The Comedians

Director: Peter Glenville
Year Released: 1967
Rating: 1.0

One would think with over two-and-a-half hours of footage something interesting would be presented to its groggy audience. Instead, director Peter Glenville (who made the fine Becket) drags out all matters for what seems like forever, and every scene simply reinforces Graham Greene's (whose screenplay this is based on) belief that during Duvalier's reign in Haiti, he was running a fascist regime, psychologically and physically beating his people. The living conditions were horrendous, the people were starving and crippled, there was no such thing as privacy, people had to kill themselves if they said anything negative about the government (else the government would do it for them). A slow, dull travelogue, this one, in which typically good actors are reduced to unflattering, idiotic roles (particularly Alec Guinness, but also dialect swapping Liz Taylor). The only two that seem comfortable in their own shoes, to put it mildly, are Richard Burton and Peter Ustinov - Burton is believable in every scene as an inhabitant of this 'strange land'; Ustinov plays the cuckold to Taylor's sex kitten (who apparently drives Burton mad with her philandering). Actually, in retrospect, I'm shocked I finished watching it. And before I forget: the title is "symbolic." Right.