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LGM Film Club, Part 205: The Immortal Story

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I watched Orson Welles’ 1968 adaptation of an Isak Dinesen story for French television. The story is about an old dying European capitalist in China who long ago heard this story about an old man like him who picks up a sailor to sleep with his wife. But it turns out this story is told to everyone on boats and probably didn’t happen. The old man is outraged by this and so decides to stage it himself.

Not necessarily that compelling of a storyline, but the bigger problem here is that it’s not a good movie. The one thing that sort of holds this together is that Jeanne Moreau is excellent as the woman. But while I have a soft spot for late Welles, when he was just making whatever he wanted (F for Fake especially), this is just bad. It combines being pretentious and ponderous with being poorly made and Welles just sleepwalking through his role as the capitalist. Since he couldn’t go to China to make the film, he just filmed in Spain and hired guys at the local Chinese restaurant to play the background Chinese guys. This means it looks like Spain, not China. Well, whatever. But you want to know how bad this is? I challenge you, have you seen a worse makeup job on a film made by a major director than this fake nose on Welles?

They couldn’t even make it the same color as his skin? Not good Orson. Not good.

You can watch the whole thing here if you want to. It’s only 58 minutes, but to be fair, it feels like 2 hours.

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