The Comedians - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Comedians Reviews

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½ February 9, 2017
Very strong cast in screen adaptation of the Graham Green novel.
November 28, 2016
Odd but well done film.
February 21, 2016
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor vehicle based around a Graham Greene novel, which the author adapted himself, though this one is a far cry from "The Third Man" or "The Fallen Idol." The story revolves around Burton romancing a diplomat's wife, Taylor, in a Papa Doc led Haiti that's ruled by terror. It's actually a setting that seems ripe for a Green story of political intrigue and personal character dynamics, but the characters are not compelling and the story has a dull pace, but the film's terrific cast (Alec Guinness, Peter Ustinov, Lillian Gish, Georg Stanford Brown, Roscoe Lee Browne, Gloria Foster, James Earl Jones, Zakes Mokae, Cicely Tyson, Raymond St. Jacques) manage to keep it watchable. There's also a fine score by Laurence Rosenthal that also help with the atmosphere. Overall, the film is worth checking out for fans of Liz and Dick, but don't watch the film if you're looking for a fine Graham Greene tale.
½ February 2, 2016
I had to watch it for the cast. It was not the best plot, but I was fascinated by Haiti and the history. Not bad, but it could have been much better.
½ April 29, 2013
The powerful study of a small group of people caught up in "Papa Doc's" reign of fear--Burton and Guinness Head the Intrigue in Graham Greene's Haiti!!
½ February 18, 2013
Strangely inert adaptation of Graham Greene's novel about white Westerners being menaced by Papa Doc Duvalier's Ton Tons Macoute. Burton, Guinness, Ustinov and a young James Earl Jones are all in top form, but Taylor is awful and Peter Glenville's direction is flabby and dull. A missed opportunity.
August 15, 2012
Fascinating but endlessly talky tale about a group of privileged classed people in Haiti in the mid-60s who slowly begin to realize that the power to defeat Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier lies in the hands of the people. A pretty good 148 minute film that would've made a knockout of a 90 minute film. Excellent cast.
½ April 9, 2012
An extremely talented cast are sabotaged by the long winded screenplay and unimaginative direction. Paul Ford does stand out as the bright spot playing a Presidential candidate for which he actually received award consideration!
March 21, 2012
foreign intrigue surrounds the residents of a hotel in haiti.
November 7, 2011
As much as I love Elizabeth Taylor, this movie was almost unbearable to watch. Three long and kind of painful hours about some events on Haiti with only couple scenes with Taylor that I really enjoyed. Apart from that the story isn't interesting. Not because it's a political story but because it's shown in tiresome manner. Villains in black glasses were annoying but I have to admit they fited to the role perfectly. The ending was slightly better. Moreover, I don't think it was a good idea for Graham Greene to write the script as well - based on his own book.
August 7, 2011
Much better the second time around. A film with a lot of depth that you have to see more than once. It has some problems but it's a very good film.
½ April 14, 2011
A great insight into the world of Haiti. One can understand from seeing this film the repression and dictatorial political control that makes it the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The movie is a bit plodding, but has great supporting actors. Don't be thrown off by the name, it is anything but a comedy. You can always trust Graham Greene to show sides of our modern world we in the insulated U.S. don't see on our TV screens.
½ March 28, 2011
The setting is interesting, the characters, not so much.
½ January 18, 2011
With Papa Doc's Haiti as picturesque backdrop this could have been a terrific drama, but in spite of a dynamite cast the result is - alas - extremely boring.
