Based upon a classic Feydeau farce -- and more specifically, upon a 1950s stage revival of that farce -- Hotel Paradiso should be much funnier than it is. After all, Feydeau was a master of the farce, creating situations that should generate plenty of mirth. Paradiso also has the added bonus of starring Alec Guinness, one of the 20th century's most accomplished actors and a man whose talents should meld easily with Feydeau, and of featuring as well Robert Morley, who certainly knows his way around comedy. So why isn't Paradiso more amusing? Chief blame rests with director and co-writer Peter Glenville, who doesn't seem to have realized that stage farce and cinema farce are two different animals entirely. Stage farce is artifice raised to an extreme, and artifice is hard to translate to the camera. In adapting such works to film, a way must be found to make the falseness acceptable or else to abolish the falseness and replace it with an acceptable cinematic reality. Glenville isn't able to accomplish either satisfactorily, although he tries a little of both. As a result, all of the running and hiding and jumping into and out of disguises comes across as forced, despite the very fine work from Morley, the welcome contributions of Peggy Mount and Akim Tamiroff and the truly expert work of Guinness. Matters are not helped by Gina Lollobrigida's performance; the actress is game and she has some good moments, but she simply isn't up to the level that this project demands. There are some individual hilarious moments in Paradiso, but it lacks consistency.
by Craig Butler review