Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1969. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Screenplay by Dale Wasserman, based on the novel by Hans Koningsberger. Cinematography by Edward Scaife. Produced by Carter DeHaven, John Huston. Music by Georges Delerue. Production Design by Stephen B. Grimes. Costume Design by Leonor Fini. Film Editing by Russell Lloyd.
John Huston casts his daughter Anjelica in her movie debut for this strange romantic drama set in medieval Europe. The ravaged French countryside has the distant troubles of battle made that much worse by a peasant revolt that has seen the masses take their anger out on the country’s nobles. A wandering young man makes a beautiful girl his personal responsibility after finding her alone in a church, despite the fact that she was prepared to go to a nunnery following the murder of her family. Instead of allowing her to be cloistered, he accompanies her to her cousin’s estate but when that is fraught with misadventure as well, they are forced to keep moving in search of safety while, most important, love between them blooms. Great chemistry between the leads and a chance to see Anjelica so young and dewy is a real treat; it’s as obvious that she has talent as it is that she’s uncomfortable doing the equivalent of working in your dad’s store, but what really keeps this from achieving classic status is the weird middle ground between genres that it navigates. The archly poetic nature of much of the romantic dialogue is at odds with the gritty presentation of the period, and the film can never decide if it wants to be seriously historical or something out of a fairy tale. That said, it’s far more enjoyable than it could be even if it is no classic.