HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Marriage Story
Santa Claus is a Bastard
Star, The
Tom & Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale
Shadow
Christmas Carol, A
Legend of the Demon Cat
Adventures of Sinbad, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
   
 
  Millionairess, The Boom-Tiddy-BoomBuy this film here.
Year: 1960
Director: Anthony Asquith
Stars: Sophia Loren, Peter Sellers, Alastair Sim, Vittorio De Sica, Dennis Price, Gary Raymond, Alfie Bass, Miriam Karlin, Noel Purcell, Virginia Vernon, Willoughby Goddard, Basil Hoskins, Gordon Sterne, Graham Stark, Diana Coupland, Tempe Adam, Pauline Jameson
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Upon the death of her millionaire father, Epifania Parerga (a breathtaking Sophia Loren) inherits a fabulous fortune alongside his advice never to marry a man who doesn’t know how to increase the sum of one-hundred and fifty pounds sterling a hundred fold in three months. Ignoring these words, Epifania hastily weds a handsome tennis player who can’t cope with her controlling ways and begins an adulterous affair, thus annulling the marriage within mere days. Being something of a drama queen, Epifania makes a showy suicide bid and jumps into the Thames river where she meets kindly Indian Doctor Kabir (Peter Sellers). Instantly smitten, Epifania resolves to win Kabir’s heart by any means necessary. But Kabir is a wholly altruistic soul who disdains money and has resolved to live by his late mother’s words: never marry a woman who can’t survive for three months on thirty-five shillings.

There are three things most commonly recalled about The Millionairess: its iconic va-va-voom image of Sophia Loren wearing skin-tight black underwear and a floppy pink hat, Peter Sellers’ in brown makeup pioneering his Indian accent, and the duo sharing vocals on the spin-off novelty record “Goodness, Gracious Me” which spawned the catchphrase that became the bane of Anglo-Asian kids across Britain and inspired the popular sketch comedy show. Of course there is a fourth memorable aspect in that the two stars may or may not have had an affair in real life. Certainly Sellers was infatuated with Loren but while Spike Milligan was of the opinion the romance was real, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2003) contends he made the whole thing up.

Ah, but what of the movie? Based on a play by George Bernard Shaw, adapted by Italian writer Riccardo Aragno and revised for the screen by British scripter Wolf Mankowitz, The Millionairess is a sex comedy not in the sense that there is anything racier onscreen than a few admittedly scintillating glimpses of Loren’s bare back, but in that it deals with need and desire. Cleverly woven amidst the standard rom-com battle of the sexes is the potent question of whether men of learning can truly oppose the will of those in power, and the observation that indifference to money is as foolish as coveting it above all else.

For a comedy it is somewhat slow-moving, which combined with its philosophical inclinations renders things more wryly amusing than laugh-out-loud funny. But while its teetering attitude towards capitalism does vex (e.g. the almost flippantly chilling scene where a lawyer buys patents for potential cures for cancer and the common cold), the film scores as a romantic fable on the strength of its leads and a charming portrait of London just as the austere Fifties were about to give way to the Swinging Sixties.

A big hit in its day, while English critics were effusive in their praise, the opulent production design led their more left-leaning Italian counterparts to dismiss this as a fashion show. Loren is really quite something to behold in her endless array of flamboyant outfits, while the camera glides along her curvaceous physique as if admiring some fantastic feat of engineering. The Sixties were very good to Loren, one of the few foreign actress who juggled successful careers in Europe and Hollywood. Though she won an Oscar for the unremittingly grim Two Women (1960), a sensually charged turn here showcases her underrated flair for comedy.

Refreshingly, Epifania has brains and guile to go along with her looks and proves more than a match for the scheming lawyers and psychiatrists out to snag her fortune. She also has a winning way with a judo flip. Loren handles the waspish one-liners and physical comedy with great skill ably matching the supporting cast of quality character actors including Alastair Sim as a shifty lawyer, Dennis Price as a caddish (what else?) psychiatrist and her mentor Vittorio De Sica as the pasta manufacturer whose business Epifania turns into a mechanized success but loses all the heart. As well as mounting a satirical attack on mechanized industry, the film assaults the dehumanized aspects of modern health care, although veteran director Anthony Asquith should have pushed this aspect a little further.

For some the mere sight of Peter Sellers in brown makeup has proven an irritant, but speaking as an Asian his portrayal of Dr. Kabir is not in the least bit offensive. The jokes stem from Kabir being a funny man, not from his race. Moreover, Kabir is drawn as a very decent, deeply moral human being who shows Epifania the poverty and suffering to which she had been oblivious. Sellers is at his most restrained and nuanced and not once does he utter the words “goodness, gracious me.”

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3314 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: