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The Night Heaven Fell

Like Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot brewed on the fringe of popular consciousness for a while before exploding into unwonted fame. Though popular in France as a gamin, it took Bardot's alliance with husband Roger Vadim to propel her into superstardom. That happened in 1956 with ...And God Created Woman. French films were never the same. Nor was Bardot. Like Monroe, the rest of her life was a near open book of public romances and political activism. Bardot's Ursula in 1958's The Night Heaven Fell (Les bijoutiers du clair de lune, aka Gli Amanti del chiaro di luna, and Heaven Fell That Night) is a raw replay of the saucy girl that created Bardotlatry, and the second movie she made with Vadim, by now her ex-husband. Based on a Carmen-like novel by d'Albert Vidalie set in Spain, Bardot plays a girl just out of convent school, visiting her repressed aunt (Alida Valli) and her lecherous uncle. The free-spirited Ursula basically takes over the town, brazenly entering the bull ring in a polka-dot dress during a festival and inspiring love and lust in equal measure. Ursula falls in with the brooding town hunk Lamberto (Stephen Boyd, dubbed), and after Lamberto kills her uncle, the duo flee to the hills where they have a series of dull adventures until the tragic finale. In Eastmancolor and CinemaScope, The Night Heaven Fell is almost as ravishing as its star, at least in long shots of the Spanish countryside. Close-ups are a different story. There aren't enough of them, especially of BB. And though Bardot can be funny — like Monroe usually at her best going for comedy — the movie lacks wit or recognition of the material's ludicrousness. While an Almodovar or Bigas Luna would have had outrageous fun with the plot, Vadim is super-serious, awkwardly staging various fight scenes and sexual couplings, which for him visually amount to the same thing. The film ends up becoming a rather cumbersome vehicle in the usually light Bardot ontology. Home Vision Entertainment's DVD offers a new full-frame transfer with newly translated subtitles. Extras primarily consist of trailers for this and two other Bardot films from HVE (Plucking the Daisy and ...And God Created Woman), along with a detailed Bardot filmography, a six-page insert with essays by Chris Gore and Michael Frost, and a reproduction of the film's poster art and other images. Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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