© 1958 Wheel Productions

Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

Director: Otto Preminger
Starring: Deborah Kerr
David Niven
Jean Seberg
Cinematographer: Georges Périnal
Composer: Georges Auric
Costume design: Hope Bryce
Year: 1958

I probably would have never seen this film if I had not been on a Otto Preminger kick lately, although like practically everyone else in the world I loved Jean Seberg in À Bout de Souffle, as well as the under-seen Peter Sellers vehicle The Mouse That Roared.

Seberg plays Cecile, a 17-year-old French girl who spends summers in a villa on the French Riviera with her playboy father Raymond (David Niven). Raymond is a inveterate womanizer, and his latest conquest is Elsa, who is closer to his daughter’s age then his own. As Cecile lost her mother when she was very young, this is the only life either she or her father knows. It is slightly creepy to see Niven kiss Seberg, who is playing his daughter, full on the mouth every time he sees her. Cecile acts pretty childish although the summer, until one of her pranks, designed to win back some of her father’s attention, backfires with serious consequences. Although neither Niven or Seberg seem especially French, they are perfectly cast, especially Seberg, who looks striking in each and every frame she appears in, and looks quite a lot like Francoise Sagan, who created a literary sensation when she published the novel this film is based on at the age of 18.

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