Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 1959. Alby Pictures. Screenplay by George Tabouri. Cinematography by Jack Hildyard. Produced by Anatole Litvak. Music by Georges Auric. Production Design by Isabella Schlichting, Werner Schlichting. Costume Design by Rene Hubert. Film Editing by Dorothy Spencer.
A varied group of passengers are trying to catch a flight out of Budapest during the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, informed that all planes are grounded and they are not able to leave as planned. Instead they are herded onto a bus and driven to the Austrian border, with the hope of making it to Vienna and taking planes from there except that a Russian commander (Yul Brynner) holds them and their passports indefinitely at a crummy hotel. Among the travelers is a beautiful English aristocrat (Deborah Kerr) journeying with her lover (Jason Robards, in an unimpressive film debut), hoping to conceal both his shotgun wound and the fact that he is actually one of the Hungarian freedom fighters who the Russians are trying to put down (with a very American accent). As days pass and frustration mounts, it soon becomes obvious that the delay in being allowed passage across the border has to do with the fact that Brynner has eyes for Kerr and doesn’t want to let her go so soon. Anatole Litvak’s drama reuinites the stars of The King And I for exactly the opposite effect of what they had previously accomplished, the firecracker chemistry that made that musical so deeply moving now replaced with limp dialogue and a complete lack of tension between the actors. The plot itself is also something of a wet noodle, all stasis and little conflict, a bland situation that never really reveals much in the way of fascinating drama and then moves to a conclusion that simply happens without much explanation. Look for Anouk Aimee in an early role as one of the trigger-happy rebels.