned it on a classic movie e-mail list I belong to. It's a weird one that's fun for a while, but wears out its welcome halfway through. Handsome sailor Mathieu Carriere arrives on leave in his home town and is approached by two men who tell him it’s his destiny to come with them. He tries to ignore them, sees his sister (Susan Hampshire) on the street, and follows her to a red light district where he gets roughed up in a bar brawl and wakes up the next morning in the family mansion called Malpertuis, surrounded by servants and relatives who are all waiting for the sick family patriarch (Orson Welles, looking the part) to die. Welles tells the assembled group, who all seem a bit on the seedy, enervated side, that in order to receive their money, they must live forever within the confines of the estate. One relative, the lovely and mysterious Euryale (also Susan Hampshire), avoids direct eye contact with Carriere and sits with Welles, helping him to die. Among the assorted characters: a scruffy ill-treated man (Jean-Pierre Cassel) who lives under the stairs, a taxidermist who's been experimenting with creating new life, and three strange sisters (one of whom is, yes, Susan Hampshire) who are always together. There is a secret which makes everything make sense, and it's a good one (too good to reveal here), but it's not executed well, and it's revealed a bit too late in the film to be much fun for the viewer. The cinematography and sets are effective, though Carriere (who, in his white sailor suit, looks like a blond, androgynous Brad Davis from QUERELLE) is not the most charismatic lead actor; Hampshire, however, is quite good in her multiple roles. At best, this is a diverting oddity, too long and tedious to be truly compelling. [DVD]

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