PORTRAIT D'UN ASSASSIN (1949)
Vivian Perez | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | 03/11/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"aka Portrait of an Assassin (1949) aka Pasión Prohibida(Drama, 1 hr 30 min, Black & White) S.E.L.F. - FRANCEDIRECTOR: Bernard Roland CAST: Maria Montez (As: Christina), Erich Von Stroheim (As: Eric), Arletty (As: Martha), Pierre Brasseur (Fabius), Jules Berry (Pfeiffer), Marcel Dalio (Fred) COMMENTS: Christina (Montez) is the sadistic manager of a circus show, who uses her attractiveness to seduce men. But she only gives-up to them in exchange of promises of performing a dangerous acrobatic act in motorcycle which it could cause them the death or make them handicaps for ever, as it happened to several of her lovers. One of them, the unfortunate Eric (Von Streheim), who became handicap.An evening, Fabius (Brasseur) met this diabolic woman and soon he abandons his wife because of Lucienne.Then Martha (Arletty), Fabius' wife, with the intention of saving him, she shows up to the circus and performs the lethal acrobatic act, which it causes her death. Due to the sacrifice of his beloved wife, Fabius understands at last that he has been manipulated by the evil Lucienne and he takes the decision of killing her.After committing the murder and completely convinced that he is going to die, he rides the motorcycle for performing the dangerous acrobatic act, but miraculously, he survives and goes to the police to confess his crime.This one was the second and last French movie of Maria and she was more successful and seductive than ever before.In this occasion, and by the first time, the critics said her performance was adequate and she demonstrates she has some worthy elements.Even the French critic, André Bazin, famous by his merciless comments, he admitted that Montez was not so bad in this movie. Other critics were more specific by saying she was the appropriate actress for this role.This movie was projected in the U.S. only in the art theathers."
Worth seeing for any Stroheim fan.
McTeague | San Francisco | 03/13/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"If, like me, you spend your lazy hours watching Erich's performances in obscure B movies hoping every so often to find the gold, this movie pays off pretty well. Erich's performance in this film is small, but extremely moving, and deserves to be extracted from the rest of this silly movie and placed in that great Erich von Stroheim highlight video that every EvS fan would love to see someday.
The cult of Stroheim is a difficult one to follow. Its practitioners must sift through countless hours of old film in the hope of catching a glimpse of the real Stroheim, somewhere amid all the mutilation and the mediocrity: a woman making love to a bed of gold coins, a simpleton left to his fate in the middle of Death Valley, a convent girl presiding over an orgy in an African brothel, a brutal bully just as brutally murdered by an orangutan. If social taboos had not stopped him, he would have been the Moliere of the 20th Century. In this film, near the end of his career, we see this intensely proud artist, now old, actually caring enough about some crummy role to actually cry real tears for it. Worth seeing for any Stroheim fan.