Heroes and Sinners (1955) Poster

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8/10
Diamonds and lust
dbdumonteil5 October 2010
Another good movie trashed by the -don't-bother-the-new-wave-is around-the- corner French critics,like so many others in the fifties .Main reason is ,should we believe them, the two principals' (Montand and Jurgens) third-rate acting;Montand was much worse in later works and his co-star won a prize for best actor for his performance .

Although it's an adventures movie,influenced by John Huston -the diamonds playing the same role as the Maltese Falcon or the treasure of the Sierra Madre - ,it achieves the feat of taking place almost entirely in a seedy hotel in Africa ,where a lot of people down on their luck have ended up ,a situation not unlike that in Billy Wilder's "fives graves to Cairo" ,with the same cosmopolitanism ;and ,this is a thing to underline,everybody speaks his own language (French,English,German,African) and to put the French audience in the same situation as the hero,there are no subtitles,which was particularly risqué in the fifties .

Aside from the (very short) sequence when Montand goes out of the jungle and the impressive finale which belongs to Jean Servais who here steals the show with a feverish crazy performance ,everything happens in the hotel rooms where the (tired :that's what the title means)heroes sweat -few directors can have their audience sweat too;the movie which comes to mind is Yves Allégret's "Les Orgueilleux").But what makes this movie memorable is the depiction of Christmas night in an African dump: one third of the movie is given over to these mad scenes , posh black people dancing to the tune of the Blue Danube whilst the others are faithful to their ancestral tribal dances,Gert "Goldfinger" Froebe ( fatter than ever)breaking into "Stille Nacht ,Heilige Nacht",Maria Felix's quivering sensuality and Servais ,eaten with desire ,destroying the the last chance boat while singing "Il Etait Un Petit Navire...." (there was once little ship which had never been to sea).In its own way ,it compares favorably with Von Stenberg's sensational depiction of New Year's Eve in "the Shanghai Gesture".

Yves Ciampi made few movies ,many of which are undistinguished ("Un Grand Patron" "Typhon Sur Nagasaki"),but this one and "Qui Etes Vous Monsieur Sorge?" ,are notable exceptions.
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