Bluebeard (Richard Burton version)
Reviewed by John Weber
Rating: 6 Beans
he late Richard Burton was reputed to be one of the greatest actors that ever lived. And if you take a look at "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", it's hard to disagree. But for every great performance like "Virginia Woolf", there seems to be two howlers like "Exorcist II: The Heretic" or "Candy". Or this one.
The contents of "Bluebeard" include: a bunch of beautiful girls, often baring their breasts (including Joey Heatherton), lesbian sex, a decapitation, animal cruelty, sadism, Jell-O, deaths by chandelier, birds and suffocation in a coffin and Raquel Welch as a randy nun. All from the director of "The Caine Mutiny" and "Raintree County", Edward Dmytryk. With all this stuff going for it, "Bluebeard" is, for the most part, flat, drab and worthy of lots of ridicule.
The main problem is Sir Richard. Either he was given a horse tranquilizer or told by Dmytryk to underplay the hell out of this. Oh, he does. He almost drops out of camera range while a flock of Eurotrash actresses compete to see who can play it flatter. That's vocally, not visually.
The bizarro story is one of Baron von Sepper (Burton). He was a German war hero who survived a plane crash with a couple of problems. Like a chemical reaction that turned his beard blue. And another problem that gives him, ahem, pause when it's time to consummate his many marriages. 'Tis easier to kill 'em than sleep with 'em, so he does. He has helpers that come and go in this flick, like one old lady that looks exactly like the old Johnny Carson character Aunt Blabby. Really.
He marries and then kills a boatload of women, the stories told in flashback to his final wife, Joey Heatherton.
This movie is so dull that her spunk (note I didn't say acting ability - I said spunk) wakes "Bluebeard" up. There are a couple of amusing scenes in this unsuccessful black comedy, like Virna Lisi as the wife who won't stop singing - until she loses her head in the guillotine ("how else could I shut her up", explains the Baron). Or Marilu Tolo as his perfect match - a manly woman with no sexual drive whatsoever - until they get into a drunken brawl (Gee, you think Burton's ever been in one of those?!?). They both find out for the first time - she likes to get slapped around. He promptly drowns her in a vat of wine.
I must say - Joey H. is adorable, especially in a scene where Burton suddenly thinks he's John Derek and takes shot after sexy shot of her in bed. And Raquel Welch is actually quite funny as a nun repenting for her former wicked, wicked ways - but she must tell Burton all - and I mean all! - about it!
"Bluebeard"'s a good bad movie - enjoy the scenery, mock the outstanding Shakespearean actor who must have chose his film projects with a dart board, wonder what the heck the director was thinking - and remember that there are worse Richard Burton movies out there waiting for you. Like "The Klansman"...and "Absolution"...and "Circle of Two"...
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