Man of La Mancha (1972)

Directed by Arthur Hiller

I just watched 1972’s Man of La Mancha (starring Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren, directed by Arthur Hiller). And yes, as many have said, it’s a mess. But you know, it’s a mess that has its moments.

The real problem with this movie is not that it’s a musical but that what it’s based on was a musical. Because of the source material, there are musical numbers thrown in that throw everything askew. If the movie had been done simply as a romantic drama, no musical, the basic conceit of the movie and the casting (particularly the principle roles) would have worked.

But it’s got to throw in those songs and every time it does the movie goes all to hell.

Also, as Roger Ebert points out, they don’t really get the theme of Cervantes’s Don Quixote quite right.

I watched this movie thinking about Terry Gilliam’s ill-fated effort at doing a Don Quixote movie and wondering why making a movie of one of the greatest novels ever, and one of the key characters of all literature, is so hard.

It may be Don Quixote is, by its stature, too daunting. But that’s kind of odd since the essence of the Knight of the Woeful Countenance is the exact opposite of that.

Anyway … the movie, The Man of La Mancha, does have it’s moments. O’Toole does some great pratfalls as the Don and Sophia Loren is … well, she’s Sophia Loren. I think the only reason I watched this movie was to see her. And you know, it was worth it.

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