(director: John Schlesinger; screenwriter: Frederic Raphael; cinematographer: Kenneth Higgins; editor: James Clark; music: John Dankworth; cast: Dirk Bogarde (Robert Gold), Laurence Harvey (Miles Brand), Julie Christie (Diana Scott), Jose Luis de Villalonga (Cesare), Roland Curram (Malcolm), Basil Henson (Alec Prosser-Jones); Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joseph Janni; Columbia; 1965-UK)
“A rather constipated and badly dated Brit New Wave social satire film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A rather constipated and badly dated Brit New Wave social satire film, written by novelist Frederic Raphael to point out jet set alienation and corrupt Western values. It was based on an idea by radio disc jockey Godfrey Winn, who handed in a ten-page draft of his story to Schlesinger about an upscale model he knew who committed suicide. In turn, the director turned the draft over to Raphael. It’s set in London during the Swinging Sixties. It’s about a seductive pretty and ambitious jet set model, Diana Scott (Julie Christie), who was always bored and never satisfied as she uses sex to get ahead and uses famous, influential and wealthy men to keep climbing the ladder to wealth. As one critic previously said, “she went from bed to worse.” Christie, in her first starring role, won the Best Actress Oscar and was catapulted to a major international star, showing off her talent even in a pretentious piece of junk like Darling. Director John Schlesinger (“Midnight Cowboy”/”Billy Liar”/”Sunday Bloody Sunday”) keeps it tuned into the tenor of the changing times, and other than depicting the lifestyles of the amoral in what seems like a leaden and unrealistic way, he only helms a fluff film of little substance–one that was overrated at the time because of its dazzling nature.
The film is told in flashback as the shallow and callous Diana Scott, an Italian princess by marriage and a notorious jet setter, is being interviewed by a reporter from a woman’s magazine at her Italian villa.
Dazzler Diana begins her biopic by telling how she was an ordinary child, just a little darling, and as a grown-up model the darling attracted prominent TV journalist Robert Gold (Dirk Bogarde), the film’s voice of reason and moral center, who promptly abandons his family to live with her. Gold introduces Diana to a more powerful and wealthy social set and she moves on in her vacuous search for happiness to desert the intellectual journalist and hook up next with well-connected public relations executive Miles Brand (Laurence Harvey). She then takes up with homosexual photographer Malcolm (Roland Curram), who brings her to Italy to film commercials. Over there she will seduce and marry millionaire Italian widower, the prince Cesare (Jose-Luis deVillalonga), who takes her as his trophy wife.
Despite being stylishly fashionable and showing off a string of smart London swingers and their debauchery, this Black & White shot big hit of the Sixties grew incrementally more tiresome with each affair. The trite dialogue went mostly like this: Bogarde to Christie: “Your idea of being fulfilled is having more than one man in bed at the same time.” Since this seems to be true, what it exposes after two hours of looking at the superficial swingers is not much to get excited about. It’s basically glossy trash, dressed-up to look good and adult.
REVIEWED ON 8/17/2009 GRADE: C+