Europa Cinema > 15:30


Stanley Donen

Introduction curated by Cinema Ritrovato Young


Saturday 25/06/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Having moved to London some years before, Stanley Donen, the master of the 1950s musical, after the success of Charade (1963), produced a tongue-in-cheek spy thriller, once again following in the footsteps of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. But he had to replace Cary Grant with Gregory Peck who, less well-versed in light comedy, pulls it off in a rather unusual, self-deprecating way. Alongside him was Sophia Loren, at the height of her Hollywood period (it was the same year as Chaplin’s A Countess from Hong Kong). The protagonist is an American professor involved in a plot centred around a valuable Hittite hieroglyphic code that needs to be deciphered. Loren is the girlfriend of a treacherous Middle Eastern businessman who covets the object, but she is not what she seems. Mediterranean beauty is expressed in a celebration of Orientalism (the character’s name is Yasmin), but enhanced by an incredible selection of Christian Dior outfits: in her first appearance she is dressed in black chiffon with ostrich feathers (“I don’t meet many Americans,” says Loren, and Peck, “Actually, I don’t meet many people who are dressed like that either.”), the second time in a golden damask dress with a jewelled hood. She also does an amusing parody of the international diva. This 1966 American movie (filmed away from home) charmingly makes fun of itself and doesn’t take itself too seriously, with its skewed shots, jokes, pop colours and furniture, and Henry Mancini’s music; but it does all this with its rhythm and grace still intact.

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo The Cipher (1961) di Alex Gordon. Scen.: Julian Mitchell, Stanley Price, Peter Stone. F.: Christopher Challis. M.: Frederick Wilson. Scgf.: Reece Pemberton. Mus.: Henry Mancini. Int.: Gregory Peck (David Pollock), Sophia Loren (Yasmin Azir), Alan Badel (Beshraavi), Kieron Moore (Yussef), John Merivale (Sloane), Duncan Lamont (Webster), Carl Duering (Jena), George Coulouris (Ragheeb), Ernest Clark (Beauchamp), Harold Kasket (Lufti). Prod.: Stanley Donen per Stanley Donen Enterprises. DCP. D.: 105’. Col.