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Critic Reviews for Utopia
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Audience Reviews for Utopia
This French/Italian co-production movie - also known as Atoll K in Europe, and as Robinson Crusoeland in the United Kingdom... took almost 3 years to be seen in United States. Starring the comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in their final screen appearance, had lots of things lacking, especially laughs. The film co-stars French singer/actress Suzy Delair and was directed by Léo Joannon, with uncredited co-direction by blacklisted U.S. director John Berry (Berry was named as a communist by fellow director Edward Dmytryk, a Hollywood Ten member who had been jailed for contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with HUAC, and unable to secure work, Berry left the U.S. and resettled with his family in Paris). [img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/08/Atoll_K.jpg[/img] In the late 1940s, Laurel and Hardy were without film employment. Earlier in the decade, they ended their long association with producer Hal Roach and signed to make a series of films at both 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In post-World War II Europe, Laurel and Hardy were enjoying a new popularity with audiences that had been unable to see their movies during wartime. As a result of this, the pair received an offer from a French-Italian cinematic consortium to star in a film to be produced in France for $1.5 million, a large budget for the era. The story of Stan, who learns that he is to receive an inheritance left by a wealthy uncle was an engaging one. It was a type of a sociological study... and reality when, unfortunately, most of the inheritance is consumed by taxes and legal fees. At the end he is left with only a rickety but fully provisioned yacht and a private island in the Pacific Ocean. Stan and Ollie leave for the island, accompanied by Antione, stateless refugee (Max Elloy) and Giovanni Copini, a stowaway (a malcontent Italian bricklayer) (Adriano Rimoldi). The movie had its problems. The production was riddled with troubles and was extended abnormally. Ida Laurel, Stan Laurel's widow, told biographer John McCabe, "I'm hardly likely to forget the date we left for France and the date we returned - April 1, 1950, and April 1, 1951. But there was no April Fooling about that terrible year. That bloody picture was supposed to take twelve weeks to make, and it took twelve months." And it was obvious that the quality suffered because of that, Still, it is an important part of the film history and that is the reason I wanted to see it. Over the years, the prints of three of the four versions have degraded. No U.S. copyright was filed for Utopia and the version lapsed into the public domain, resulting in duplicated prints of poor quality used for distribution. Until recently, the only known print of the original 98-minute English version was in private hands and this version has never been released on video. However, on January 1, 2012, the French/German TV station ARTE aired a restored 100-minute English version of the film, claiming an international television premiere. The restored copy is based on a copy rediscovered in 2010 in the United States. It was released to DVD by Fun Factory Films on January 3, 2013, and I am glad I had to chance to see it.
Probably not the best film of Laurel & Hardy?s to start on, but I?ve seen enough sketches to know that there are much better films of theirs to come. A Robinson Cruesoe style storyline with perhaps not as many laughs as I?d hoped for.
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