Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962)

Cleo from 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7)
Directed by Agnes Varda
Written by Agnes Varda
Cine Tamaris/Rome Paris Films
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. Joseph Campbell

The second time around seemed much funnier than the first but just as satisfying.

Cleo (Corrine Marchand) is a beautiful up-and-coming pop singer.  On this particular day, she is waiting to find out the results of medical tests that may show she has cancer.  The story plays out in almost real time over the last two hours before she is to get hold of her doctor.  Starting with a fortune teller, all signs point toward illness and death.  Cleo spends part of her remaining time making frivolous purchases, complaining, and otherwise indulging her ego and other vices.

Finally, she is so worried and fed up that she yanks off her hair piece, changes clothes, and heads off to see a girl friend.  The friend drops Cleo off in a park where she meets up with a young soldier who, though about to go off to war himself, is content to hear about the troubles of his new acquaintance.

I just love the sly way that Varda plays with expectations in this film!  I also liked the expose of the utter silliness that lies behind much feminine glamor and beauty.  I kept yelling at Cleo to do something about her hair.  When she did, my heart soared.  Another plus is the Michel LeGrand score.  I highly recommend this movie which puts the “new” in New Wave.


The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Written by Robert Ardrey and John Gay from a novel by Vicente Blasco Ibañez
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Moctezuma Films/Olallo Rubio
First viewing/YouTube rental

“Poor Humanity, crazed with fear, was fleeing in all directions on hearing the thundering pace of the Plague, War, Hunger and Death.” ― Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

This movie is just too darned long … and miscast.

I’m not familiar with the source novel or the 1921 original.  The film updates the story from WWI to WWII and presumably changes the plot in other ways as well.

The story begins in 1938.  Anyway, Grandpa Julio Madariaga (Lee J. Cobb) is a life-loving Argentine and the patriarch of a large family.  One of his daughters married Frenchman Marcelo Desnoyers (Charles Boyer) and bore playboy Julio (Glenn Ford) and idealist Chi Chi (Yvette Mimeaux).  The other daughter married German Karl von Hartrott (Paul Lukas) who bore Heinrich (Karl Böhm), an early Nazi supporter.  The Desnoyers end up moving back to Paris while the Hartrotts relocate to Germany.  It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going.

Upon arrival in Pairs, Julio takes up a paintbrush but actually spends most of his time in the high life.  That is until he begins a tempestuous love affair with Marguerite Lanier (Ingrid Thulin), who is married to idealistic newspaper publisher Etienne Laurier (Paul Heinreid).  After France is invaded, Etienne is conveniently taken out of the picture by his activities for the French Resistance.  He is eventually imprisoned and released home.  Marguerite calls it quits and Julio is moved to join the Resistance himself.  And so on …

This movie is almost three hours long.  It could have been cut to two hours without sacrificing much but likely still would have been dull.  It was a major flop at the box office.

For me, one of the main problems was Glenn Ford.  The hero of the silent version was Rudolph Valentino.  By this point in his career, Ford was much too stodgy to play a dashing and romantic leading man.  I read that the director was keen on Alain Delon who would have been perfect in the part but was vetoed by the producers.