60% Rotten Tomatoes
Director Charlie Chaplin
Music director Charlie Chaplin
Genre Comedy, Romance
Initial DVD release February 4, 2003
Country United Kingdom
|Release date 5 January 1967|
Writer Charles Chaplin (original screenplay)
Initial release January 5, 1967 (United Kingdom)
Cast Marlon Brando (Ogden Mears), Sophia Loren (Natascha), Tippi Hedren (Martha), Sydney Chaplin (Harvey Crothers), Charles Chaplin (Chefsteward), Margaret Rutherford (Miss Gaulswallow)
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A countess from hong kong 1967
A Countess from Hong Kong is a 1967 British comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin and starring Marlon Brando, Sophia Loren, Tippi Hedren and Sydney Chaplin, Chaplin's third son. It was the last film directed, written, produced and scored by Chaplin, and one of two films Chaplin directed in which he did not play a major role (the other was 1923's A Woman of Paris), as well as his only color film. Chaplin's cameo marked his final screen appearance.
The story is based loosely on the life of a woman Chaplin met in France, named Moussia Sodskaya, or "Skaya" as he calls her in his 1922 book, My Trip Abroad. She was a Russian singer and dancer who "was a stateless person marooned in France without a passport". The idea, according to a press release written by Chaplin after the movie received a negative reception, "resulted from a visit I made to Shanghai in 1931 where I came across a number of titled aristocrats who had escaped the Russian Revolution. They were destitute and without a country, their status was of the lowest grade. The men ran rickshaws and the women worked in ten-cent dance halls. When the Second World War broke out many of the old aristocrats had died and the younger generation migrated to Hong Kong where their plight was even worse, for Hong Kong was overcrowded with refugees."
It was originally started as a film called Stowaway in the 1930s, planned for Paulette Goddard, but production was never completed. This resulting film, created nearly 30 years after its inception, was a critical failure and grossed US$2,000,000 from a US$3,500,000 budget. However, it did prove to be extremely successful in Europe and Japan. In addition, the success of the music score was able to cover the budget.
Critics such as Tim Hunter and Andrew Sarris, as well as the poet John Betjeman and the director François Truffaut, viewed the film as being among Chaplin's best works. Actor Jack Nicholson is also a big fan of the film.
Ambassador-designate to Saudi Arabia Ogden Mears (Marlon Brando) sails back to America after touring the world. He meets Natascha, a Russian countess (Sophia Loren), in Hong Kong after she sneaks aboard in evening dress to escape her life at a dance hall for sailors. A refugee, she has no passport and is forced to stay in his cabin during the voyage.
Ogden dislikes the situation, being a married man, although seeking a divorce, and worries how it might affect his career if she is found. But he reluctantly agrees to let her stay. They then have to figure out a way to get her off the ship, and it is arranged that she marry his aged valet, Hudson (Patrick Cargill).
Although it is only a formality, Hudson wishes to consummate the relationship, a wish she does not share. Natascha avoids him and, before docking at port, jumps off the ship and swims ashore.
Ogden's wife (Tippi Hedren) then joins the cruise, having just missed Natasha. Ogden's lawyer friend Harvey (Sydney Earle Chaplin), who helped arrange the marriage, meets Natascha ashore and tells her that the immigration officers have accepted her as Hudson's wife. Ogden's wife then confronts him about Natasha, speaking rather roughly about her and the life she led. He then asks if his wife would have done as well under such circumstances.
The film ends with Ogden and Natascha meeting in a hotel's cabaret, where they begin dancing, since he has left the cruise and his wife behind.
Charlie Chaplin makes two brief appearances as an aged ship's steward.
This was Chaplin's first film in ten years, after 1957's A King in New York. He had written a draft of the script in the late 1930s under the working title The Stowaway, as a starring vehicle for his then-wife Paulette Goddard.
He originally wanted Rex Harrison or Cary Grant to play the lead but eventually Marlon Brando was cast. Both Brando and Sophia Loren agreed to play their parts without reading a script. Shooting began on 25 January 1966 at Pinewood Studios; it was frequently interrupted by Brando arriving late and then being hospitalised with appendicitis, Chaplin and Brando having the flu, and Loren remarrying Carlo Ponti. Filming wrapped on 5 January 1967.
This is Tippi Hedren's first feature film after her break with director Alfred Hitchcock. She had high hopes for the film, until she received the script. When she realised that she had a small part as Brando's estranged wife, she asked Chaplin to expand her role. Although Chaplin tried to accommodate her, he could not, as the story mostly takes place on a ship, which Hedren's character boards near the end of the film. In the end, she remained in the film and later said that it was a pleasure working for him.
It was filmed entirely at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, just outside London, in 1966. The film was the second of Universal's European unit, following Fahrenheit 451.
The movie was not released on home video until 1996, with the VHS format as part of the Universal Cinema Classics series. Then in 2003 it was released onto DVD in widescreen format, and later re-released as part of the DVD set Marlon Brando: The Franchise Collection.
The film received mixed-to-positive reviews, and has a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
ReferencesA Countess from Hong Kong Wikipedia
A Countess from Hong Kong IMDbA Countess from Hong Kong Rotten TomatoesA Countess from Hong Kong Amazon.comA Countess from Hong Kong themoviedb.org