A Breath of Scandal is a curiously sodden affair. That's always lamentable, but especially so when discussing the kind of entertainment that is intended to be fluffy and lighter than air. This kind of whimsical, delicate material has to be treated with exactly the perfect touch; otherwise, the whole enterprise sinks, and that's the case here. Is the fault with Michael Curtiz, whose direction is very far from his considerable best here? Certainly Curtiz seems surprisingly at sea here. The dynamics of scenes are curiously skewed, the all-important atmosphere is scattershot, the airiness that is so crucial is instead leaden. But the casting is also to blame. Sophia Loren is heavenly to look at. Her beauty is radiant and she is clothed in outfits that accentuate every minute asset that she has to offer. But she doesn't seem to understand the character she plays and offers an unfortunately dull interpretation. Even worse is John Gavin, handsome as can be but wooden from top to bottom. Maurice Chevalier and Isabel Jeans try hard, and they do have some very good moments, but those moments are isolated instances. Only Angela Lansbury really delivers the necessary goods from start to finish. The film does look impressive, with sumptuous costumes and gorgeous cinematography that captures some stunning settings. But it's not enough.
by Craig Butler review