An Almost Perfect Affair (1979)

R | 92 mins | Romance | 1979

Director:

Michael Ritchie

Producer:

Terry Carr

Cinematographer:

Henri Decae

Production Designer:

Willy Holt

Production Company:

Cannes Artists, Inc.
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HISTORY

The following acknowledgement appears in the end credits, “This film was shot with the cooperation of the airports of Paris and Nice Cote D’Azur.” The credit for Keith Carradine’s wardrobe is written as “Mr. Carradine’s Wardrobe IS HIS OWN.”
       According to production notes at AMPAS library, director Michael Ritchie’s impressions from the 1972 Venice Film Festival, where he was promoting his second feature The Candidate (1972, see entry), was an initial point of reference for the story. The experience was his first time attending an international film festival, and he was struck by the circus-like spectacle of the event. After friend and director George Lucas told him about screening his debut feature THX 1138 (1971, see entry) at the Cannes Film Festival, Ritchie developed a script idea about a young American filmmaker encountering the European festival circuit for the first time and coping with the cultural differences. Ritchie’s desire to return to a personal, low-budget project without disruptions from studio executives emerged in the wake of his box-office success with The Bad News Bears (1976, see entry) and Semi-Tough (1977, see entry), at which point the production, initially titled Cannes Game, began to take shape. As Ritchie stated in a 4 May 1979 NYT article, Paramount Pictures Corp. granted him complete control, including script approval and final cut, in exchange for a scale salary of $44,000.
       Ritchie’s first task was to shoot second unit documentary footage of the 1978 Cannes Film Festival to enhance the setting for the fictional story; although the studio requested that he avoid filming the ... More Less

The following acknowledgement appears in the end credits, “This film was shot with the cooperation of the airports of Paris and Nice Cote D’Azur.” The credit for Keith Carradine’s wardrobe is written as “Mr. Carradine’s Wardrobe IS HIS OWN.”
       According to production notes at AMPAS library, director Michael Ritchie’s impressions from the 1972 Venice Film Festival, where he was promoting his second feature The Candidate (1972, see entry), was an initial point of reference for the story. The experience was his first time attending an international film festival, and he was struck by the circus-like spectacle of the event. After friend and director George Lucas told him about screening his debut feature THX 1138 (1971, see entry) at the Cannes Film Festival, Ritchie developed a script idea about a young American filmmaker encountering the European festival circuit for the first time and coping with the cultural differences. Ritchie’s desire to return to a personal, low-budget project without disruptions from studio executives emerged in the wake of his box-office success with The Bad News Bears (1976, see entry) and Semi-Tough (1977, see entry), at which point the production, initially titled Cannes Game, began to take shape. As Ritchie stated in a 4 May 1979 NYT article, Paramount Pictures Corp. granted him complete control, including script approval and final cut, in exchange for a scale salary of $44,000.
       Ritchie’s first task was to shoot second unit documentary footage of the 1978 Cannes Film Festival to enhance the setting for the fictional story; although the studio requested that he avoid filming the Paramount executives in attendance. Among the real-life personalities he did capture were Rex Reed, Edy Williams, Brooke Shields, Rona Barrett and Farrah Fawcett-Majors, who was at the height of her fame while promoting the film Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978, see entry). In a 24 Mar 1997 Var article, Ritchie recalled that the Cannes landscape was dominated by movie posters for projects seeking funding, and when the filmmakers displayed their fake poster for Shoot Me Before I Kill Again, investors approached with real financial offers. In order to recreate the colorful atmosphere that occurs only during the two-week festival, the filmmakers made arrangements with owners to store unique signage that could be displayed later as set dressing during principal photography. Ritchie noted that the film advertisements throughout the Cannes marketplace seemed appropriate alongside “the make-believe world of Shoot Me Before I Kill Again ” since many of these projects would never get made.
       While shooting the background footage of Cannes, Ritchie offered the lead role of “Hal” to actor Keith Carradine who was in attendance at the 1978 festival and agreed to the project before the screenplay was completed. After Italian actress Monica Vitti was cast as the female lead “Maria,” screenwriters Walter Bernstein and Don Petersen began to develop her character and Carradine’s based on the personalities of the actors.
       Principal photography began Aug 1978 on location in France and continued into Sep 1978.
       On average, reviews described the film as mediocre or misconceived, noting that the background of the Cannes Film Festival was far more interesting than the love story. In the 27 Apr 1979 NYT, critic Janet Maslin was an exception by writing that “whenever the scene shifts to the festival in overview, Mr Carradine, Miss Vitti and their spooning are sorely missed.” Many reviewers who admired Ritchie’s previous films were disappointed that his talent for satire was not fully realized in this project. The performances by Vitti and Raf Vallone (“Freddie”) received enthusiastic praise, but Carradine was often criticized as the weak link in the love triangle. In his 14 May 1979 Time review, Frank Rich noted that “Raf Vallone is so appealing that it is hard to know why Vitti would forsake him.” The film did have a few favorable reviews such as the one in the 25 Apr 1979 LAT by Charles Champlin, who concluded that “Ritchie’s film is an unexpectedly acute and sensitive story” and admired the way it reflected both the glamour and “shady opportunism” of the festival.
       Christian De Sica, son of Italian director Vittorio De Sica, made his American feature film debut in the role of “Carlo.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Apr 1979
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
6 May 1979
Calendar, p. 31.
New York Times
27 Apr 1979
p. 14.
New York Times
4 May 1979
Section C, p. 10.
Time
14 May 1979.
---
Variety
12 Jul 1978.
---
Variety
28 Feb 1979.
---
Variety
11 Apr 1979
p. 20.
Variety
24 Mar 1997
p. 14, 40.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Michael Ritchie Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Unit mgr
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stillman
Head grip
1st asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
French asst ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Propman
COSTUMES
Miss Vitti dressed by
Mr. Vallone's ward by
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Prod mixer
Boom man
Sd ed
Post prod mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting U.S.A.
Casting France
Asst to Michael Ritchie
Asst to Michael Ritchie
Asst to Michael Ritchie
Italian dial coach
Loc mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Cannes Game
Take Two
Release Date:
1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 27 April 1979
Production Date:
August--September 1978 in France
2d unit photog--May 1978 at Cannes Film Festival
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
7 January 1980
Copyright Number:
PA54756
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Deluxe® Laboratory
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25483
SYNOPSIS

