...and drives Cornel wild", as the original tagline for this film went, and they put it on the front of the DVD so you can't ever forget it. It's a very silly line, but it's somehow quite fitting, as this is a very silly film. Its director, Nicholas Ray was turning out some truly great films during this period. His immediately previous film to this one is probably his best remembered of all and one of the most iconic of all 50s films: "Rebel Without a Cause". It is not readily apparent what drew him to follow it up with this bizarre piece, which is essentially rubbish, but he does make it awfully enjoyable and I would kind of defy anyone not to like it. You don't have to look too hard either to see that he is not taking it entirely seriously. Note especially the fortune-telling scene which culminates in a hilarious catfight!
The story itself, of gypsy dynasty, passion, arranged marriage, jealousy, etc, etc is so much of another long-gone era (as is a lot of its over-ripe dialogue) that you tend to be rather taken aback when cars appear in it and you realise that it is supposed to be taking place in the contemporary 20th century. Neither of the stars are remotely believable in their roles, but, again, what possible harm could that do to a tale like this anyway?? Cornel Wilde is a bit on the wooden side and makes a very unlikely dancer, especially as the camera quickly switches to a long-shot (or shows just the legs) whenever he starts to dance, so they can put in a double. Jane Russell fares rather better, perhaps because she was more attuned to the absurdity of the thing, and gets to do at least some of her own dancing. Though, of course, when she is dancing with Wilde in the long shots it could well be anyone. Russell's song in the middle of the film, which starts off with her singing out loud and continues in her mind commenting on what she is doing and feeling, is maybe the one really and truly marvellous sequence to be found in this. It's hypnotic, beguiling...wonderful!!
The DVD features a couple of black and white stills on the front and back of the case, which seems to have misled some careless person to have put on it that the film is in black and white. Rest assured, however, that it is in its original glorious Technicolor and the earlier extra-wide 2.55:1 CinemaScope too - which is correctly listed. Ray liked to use over-emphatic reds in his films for all kinds of effects, and there are certainly plenty of them here. Absolutely no extras at all, not even a trailer, but the film's well worth it at the low price you can get it for - and it's one that never seems to show up on TV!