Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

Original title:  Qui etes-vous, Polly Maggoo?

France, 1966.  Screenplay by William Klein.  Cinematography by , .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by

William Klein’s satire of show business has a suspicious attitude towards mid-sixties fashion trends and celebrity culture that the future will bear out in almost exact detail.  A French television crew doing a reality-based program on Brooklyn-born model Polly Maggoo () asks about her life, her inspiration and her true self before needing to reconfigure the footage to make her seem so much interesting than she is.  The arrival of a handsome prince from a fictional eastern bloc country (played by ) who has announced that he wants to marry a model has inspired her fantasies about becoming royalty.  Klein’s kaleidoscopic time capsule of pre-counterculture sixties delirium also spins out to a variety of fashion shows, shoots, and a sampling of surrounding social realities, all of it designed to get to the heart of the titular question:  actually, the title is the film’s joke, since Klein knows that in a world obsessed with momentary flashes of attention-grabbing personalities, no one is interested in getting to know any public figure too deeply, especially since we’re usually done with them by the time we even have a chance to learn anything worthwhile.  The film has some visually stunning sections, particularly a funereal fashion shoot straight out of Fellini and appearances by the likes of and Grayson Hall, but unless you’re particularly dazzled by the period you might find the assembly of its sequences too random and, at times, listless.

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