The Ambassador\’s Daughter Film Details
Overview: Joan Fisk, daughter of the American ambassador to France, is bored with entertaining the wives of visiting V.I.P.s and decides to conduct an experiment. She accepts a date with an American …
Review: What I learned about the fascinating Paris sewer system was easily the best part of this film. Unfortunately that scene lasts for about 2 minutes. The rest of the film just seemed flat, dull, limp. The production values of this film are the next best thing. It is, indeed, a Technicolor treat to the eyes. The women’s costumes are lovely. The sets are also nice. However, the director is totally clue-less about the artistic use of a camera or a soundtrack. Much of this film lacks background music. This lack of comedy-mood-setting music is devastating because this story is not inherently funny, and the only member of the cast that has a sense of comedy (or really has any funny lines) is Tom Noonan. So whatever comedy is there, is undermined by the lack of an appropriate soundtrack. There are a couple of scenes when we hear some ambient, “street” music – the predictable Parisian accordion, and the completely unexpected Breton bagpipes droning in an over-packed Eiffel Tower elevator – preposterous and rude, but not funny! There is also music, of course at the ballet, where the scenes are photographed in a totally static, pedestrian, uncreative way. However, background piano or light string music is conspicuously absent in the charity fashion show scenes. And transitional scenes such as Forsythe’s walking along a street toward the airline ticket office are music- less. Without music, such scenes contribute nothing to the erstwhile “comedy” atmosphere of the film. Instead, they are just flat plot devices. The entire film is similarly flawed, leaving it to the actors, themselves, to convey the comedy. Unfortunately none of these actors is up to the task. The plot is a lot like Clash of the Titans – a mythical melodrama! But instead of Greek gods testing the character of a “mortal,” here we have a senator, a general and the U.S. ambassador to France testing the character of a U.S. serviceman in Paris. Except for Noonan, the cast plays this movie like a Greek tragedy. Noonan is a little more restrained than usual, although he still seems very hammy because his role is in such stark contrast to the rest of the cast. He seems like he is performing in a completely different movie. The repetitious wallet-losing has potential for comedy that is totally lost. The first instance sets off a heated accusation-and-denial confrontation between Forsythe and DeHavilland. After such heat, it is so suddenly and easily dismissed that it is very awkward. It is not simply a lost opportunity for comedy, but it’s unreal. When the wallet is lost a second time, while DeHavilland and Forsythe are at a nightclub, the comedy is supposed to be conveyed by the two actors yukking it up with stage laughter. DeHavilland’s predictable line, “I didn’t steal it” is supposed to be the cause of such belly-laughing for them (and presumably for us). Sadly, the line would have been only moderately humorous had it been well delivered. The nightclub has another lost opportunity for comedy. Instead of ending in a funny encounter between Forsythe, the club host and the gendarmes, it is a mere plot device – everybody playing it straight – most polite, gracious and sincere! What one commentator mistakenly calls the final scene is actually the penultimate scene. It is admittedly one of the better scenes AND (coincidentally) one of the few with soundtrack music to help set the mood! (This scene WOULD have made for a nice ending, but the director is too heavy-handed for that. So in a totally superfluous scene tacked onto the end, we see Bride DeHavilland and Groom Forsythe, with the rest of the cast kneeling in a cathedral before a priest during what is obviously their wedding ceremony.) Olivia DeHavilland is, as several commentators have noted, hopelessly miscast. She is not only too old, but comic delivery is a part of her craft that totally eludes her. John Forsythe, likewise has no sense of comedy or comic timing. He plays his role almost exactly the same as Harry Hamlin portrayed Perseus in Clash of the Titans! Menjou, who I usually enjoy, delivers a very unfunny performance as the senator. The senator is (unbelievably!) a tightwad. His touching of DeHavilland’s face at the ballet is not only unsporting, but also offensive. His character is very unsympathetic, if not downright despicable – and definitely NOT funny. And the lip service paid to penny-pinching is not ever comical. Myrna Loy… WHY? She is another one of my faves, but here she seems bereft of energy. She seems rather wistful or even sad when attempting to discuss the Prince with Menjou or offering “motherly” advice to DeHavilland. Then her scene with Forsythe at the ballet is definitely NOT funny. She tells Forsythe that she was in the presence of Menjou when he struck “a woman” (HA-HA! Now THAT’S hilarious! I wonder who she meant? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge! ) The general is a mere functionary, and Edward Arnold almost a non-entity. Finally, there is DeHavilland’s fiancé, the Prince. What was he doing in this film? He has about 3 “straight” lines, and the rest of the time he strains to sit around looking “princely.” He provides no conflict with Forsythe or resistance to DeHavilland’s leaving him. He is a totally superfluous “prop!” I never felt any chemistry among ANY of the cast members. Consequently, I was pretty indifferent to their respective fates. They all seemed to be actors delivering lines and receiving a paycheck at the end of the day. I suspect each one of them regards this film as a personal embarrassment. The plot is weak, the lines weaker. The cinematography is totally unimaginative, wasting some nice sets. The direction is clue-less. The acting is uninspired, failing to strike the right tone. And the lack of a good soundtrack is the nail in the coffin of this cadaver. Lifeless.
Language: English, French
Duration: 103 min
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Also known as: Die große und die kleine Welt,La figlia dell’ambasciatore,Córka ambasadora,Fiica ambasadorului,Paris tatili,La hija del embajador,The Ambassador’s Daughter,De dochter van de ambassadeur,A Filha do Embaixador,Ambassadörens dotter,I kori tou presveftou,Ambassadørens datter,Ambasadorova cerka,La fille de l’ambassadeur,恋は巴里で,Suurlähettilään tytär