A scene from THE GOLDEN COACH, directed by Jean Renoir for Les Films Corona.

The Golden Coach (1952, Jean Renoir)

I hate the wad-shooting reviews, because they usually mean someone great is falling or has fallen into mediocrity or worse. Here’s another one.

I’ve never seen late period (1950s-) Renoir film before, or even one of his Hollywood films, but I’ve heard bad things. The Golden Coach is certainly a bad thing. It’s got a bad setting–colonial Central America, under Spanish rule–and an international cast. It’s cruel to expect the audience to take someone misspeaking in heavily accented English and Renoir does it. His leading lady, played by Anna Magnani, chokes through her English dialogue. It’s so bad I had to turn on the subtitles. Occasionally she speaks Italian, but Criterion didn’t think to give it a subtitle track–I didn’t bother to see if the subs for the Italian were included in the English subtitles. I doubt they were.

The character is almost a Renoir character, but the film fails her. The screenplay wanders and meanders, mostly because there isn’t a story and it’s impossible to milk it. I suppose Fellini could have milked it, but Renoir isn’t Fellini. Renoir isn’t even Renoir here. The Golden Coach lacks the dual beauty of Renoir’s earlier films, the beautiful direction and the beautiful human condition.

Sitting through it, I started appreciating Kubrick, Clint and Woody more, just because they never tripped, never fell. There are some missteps (I’m not sure there’s a more glaring misstep in any filmography than The Shining), but they never fell.

If you’ve got insomnia, I really recommend this film.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Jean Renoir; written by Renoir, Jack Kirkland, Renzo Avanzo and Giulio Macchi; director of photography, Claude Renoir; edited by David Hawkins; production designer, Mario Chiari; produced by Francesco Alliata; released by Les Films Corona.

Starring Anna Magnani (Camilla), Odoardo Spadaro (Don Antonio), Nada Fiorelli (Isabella), Dante (Arlequin), Duncan Lamont (Ferdinand, Le Viceroy), George Higgins (Martinez), Ralph Truman (Duc de Castro), Gisella Mathews (Marquise Irene Altamirano), Raf De La Torre (Le Procureur), Elena Altieri (Duchesse de Castro), Paul Campbell (Felipe), Riccardo Rioli (Ramon, le Toreador), William Tubbs (Aubergiste) and Jean Debucourt (Eveque de Carmol).


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