In transplanting Francoise Sagan's thin book to the screen, producer-director Otto Preminger basically has stayed with her first-person tale of the amours of a middle-aged, charming and wealthy Frenchman within both view and earshot of his daughter who, like the author at the time, is 17. It's hardly a matter of wonder that pere's free-living escapades should prove contagious, that the girl, too, should take a fling at same.

In transplanting Francoise Sagan’s thin book to the screen, producer-director Otto Preminger basically has stayed with her first-person tale of the amours of a middle-aged, charming and wealthy Frenchman within both view and earshot of his daughter who, like the author at the time, is 17. It’s hardly a matter of wonder that pere’s free-living escapades should prove contagious, that the girl, too, should take a fling at same.

But it is not a Class A effort. Script deficiencies and awkward reading – some lines are spoken as though just that – have static results.

Detracting from the make-believe also is Jean Seberg’s deportment. In her second cinematic try (her first was in Preminger’s unfortunate Saint Joan), Seberg’s Cecile is more suggestive of a high school senior back home than the frisky, knowing, close friend and daughter of a roue living it up in the sumptious French setting. She is, of course, a selfish and malicious character to start with.

David Niven is properly affable as the father who travels with a mistress and makes no attempt to disguise his pursuits. Deborah Kerr is a standout talent as the artist whom Niven proposes to marry and who speeds away to apparent suicide upon finding him in another illicit situation, but there are instances where she, too, has difficulty with the stiltedness of the dialog.

Mylene Demongeot fits in well as a silly, sunburned blonde; Geoffrey Horne rates adequate as playmate for Cecile; and Walter Chiari comes off as something of a cariacature of a rich South American.

The Riviera villa backdrop and beach scenes are rich in eye appeal via the CinemaScope and Technicolor photography, and wardrobes make for another visual plus. Effective also is the switch to monochrome for Left Bank bistro scenes.

Bonjour Tristesse

US - UK

Production

Wheel/Columbia. Director Otto Preminger; Producer Otto Preminger; Screenplay Arthur Laurents; Camera Georges Perinal; Editor Helga Cranston; Music Georges Auric; Art Director Roger Furse

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1958. Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Deborah Kerr David Niven Jean Seberg Mylene Demongeot Geoffrey Horne Juliette Greco
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