½ November 6, 2010
The greatest screen couple of all time was undoubtedly Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. In the sixties their parings were no mere vehicles, but great projects indeed. By 1967 they had been pared 6 times already, in movies such as "Cleopatra", "The Sandpiper" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf". But "The Comedians" is not a proper example, because it's a Burton film, he is the driving force throughout and from whose perspective the movie is told, and Taylor is just thrown in the mixture, probably for publicity value. The last film of the short movie career of stage actor and director Peter Glenville, "The Comedians" is written by Graham Greene, based on his own novel. It follows the political instability in Haiti, where the strict regime slowly closes in on the foreigners and all opposer, through violence and vudoo superstition. A boat arrives in Haiti bearing the main characters. Burton is a hotel owner coming back after a stay in New York. He knows Haiti well, and quickly notices things have changed. He is having an affair with ambassador Peter Ustinov's (a shy performance by the master) wife (Taylor). Along with him come Alec Guiness, an old army man who may not be what he appears (in a magnificent performance, the best in the picture), and Paul Ford, a former american politician and his wife, the great Lillian Gish, who seek to invest in the country and make a living there. Quickly they plunge into the realm of chaos and fear the country has become for foreigners. There are assassinations of friends and opposers to the regime, there is persecution and a constant climate of fear. Yet, what appears to be an interesting political movie falls a little short. Probably because the movie is tackled as a book. Burton interacts with one character and then another, and then on to another, in sometimes lengthy scenes, as if they are parading in front of him in turn. Off course that there are ensemble scenes, but most of the time a character disappears until Burton deals with other things, and then, when is convenient for the movie, returns. There are many directions the plot shoots out into, from the rebel underground, to the comings and goings of the crooked police inspectors, to vudoo superstition, to the interactions and clashes of the main characters, in a growing claustrophobic environment. The worse is Taylor, who appears every now and then in a cyclic dialog of "I love you, do you love me?, I cannot leave my husband, I have to think of my son, but I love you, etc, etc", in scenes clearly made to capitalize on their undeniable chemistry. Also, her german accent appears and disappears, I don't know with what criteria. When the situation becomes unbearable, some die, some flee the country and some end up joining the resistance. But there are no heroics, everything is slow, in a movie with strong dialog and performances, but unbalanced action. There are powerful scenes, yes, but all of a sudden you lose 10 minutes with another Taylor-Burton and the rhythm is lost. The end is also too abrupt, and leaves one wondering why it ended so. Maybe because the movie had already reached the 2 and a half hour mark. They should have eliminated one or two characters (Taylor included) that give the emotional side an extra but dispensable kick, and stuck with the political aspects and the powerful ride of emotions Burton displays. That way the movie would have been shorter, with a faster pace, more interesting, and would leave time to explore the end further. Nevertheless an interesting political movie, with powerful performances by great actors (also James Earl Jones), but whose attempt to capitalize on the Taylor-Burton phenomena was its downfall. And Alec Guiness is greatness itself on everything he touches. For his scenes, it is worth it.
March 30, 2010
One of Dick and Liz's best films - great background to the Haiti situation - passionate insane love in a passionate insane country
½ September 16, 2008
It's probably not fair since I didn't watch the whole thing, but I got really bored with this movie. Alec Guinness played the only character I thought was remotely interesting, and there was much to little of him. Maybe I will check out the book.
Super Reviewer
September 8, 2008
nominated for best picture by NBR
Super Reviewer
July 7, 2008
A bit confused and could have been cut into a tighter whole but an interesting document of a time and place that hasn't gotten a lot of treatment certainly not with a cast of this caliber. Leads are fine but the supporting cast of Guinness, Gish, Ford and Ustinov wrap it up.
½ June 16, 2008
The book easily warrants 5 stars, but in the film, the title's meaning ?? about the masks we wear - is so muted that it's completely lost. James Earl Jones, Alec Guinness, and Peter Ustinov are perfect as Dr. Magiot, the con man Jones, and the Ambassador, respectively, but I question the others. Perhaps comparing the film to the novel is like comparing apples to oranges, but the real predicament is that in 1967, Africans were regarded as inferior (true today but not quite so openly). The special feature, a promo called "The Comedians in Africa" casts light. Talking about Dahomey (now Benin) where the film was shot, the narrator states that "into this nation, so ill-equipped to receive them, came the most glamorous people in the world: Elizabeth Taylor the world's symbol of ultimate beauty ... to star in a story that deals strongly with *this* kind of primitive people." The visual cuts away at the word "this" to shots of the locals, including some children playing on the beach. These images are accompanied by the kind of music you'd hear on the Discovery Channel with a bunch of otters frolicking in the background. My point is that the movie is more a reflection of the time in which it was made than of its source. I'd love to see a remake.
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