Justine (Georgr Cukor, 1969)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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John Cope
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#1 Post by John Cope » Mon Jun 26, 2006 3:18 am

I discovered this picture recently after developing an interest in Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, of which this is apparently an adaptation. Though originally a Joseph Strick film, he was stricken (sorry) from the production after the majority of it had been shot and the reigns were handed to Cukor to finish what was left while having to deal with an already established tone. This is not exactly encouraging and I am dubious that a two hour version of Durrell's four volume set would make much sense anyway; but, then again, the novels are really the same story told multiple times from different points of view, so that could be incorporated and work well enough. I suspect much, maybe too much, has been removed, however, and probably all the wrong things. It seems to be a hard movie to track down and the reviews I have managed to find have been pretty lackluster. Solid starpower, though, including Anouk Aimee, Dirk Bogarde, Robert Forster, Anna Karina, George Baker and Michael York. I'm sure someone here has seen this (and probably already discussed it somewhere). If so, please share your comments and let me know if it's worth the hunt. And if you've read the source novels, all the better!

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david hare
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#2 Post by david hare » Tue Jul 04, 2006 7:48 pm

I'm relying on a crap old P&S VHS to revive memories but it's definitely a solid Cukor - indeed among the cast I think Karina and Bogarde shine. Faced - yet again - with another censorship "problem" over the opening child brothel scene, Cukor managed to cheat somewhat with the veiled faces, etc but anyone who's read the Durrell will get the picture. I liked it very much, in fact I like all the late Cukors including Rich and Famous, Travels with my Aunt (despite the very 70s Tony Hatch score) which has a wonderful screenplay by the late,great Jay Presson Allen, and Love Among the Ruins.

Given Justine was a Fox title one hopes they'll get around to a DVD in due course.

David Ehrenstein
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#3 Post by David Ehrenstein » Wed Jul 05, 2006 1:23 pm

Actually the only Strick in the final film is the location footage. When Pandro S. Berman saw that Strick didn't know what he was doing he recalled the whole project to Hollywood and hired the man who made the ill-fated but great Sylvia Scarlett for him. The result is a mixed bag, but very striking -- and pure Cukor. The reviews were quite good, Vincent Canby of the NYT being exceptionally well-tuned to what Cukor was up to. Cukor and Bogarde were in perfect sync, and he found Ann Karina a total delight. But Cukor and Anouk Aimee shot daggers at one another the whole time. This is one of the very rare instances where Cukor and a leading lady couldn't see eye-to-eye. In fact I think this stands alone as one of the few times Cukor dealt with an actress he came to hate. Still for all of this it's a lovely movie of the kind "they don't make anymore."

Lovely Jerry Goldsmith score too.

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