John Guillermin, the London-born director of the classic disaster film “The Towering Inferno” directed this film in 1965, a moving drama set in France called “Rapture”.
I am familiar with some of Guillermin’s catalogue, from the aforementioned “Towering Inferno” to his ’76 version of “King Kong” to his 60’s war film “The Blue Max”. I hadn’t seen this though, so it was a treat to see that it was being added to Eureka’s brilliant line of classic titles, with a new version of the film being put out.
The first thing that struck me upon watching the film was the cinematography. It is just beautiful, and with the new transfer it looks even better than I can imagine it did when it was released those many years ago. The music also stood out, a poignant score from Georges Delerue (Platoon, A Man for All Seasons) that just took the film experience to another level. It is worth noting how well the camera work and the music work together, as if both Delerue and Guillermin walked hand-in-hand throughout the process of the movie. This attention to care is a joy to witness.
The story follows Agnes (Patricia Gozzi) a teenage loner who is without the comfort of friendship. We see a man named Joseph (Dean Stockwell) turn up at Agnes’s home, a farm she lives on with her father, Frederick (Melvyn Douglas). Joseph, an escaped convict, begins to have an attraction to Agnes, and the film tells the story of the two and Frederick’s obvious refusal to accept their relationship. It is a story that felt, to me anyway, ahead of its time, and the coming-of-age of Anges was a great thing to see, while the performances, especially that of Stockwell as Joseph, were incredible and entirely memorable.
Gozzi, considering her lack of experience as an actress, entered a brilliant piece of work here, and it is quite shocking to see that she did very little, and stopped acting two films after this at only 23 years old. She surely could have been a megastar of her day had she continued in the profession. The three main cast members just did a terrific job of telling the story and bringing the situation that they experienced to life.
Romantic, tragic, moving and truly special, I regret not discovering, and watching, this film sooner. Almost fifty years after its original release and Rapture has been allowed a chance to see the light of day once more thanks to Eureka’s Masters of Cinema label, and that is a wonderful thing. This should be a much heartier discussed film, and I feel like now that this new release is around, it just might be.