ROMANOFF AND JULIET: Producer-director Peter Ustinov wrote this screenplay from his own stage hit and also appears in it as the twinkling, benignly sardonic chief of state of a country named Concordia which is so tiny that it has no room for jet - plane runways. A deadlock at the United Nations suddenly makes Concordia a vital pawn in the Cold War, fawningly besieged with “aid” and flattery from both East and West. Then a pseudo - Shakespearean romance flares up between the American ambassador’s daughter (Sandra Dee) and a handsome Russian officer (John Gavin). There are several moments of quiet drollery but the satire is disappointingly thin and Ustinov’s directorial pace is sluggish. His own acting performance, however, is as skillful as usual.
FIVE GOLDEN HOURS: The
amusing Ernie Kovacs and the gorgeous Cyd Charisse, both from Hollywood, fail to redeem this heavyhanded British comedy. It’s about an Italian rascal (Kovacs) who consoles and swindles a group of rich, silly widows. Much of the film’s “humor” is a tasteless lampoon of mental-hospital patients.
A FRENCH MISTRESS: A shapely mademoiselle from Paris (Agnès Laurent) stirs up all kinds of innocent mischief after joining the teaching staff of an English school for boys. Though predictable all the way, it’s a smoothly professional comedy which benefits from the presence of such adroit farceurs as James Robertson Justice and Cecil Parker.
HAND IN HAND: Toronto’s ebullient Helen Winston produced this pleasant little opus in Britain, with a story about two children whose friendship flourishes despite religious differences. The girl (Loretta Parry) is a Jew, and the boy (Philip Needs) is a Catholic. Both are charming and unaffected under the skilled direction of Philip Leacock, who made The Little Kidnappers.
PEPE: Mexico’s idol, Cantinflas, is a gifted and endearing comedian but his talents are sadly diluted in this marathon yarn. Producer-director George Sidney, obviously trying to storm the box office in the Mike Todd manner, has clogged the screen with dozens of “guest stars” ranging from Frank Sinatra to Hedda Hopper, but most of their cameo “bits” are dull and perfunctory. Hollywood itself is the locale, with Cantinflas as a lovable hobo endeavoring to protect his pet horse from exploitation in the movie colony.
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