(vt Beauties of the Night) French/Italian movie (1952). Franco London/Angelo Rizzoli. Dir René Clair. Screenplay Clair, with Pierre Barillet, Jean-Pierre Gredy. Starring Martine Carol (Edmé), Gina Lollobrigida (Leila), Gérard Philipe (Claude), Magali Vendeuil (Suzanne). 89 mins. B/w.
The vivid Dreams of frustrated pianist Claude combine to create a set of Alternate Realities in which he is an astonishingly successful composer pursued by beautiful women in three different historical eras, each regarded by its successors as a Golden Age: pre-Revolutionary France, 19th-century Algeria and the Fin de Siècle. Soon, however, events in his mundane reality start to impinge on the alternate realities and vice versa, while the alternate realities start leaking into each other. At last Claude, aided by mundane-reality friends, flees the vengeful husbands, brothers and fathers of his various amours in an astonishing car chase through history, from Neanderthal times, the Flood and the Roman era to the present – where it does not stop merely because it has obtruded into today. Steeped in Music, this rich fantasy caused some sensation on release – if you peer closely you can just see Lollobrigida's left buttock – but until recently was largely forgotten. [JG]