Hal Raymond, a young filmmaker from California, arrives in France for the Cannes Film Festival where he hopes to sell his movie Choice of Ending, a story about murderer Gary Gilmore. Landing at the airport at the same time is Maria Barone and her husband, noted Italian film producer Federico “Freddie” Barone, who is there for the gala premiere of his latest production, The Pressed Flower. At customs, officials seize Hal’s film print, as well as Maria’s dog, Mortimer. Driving to Cannes in a rented jalopy, Hal struggles to negotiate the confusing road signs and collapses after checking into his modest accommodations. Meanwhile, Maria and Freddie pull up in a chauffeured car to the luxurious Hotel Carlton, one of the hubs of the festival. Unable to sleep that night, Hal drives in the predawn hours to a Cannes beach where he meets another jet-lagged American, Andrew Jackson, a filmmaker with a talent for marketing, who encourages Hal to change the title of his movie. At the customs agency, Lt. Montand informs Hal that his film must remain impounded until the censor views it, which might not happen for another month. Leaving the office in a fury, Hal encounters Maria who has just retrieved her dog from the ... +


Hal Raymond, a young filmmaker from California, arrives in France for the Cannes Film Festival where he hopes to sell his movie Choice of Ending, a story about murderer Gary Gilmore. Landing at the airport at the same time is Maria Barone and her husband, noted Italian film producer Federico “Freddie” Barone, who is there for the gala premiere of his latest production, The Pressed Flower. At customs, officials seize Hal’s film print, as well as Maria’s dog, Mortimer. Driving to Cannes in a rented jalopy, Hal struggles to negotiate the confusing road signs and collapses after checking into his modest accommodations. Meanwhile, Maria and Freddie pull up in a chauffeured car to the luxurious Hotel Carlton, one of the hubs of the festival. Unable to sleep that night, Hal drives in the predawn hours to a Cannes beach where he meets another jet-lagged American, Andrew Jackson, a filmmaker with a talent for marketing, who encourages Hal to change the title of his movie. At the customs agency, Lt. Montand informs Hal that his film must remain impounded until the censor views it, which might not happen for another month. Leaving the office in a fury, Hal encounters Maria who has just retrieved her dog from the authorities. During their introduction, she encourages him to fight for his film, which he says has consumed his life for two years. Later at the Carlton, Hal recognizes famous movie personalities like director Paul Mazursky, columnist Rona Barrett and actress Farrah Fawcett-Majors. In the hotel lobby, he thanks Maria for convincing him to stay in Cannes and invites her to lunch. Charmed by Hal, Maria suggests that her husband’s connections with the censor could assist with retrieving Hal's print. As soon as Hal clarifies that his film is not in competition at the festival, Freddie immediately agrees to help. As a gesture of thanks, Hal invites the Barones to a party in Nice that evening hosted by Andrew, but they both decline. At the party, Andrew is advising Hal about the wonders of product placement, when Maria unexpectedly arrives. Although she explains that she cannot stay long, she and Hal spend the evening dancing and getting to know each other. After the party, Maria returns with Hal to his hotel room, and they make love. In bed, Maria admits that this is her first affair during fourteen years of marriage, and she is relieved that Hal is also the old-fashioned type after he finally confesses that he has never cheated on his girlfriend until now. In the early morning, she nervously returns to her hotel room and joins Freddie in bed. Sometime later, Andrew meets Hal on the terrace of the Carlton to show him the poster and t-shirts he has created to promote Hal’s film under the new title, Shoot Me Before I Kill Again. While Andrew