HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
True Don Quixote, The
Babymother
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
Honeymoon
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
   
 
Newest Articles
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
   
 
  Fedora They Had Faces Then
Year: 1978
Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: William Holden, Marthe Keller, Hildegard Knef, José Ferrer, Frances Sternhagen, Mario Adorf, Stephen Collins, Henry Fonda, Michael York, Hans Jaray, Gottfried John, Arlene Frances, Jacques Maury, Christine Mueller, Ellen Schwiers, Panos Papadopulos
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Shockwaves have been sent around the world after the recent suicide of classic European movie star Fedora (Marthe Keller), who threw herself under a train. Tributes have poured in, and the seemingly ageless actress is lying in an open casket in a French cathedral where her fans can offer their final respects, but one mourner has an unusual reason to be there. Barry Detweiler (William Holden) is a film producer who since going independent has struggled to find the right property to adapt for the big screen, but he had the brainwave of coaxing Fedora out of retirement to take the lead in this script he had developed. Obviously that won't happen now, but his experiences with trying to persuade her have shocked him...

The penultimate film directed by Billy Wilder and his last with frequent collaborator I.A.L. Diamond was a barbed, regretful tribute to the old Hollywood that had been so good to him previously in his career but was now finding there was little place for him. It had been based on a novella by another Hollywood survivor, Tom Tryon, an ex-star who had taken up writing books as an additional method of making his living, which had become what he was best known for. Though there was sympathy here for the way the system screwed up its ageing talent and threw them away when there was no more profit to be made from them, the manner in which the film made this point was unsettling, even sickly.

It hinged around a twist that you may be able to see coming after a fashion, but was resolved about the halfway mark, leaving the second hour as an exercise in filling in the blanks, which was less an elegy for the Greta Garbos and Marlene Dietrichs of the world, and more going over the same ground in a preoccupied manner, and none too healthy at that. Fair enough, Wilder had worked with some of the biggest names, male and female, in the business, and perhaps he wanted to relate to the audience the dilemma they had when the years caught up with them and/or they were no longer fashionable, reasoning that after Sunset Boulevard turned such a personality into a monster that a more understanding approach was necessary.

Yet that didn't quite pan out, as Fedora turns out to be a bit of a monster herself, exploiting the one person who should have been dearest to her in order to prolong her mystique, and no, I’m not referring to her cosmetic surgeon played by José Ferrer, a doctor who obviously has more than a few issues himself judging by the way he knocks back whole bottles of cognac in one sitting. If Wilder's previous classic had seemed the final word on the matter back in the nineteen-fifties, his motives for retreading the concept a quarter of a century later were none too clear, especially when the most they served up for the tragedy the plot delineated was a creepy sense of people having gone too far and continuing to do so for increasingly selfish gains, even to the point of driving an innocent individual to madness and self-destruction.

When Barry arrived in Corfu to attempt his meeting with Fedora, something we see in one of myriad flashbacks peppering the film, he spied on the villa she had retreated to with her entourage, which included Ferrer, Countess Hildegard Knef in a wheelchair, and maid after a fashion Frances Sternhagen, shocked to see Fedora raging in a tantrum. This is the first indication that all is not sane her mind, and it won't be the last: she wasn't murdered by falling under that train, but she might as well have been. Barry is more determined than ever to rescue her from this exile, but when he does speak with her she is patently deeply disturbed, meaning it would be impossible to work with her, a fact that when she realises it herself leads to her desperate actions. The latter sections detailed what had really happened, such as Fedora's unrequited love for co-star Michael York (gamely playing himself), but more often than not skirting horror territory in uneasy scenes of the titular actress's mental torture. As a whole, it just about got away with this awkward structure thanks to the feeling it was investing in its idea of a classic star, but it was disquieting when it thought it was classy. Music by Miklos Rozsa.

[Eureka's Blu-ray has a restored print and deleted scenes and restoration comparisons as extras, plus a detailed booklet on the film's production and the reaction it received. There are also subtitles on the disc.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1795 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: