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Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Certain Smile (1958)

Christine Carère
French actress Christine Carère (1930-2008) plays Dominique, a young college student in Paris with a weathly, go-getter boyfriend (Bradford Dillman, 1930- ). She meets some interesting people at the beginning of her new school term, including a "new" American singer named Johnny Mathis (1935-), who appears in a fun cameo. (Thankfully, he just sings, not acts) She also meets Dillman's uncle (Rossano Brazzi, 1916-1994) and Brazzi's wife (Joan Fontaine, 1917- ), who will impact her life forever.

Dominique is suspicious of rich Uncle Brazzi's charm; he's a bit too friendly with her when they first meet. As the film/story progresses, they become more attracted to each other, and they eventually fall in love. Or so she thinks... Poor Joan. As the stressed-out wife, she's only a supporting player in this, but she has some very good scenes, especially when she confronts Dominique about the affair, and teaches the young girl a thing or two, which is I think is the best scene in the film. Dillman also has a good scene when he finds out; it's a good drunk scene.

One thing I noticed is that in almost every scene she's in, Joan's character is chugging a cigarette. I highly doubt Ms Fontaine was a serious smoker offscreen, otherwise I don't think she would have lived as long as she has. Though she did appear in those Chesterfield ads.

Directed by Jean Negulesco. Some great scenery of Paris and the French Riviera, where Carère and Brazzi plan an escape getaway. I couldn't tell exactly where on the Riviera they were supposed to be, I think Antibes.

Ms. Carère's accent is a bit thick, and I had some trouble making out what she was saying much of the time. But she is very talented and I wish she would have made more films; she was only in a few American films before she retired from acting in the 1960s. Other than that, I don't know anything else about her. Unfortunately her name is not one that most other people will remember either. However, you might not be able to forget her once you see A Certain Smile.

The theme was a big hit song, made famous by Johnny Mathis.\


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