declares that this campaign has commercial appeal, Hal disagrees and is dumbfounded that Andrew took the initiative without even seeing the film. Their debate is interrupted when Maria summons Hal to the casino, requesting that he bring all of his cash. She explains that she is gambling on his behalf, so that he can afford a better hotel. After finally winning big at craps, Maria leads Hal to a romantic hotel along the harbor. At a restaurant nearby, he runs into Montand who informs him that the censor is available to screen his film, as soon as it can be scheduled. Later that afternoon, the lovers drive to the countryside for a picnic. During the sojourn, Maria assures Hal that she wants to be with him even after the festival is over. When Hal drives Maria back to the Carlton that evening, she says that she will make arrangements so that they can spend an entire night together. The next morning at breakfast, Maria asks Freddie if she can spend two days in Paris prior to the gala premiere, and he happily agrees that she should escape from the chaos of Cannes for a while. During their time together, Maria and Hal plan to attend the screening of his film, and afterward drive across the border to Italy for dinner. In front of a small audience, Hal nervously introduces his film and then waits outside the theatre. After the screening, Mortand emerges and confirms that he can bring the print into the country, followed by Andrew who describes the film as sensational. During the drive to Italy, Maria finally admits that she did not like the movie, which is difficult for her to say because she loves Hal. He is disappointed in her reaction and pulls to the side of road, as their conversation turns into an argument in which Maria dismisses Hal’s implication that films are more important than people. In a sudden realization, she states that he does not need her, and Hal agrees. Angry, he gets out of the car with his film cans and tries to hitchhike, while Maria takes the car and eventually returns to the Carlton. When Hal finally makes it back to Cannes, he attempts to track down Maria, who is making preparations for an afternoon party on a yacht before the evening premiere. From the hotel, Hal pursues her to a marina and confronts her as she boards a motorboat, but she refuses to listen. After joining her onboard, he confiscates the motorboat from the driver and takes off with Maria. In open water, the boat runs out of gas, leaving Hal and Maria stranded. As he confesses his love, she complains about missing Freddie’s premiere and calls Hal a “selfish fool” whose film means more to him than her love. Suddenly, he throws the film cans overboard to prove his commitment, but she reminds him that he still has the original 16mm negative back home, so the gesture means nothing. They finally reconcile and kiss after Maria makes Hal proclaim out loud that she is more important than his film. At dusk, Maria’s stepson Carlo arrives in a boat to pick her up, but leaves Hal behind to return with one of the assistants. On the boat ride back, Carlo informs her that the screening of The Pressed Flower was a triumph and that they plan to fly to Geneva tonight so as not to appear anxious about the possibility of winning the Palme D’Or prize. Maria remains conflicted about what to do. As soon as Hal reaches shore, he meets up with Andrew who drives him to the local airport where Freddie and his entourage are preparing to leave. When Maria arrives planeside, Freddie forgives her for missing the premiere, and she is grateful for his kindness. Before boarding the private jet for Geneva, Maria walks over to Hal and says goodbye, explaining that although she loves him, she needs someone who believes that she is “more important than anything.” After the jet takes off, Andrew informs Hal that he has included his film in a package deal and hands him a contract to sign. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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