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With: Jeanne Moreau, Orson Welles, Roger Coggio, Norman Eshley, Fernando Rey
Written by: Orson Welles, Louise de Vilmorin, based on a story by Isak Dinesen
Directed by: Orson Welles
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 58
Date: 05/24/1968

The Immortal Story (1968)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Quest for 'Story'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Orson Welles once claimed that Isak Dinesen (really Karen Blixen) was his favorite writer. He hoped to produce a television series in France based on her stories, but only made it as far as this one film. His first film in color, The Immortal Story tells of a wealthy old merchant, Mr. Clay (Welles). Mr. Clay hears a story about an old man who hires a sailor to impregnate his wife, and, for his own amusement, takes measures to make the tale come true.

To play the various parts, he hires a real sailor (Norman Eshley) and woman (Jeanne Moreau) bent on revenge against Mr. Clay's past transgressions. The Immortal Story is shot on a smaller scale than Welles' other films, but it has all of Welles' hallmarks, including cavernous shots and startling angles. Welles' Mr. Clay seems deliberately stuck, physically and emotionally immobile in the center of all this deeply felt drama.

Unfortunately, this remains one of Welles' most difficult-to-find films. It has never received a proper video release in America, and bootlegs and import DVDs are of variable quality.

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