France's most famous bombshells, Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau, "make an unbeatable comedy team" (Motion Picture Herald) in this "joyfully romantic fairy tale for adults!" (Life)! "Fast-moving, eye-catching and filled ... more »with sight gags" (Cue), this hysterical film from three-time OscarÂ(r)-nominated* director Louis Malle (My Dinner With Andre) and co-writer Jean-Claude Carriere satirizes everything from American westerns to revolutions, dictators, the Church, priesthood and even sex itself! When two women Â? both named Maria Â? unwittingly invent the striptease circa 1910, they become such a hit that enthusiastic audiences strip along with them! But when one of the Marias falls for a handsome revolutionary (George Hamilton), she finds that she has unwittingly embroiled the two of them in an armed peasant revolt! *1987: Original Screenplay, Au Revoir Les Enfants; 1981: Director, Atlantic City; 1972: Director, Murmur of the Heart« less
"Viva Maria is a wonderfully sexy, screwball, and at times surreal period comedy starring the two great French sex symbols of the sixties - Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau. I must admit that when I first saw the film (when I was young and impressionable) I was primarily attracted to the obvious charms of La Bardot. But now that I am older and wiser (well, older anyway) I can fully appreciate the subtle sensuality of Jeanne Moreau whose gorgeous eyes alone could seduce any man. Together, these two make a formidable team and seem to genuinely spark off each other.The plot is suitably silly. In some unnamed South American country, Bardot is an Irish (!) terrorist's daughter who has learned all the tricks of the trade before suddenly becoming orphaned. On the run from the authorities, she takes refuge with a motley band of travelling performers whose shows seem to mix circus and music hall. Moreau is a star attraction although she has just lost the partner in her double act. Naturally, the two girls - both named Maria - end up on stage together where problems with the costumes lead to some delightful striptease sequences. The girls are a big hit - no surprise!The troupe's travels take them to a country in the midst of revolution. Moreau falls for the rebel leader - George Hamilton, of all people, trying hard to look moody and magnificent. When he is killed (sad for Maria, relief for the audience) the two Marias take over leadership of the rebels - inspired by Moreau's zeal and Bardot's technical knowledge of explosives.The film rattles along at a brisk pace, littered along the way with saucy humour and outrageous sight gags. There is a marvellous supporting cast to jolly things along, chief among them the droll Claudio Brook as the head of the troupe - a crack shot obsessed with developing a gun to shoot around corners. And, as is Louis Malle's habit, there are also some bitingly funny digs at the Catholic Church. This is not a film to be taken seriously, as its many surreal touches prove. For example, the skeleton of a horse and rider. Or the big black border guards who drink tea and speak English with impeccable Oxbridge accents. It says a lot for the ensemble playing that the film is still fun when Bardot and Moreau are not on screen.But, of course, it's fantastic when they are - Bardot the playful kitten who enjoys sex and explosives equally, and Moreau the slightly more mature cat: sleek, sensuous and seductive. I hate to tell you about the dreams I had for weeks after seeing her love scene with Hamilton - in a prison with him chained to a wall.Not a great film, perhaps, but certainly superlative entertainment. It would make a great double feature with Philippe de Broca's "King of Hearts". The video version is also extemely well done, with bright yellow easy-to-read subtitles, even if they occasionally clean up the translations.Viva Bardot! Viva Moreau!"
A Titillating Good-Time Romp
Nathan Southern | 09/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A lovely film. Two hours of nonstop, off-the-wall fun. "Viva Maria" recalls the better 70s productions of Roger Corman, because it shares their basic reliance on violence, sex, and titillation for entertainment... without sacrificing quality in story, character, or performance. It is the closest Louis Malle has ever come to an exploitation film, and further proof that Malle was one of the true cinematic geniuses of the 20th century, on par with Fellini and Bergman, and literally incapable of making a less-than-superb movie. The first hour of the picture is more enjoyable than the second, with Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau as vaudevillians who do a series of striptease acts for Central American audiences, around the turn of the century. As the film progresses, Malle makes the striptease scenes randier and randier, and at one point, we almost believe that the two actresses will go all the way (Bardot comes so close that my jaw dropped open). Yet the strongest element of the film -- also fully realized during this half --- is its unique, quirky humour. The Central Americans' reactions to the Bardot/Moreau circus are a laugh riot, and the sight gags highly original; I've never seen anything like them in a movie before.The second half isn't bad -- for about thirty minutes, it slows down a bit as Bardot & Moreau become revolutionaries, and Malle shifts to pure action and Peckinpah-style violence -- but even these scenes, in their own way, are engaging -- and the humor resurfaces in the end of the film, *coupled* with violence, for an incredible finish.Because of the clearly contrived story (the idea of putting two major French female sex symbols in a movie that involves strippers and guns), this is the type of film that could've turned into a major flop, yet Malle and his co-screenwriter pulled it off. "Viva Maria"'s success is attributable to strong writing, two splendid lead performances, and, of course, those two elements that never fail to entertain -- sex and violence.Highly recommended."
Almost a Masterpiece
Nathan Southern | 09/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie on Turner Classic Movies not too long ago. It was in English. The dubbing was quite good. This was one of the few movies that exceeded my expectations. I usually come away at least somewhat disappointed. Not with this movie. It was very entertaining and I believe a near masterpiece. The reviewer from Michigan pretty much expresses my own sentiments. For her energetic and enchanting performance, Bardot deservedly was nominated for a BAFTA award (British's Oscar equivalent) for best actress in a foreign film.This movie is highly recommended."
Nathan Southern | 07/12/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Viva Maria" is a cute film with a lot of action, some campy songs and Brigitte Bardot! Jeanne Moreau is Bardot's co-star, but you'll have a hard time noticing her, since in most shots she's standing next to Bardot! Brigitte was never lovelier than she is in this film, and she demonstrates a nice touch for comedy! If you're a Louis Malle fan, you'll be surprised-- this film is unlike any of his other movies that I can think of! It's light and fluffy and very focused. I particularly liked the finale, in which various circus characters that we've come to know use their circus talents to rescue the Marias. Of course, much of this film's cleverness may seem dated now -- we've all seen variations of many of the film's best elements time and again since this was released in 1965! But there's no chance anyone will ever top Bardot -- she's perfection!"
Des sous-titres ! Que c'est bon !
David E. Miller | Las Vegas, USA | 04/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is great farce! You'll adore "Team Maria" (Bardot and Moreau), enjoy the often spectacular scenery, and get a real kick out of the bizarre and offbeat moments in this wonderful film. As for me, I highly appreciate the French subtitles. I have a number of French films, and although I understand French quite well, I sometimes miss bits of dialogue. This is the only French language film (though a few words of Spanish and English are uttered, too) I have on DVD that actually provides French subtitles. If you are a student of the French language, this film is a must. And if you are a student of La Bardot . . . eh bien, qu'attends-tu ?"