Written by / 6/29/2017 / No comments / , , , , , , , ,

CHARLES CHAPLIN ENDS WITH 'A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG'

Sophia Loren plays A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG Year: 1967
By the late sixties, Charlie Chaplin and Marlon Brando were both iconic performers known for their topnotch skills: The first a physical comic and the latter extremely dramatic... 

So when Brando tries for comedy in Chaplin's final directorial effort, A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG, it's one of the most dramatically awkward performances ever... by anyone. But it's mostly Chaplin's fault. Having once told Orson Welles that he needn't move the camera using creative angles because his antics made up for it, he should have realized that wasn't the case with Brando and/or Sophia Loren; the latter our titular stowaway on a ship holding the multi-millionaire oilman "captive" in his room while on the verge of gaining importance in politics, or something...

Sophia Loren with Marlon Brando COUNTESS Rates: ***1/2
The gimmick is that he... or, they... need to avoid getting caught. Making for ninety-minutes of perpetual sideways motion...

Whenever their cabin bell buzzes, Sophia leaps up and races into the bathroom with Brando scooting behind her... 

Then Brando timidly doubles-back at the last minute... but without the suspenseful timing for that last minute to matter... heading anxiously for the door while adjusting either his robe or tie: meeting with important people he's hiding Loren from, eventually with the aid of his faithful sidekick, Charlie's son, Sydney Chaplin, as an assistant who helps him cover things up...

Marlon BRAndo Poster
Overall, the focal point is Loren's infectious charm, immense beauty, and how she slowly melts the icy heir/tycoon. And not all scenes take place in the room. Once or twice they go out to the upper deck, or a grand dancing room, where the dialogue neither moves the story or makes it any more interesting, which doesn't seem to matter...

A Brilliant Gay Comedy Romance!?
This isn't meant to be a scalding or negative review because there's an addictive pleasure in watching the famously stern method actor attempt the kind of physical comedy that his director was known for, only tapered down... 

Speaking of, Chaplin himself appears as an old purser; his daughter Geraldine a philosophical girl in the ship's dance hall countered by two time "Bond Girl" Angela Scoular representing the filthy-stupid rich; and THE BIRDS starlet Tippi Hendren, as Brando's classy wife, finally shows up at the 11th hour...

Which... after all the tedious running around, including a drunken British dolt desperately trying to hook up with Sophia followed by a surprisingly randy (and actually somewhat humorous) suitor who started out initially aloof/uninterested in women... seems like the millionth hour... 

And yet, still somehow, it's a letdown that the characters had to leave that room  the repetitive comfort of its limited space, with our miscast yet breezy duo, was the best thing going: not fully realized till it's gone. Oh and at one point an old rich woman, having nothing to do with anything before and after, is lying in her bed, and orders the Captain to throw away her Russian (Teddy) Bear because "the tongue's too Red." Get it?
Sophia Loren as A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG
Marlon Brando with director Charlie Chaplin in A Countess with Hong Kong
Marlon Brando and co-star/director's son Sydney Chaplin in A Countess from Hong Kong
Angela Scoular as Society Girl in A Countess from Hong Kong
Tippi Hendren as the anticipated wife in A Countess from Hong Kong
Angela Scoular in A Countess From Hong Kong with Marlon Brando
Unnamed starlet is girl-next-door adorable and one Countess from Hong Kong
Sophia suitor Patrick Cargill with Angela Pringle as a baroness in A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG
Leading back to THE Countess from Hong Kong Sophia Loren
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