Two ideas not smoothly blended
NOBODY could pretend that Hannibal Brooks ("U," London Pavilion)—the only "U" certificate among the new movies—was by any standard the best. But it does, at least partially, live up to its certificate.
"Partially" is the significant word. For this very curious movie seems a compound of two ideas not quite smoothly enough blended.
One idea is quite a happy one. Brooks (Oliver Reed) is understandably pleased to be taken prisoner latish in the war in Italy; positively delighted in Germany to volunteer for duties at the Munich Zoo, and in particular to become, after an air raid, keeper to a charming elephant called Lucy.
The counterpoint idea is the ruthless savagery of war represented by an unpleasant S.S. colonel, and the irregular organisation of resisters and escapees by Packy (Michael J. Pollard), Brooks's G.I. fellowprisoner and escapee.
The two stories impede and entangle each other's progress almost as much as the two escapes: one the savage and ruthless guerrilla fight, the other mild meandering with the gently blundering Lucy through the setting and mood of "The Sound of Music" but with no Julie Andrews, only a Polish girl prisoner (Karin Baal) and one Good, one. Bad Nazi guard.
Taxed with the impossibility of taking an elephant over the Alps to Switzerland. Brooks's attitude is "Why not? Hannibal did." Oliver Reed. good and fashionable actor though he is, is cast a Tittle too sharply against type as the soldier who loves his elephant.
But his half of the story probably predominates enough for its chalet and woodland travelogue charm to provide a little of the "family entertainment" so hard to come by today.
If you have a taste for really well-made, intelligent thrillers, you shouldn't miss Pretty Poison ("X." Rialto and general release). Your appetite needs to be tough as well as discriminating, for the story is indeed pretty poisonous.
A delinquent youth (Anthony Perkins). on probation after
burning down his home, with his aunt in it, is given a job in a New England chemical plant. His mixed-up mind takes refuge in the fantasy-life of a secret agent until he finds the pretty teenager (Tuesday Weld) he has picked as partner who is a far more realistic and gruesome monster than his wildest fantasies.
The study of human behaviour is as horrifying as "Bonnie and Clyde," though not so bloody. What makes it impressive is, first, the perfect care for detail which makes every background — factory, home, street or woodland—rich in potential excitement during the quite legitimate mystification of the beginning.
Then there is the brilliance of Noel Black's direction in balancing the fantasy melodrama and the real-life drama into which it intrudes so devastatingly and maintaining tension with barely a pause for breath. Superb performances by Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld make both protagonists frighteningly convincing. It is difficult to imagine anybody not being horrified by this view of youth. Jean-Louis Trintignant has made and held a deserved following since "Un Homme et Une Femme," but his wife Nadine is a newcomer to us as director of his new picture, Mon Amour, Mon Amour ("X," Cinecenta).
This is a woman's film in the sense that the love story is told almost entirely through the eyes of the woman, though the star name is the man's. Trintignant plays a young architect, Valerie Lagrange, a singer (pop, not opera) and for four years their relationship has been as tenuous as it is vital to both, in its balance of sensuality, sophistication and deliberate ingenuonsness.
Now she is pregnant and tries to find a way of dealing With this new dimension in their emotional world. That is all the film is about. The baby is lost, but the new dimension remains. These are circles where marriage does not seem to be envisaged.
From the hero's point of view, the script is rather thin. But the film's merit (and a rare one) is the believable combination of abstract and actual. of the immediacy of today's pain and pleasure seen inevitably as part of today and also of the tomorrow that hasn't happened yet. Some of this occurred in "Un Homme et Une Femme" in the different dramatic context of encounter between two strangers. The new film does it by establishing a remarkable sense of intimacy and knowledge of the people concerned.
It enjoys, too, perfect playing by all seven members of the cast, including a faultless performance by Annie Fargue as the nearest thing to a confidante.