The Black Orchid (1958)

Sophia Loren, Anthony Quinn, Peter Mark Richman, Virginia Vincent,
The Black Orchid is a movie starring Sophia Loren, Anthony Quinn, and Peter Mark Richman. Anthony Quinn and Sophia Loren star as longtime widower Frank and recently widowed Rose, lonely hearts who discover something special in The...
  • 6.4 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Joseph Stefano, Writer:
  • Martin Ritt, Director:
  • Marcello Girosi, Carlo Ponti, Producer:
6 / 10

Remarkable and intelligent account about a mature couple , being well directed and wonderfully performed

Patchy weeper with terrific and enjoyable performances , in which a businessman Frank Valente (Anthony Quinn) romancing criminal's widow named Rose Bianco (Sophia Loren) and the principal problem results in convincing their children that marriage will make all their lives better . As the Italian Frank wooing a mobster's widow that leads to unexpected consequences . Both of whom are strongly involved with their sons , as Frank has to convince his sternly moralising daughter (Ina Balin) about marry herself to Noble (Peter Mark Richman) , while Rose must convince her little boy Ralph (Jimmy Baird) who usually is locked at remand home like in N.Y. State Farm .

This is a plain and simple film with plenty of interesting drama , Soap opera , emotion and a sensitive as well as unexpectedly tender romance . Filmmaker Martin Ritt has got a considerable success in delineating their troublesome roles in this fabricated Soaper . Various character-studios furnish the basis for this agreeable drama and it results to be a superb piece of acting . Excellent interpretation by protagonist duo , as Anthony Quinn as the bungling businessman romancing a moll's beautiful widow , this was the first of Anthony's European roles leading to his hit five years later in ¨Zorba the Greek¨ . And Sophia Loren playing magnificently the mature but attractive crook's widow , though she was 23 years old during filming, only 10 years older than the actor playing her juvenile son . The picture also established Loren's claim as a player of some worth and paved the way for her Acadeny Award-winning success three years later in ¨Two women¨ and her triumph in ¨The Cid¨ . It is a mostly staged drama in which the two main actors spend the majority of the movie attempting to persuade their children that all will be better if they marry and it can work out . Nice screenplay by Joseph Stefano dealing with sensitive themes such as the disintegration of a family , an enticing love story , rebellious childhood and including engaging dialogs . Evocative cinematography in VistaVision by Robert Burks , he's a classic cameraman and Hitchcock's usual . The music is sparse, but it's potent and lively every time it appears , it was composed by Alessandro Cicognini .

This understatement motion picture was well produced by Carlo Ponti , Sophia Loren's husband , and professionally directed by Martin Ritt, who worked with Paul Newman in three Westerns : ¨Hombre¨ , ¨Hud¨ and ¨Outrage¨. Ritt was an expert on dramas such as ¨Stanley and Iris¨ , ¨Nut¨ , ¨Norma Rae¨ , ¨The front¨, ¨The Sound and the Fury¨ , though also directed films of all kind of genres such as : ¨The Spy Who Came in from the Cold¨ , ¨The Great White Hope¨ , ¨Mafia¨ and ¨Molly McGuire¨ . This ¨Black orchid¨ film will appeal to drama enthusiasts and Anthony Quinn/Sophia Loren fans . Rating : Above average, well worth watching ; along with ¨Hud¨ ,and ¨Outrage¨ being one of Ritt's best movie.

7 / 10

Quinn and Loren Shine in Melodramatic Soap Opera

An early effort by director Martin Ritt, "The Black Orchid" is an unconvincing melodrama about the romance between a widow and a widower. Each has a child that complicates the situation, although the widower's daughter provides most of the roadblocks to the couple's happiness. Filmed in black and white by Hitchcock favorite Robert Burks, the story is predictable and often frustrating and annoying. The widower's daughter, played by Ina Balin, evidently suffers from mental illness, although professional help is not sought. She locks herself in her room to protest her father's involvement with the widow, she walks out on her fiancé after he refuses impossible living arrangements, and she is obsessed with maintaining her hold on her father and his life. The character is unsympathetic, and most fathers would have put her on an analyst's couch, while most fiancés would have seen what the future held and walked out.

However, the film cannot be completely dismissed, because the widow is played by Sophia Loren at her most beautiful, despite a nearly all-black wardrobe, and the widower is played by Anthony Quinn, who is wonderfully appealing in a rugged lovable way. Physically and emotionally, Loren and Quinn make a fine pair, and their performances rise above the problematic material. Quinn particularly has a difficult time making his character believable. That such an imposing forceful man would allow his daughter to ruin his life is hard to swallow, especially when the happiness of the widow, her son, and his daughter's fiancé also hang in the balance. Loren is on firmer ground in a role that takes the actress from mourning a dead husband to the joy of newfound romance. Her strong performance foreshadows her later work in "Marriage Italian Style." Loren's famous eyes are on full display, and the actress seems wise and earthy beyond her years. Perhaps Quinn's performance was not acting, because who could fail to fall for Sophia.

The movie moves back and forth between sets and locations. Although the sets are well designed, their stagy nature is jarring when the action moves outdoors. Few actors stand out beyond the leads, except for a matchmaking neighbor amusingly played by Naomi Stevens. The screenplay by Joseph Stefano, better known for "Psycho," borders on soap opera and seems conceived for the stage. Like a well-oiled episode of "As the World Turns," "The Black Orchid" moves slowly to a predictable, if unconvincing, conclusion that extols the power of sausage, which is perhaps a symbolic key to the daughter's emotional problems. However, despite its flaws, the magnificent stars ultimately redeem the film and save it from the dustbin of Hollywood history. Unfortunately, Loren and Quinn no longer grace the screen, but fortunately their shadows linger and enhance even otherwise lackluster films such as this one.

9 / 10

This one has ACTING.....

I liked "The Black Orchid", as it's a film that works well because the script is very good and the acting really carries it off well. Too many films feature everything but fine acting--so this one is a great lesson to aspiring actors and folks who want to learn to appreciate more than explosions and the like.

The film begins with the death of a gangster. He's left a mixed up son and a beautiful but mixed up wife (Sophia Loren). Because of some sense of guilt for pushing her husband to succeed, he chose organized crime--and now she feels responsible for killing him. Her penance is to shut herself away from the world and be miserable. However, a gregarious widower (Anthony Quinn) is determined to break through this wall. He figures that they both are lonely and they should make a go of it.

When it comes to Loren's change from closed and unhappy to falling in love with Quinn, this is probably the weakest point in the film. It happens very quickly--as if some period of time is missing. However, considering that their being in love and wanting to get married is NOT the main point of the film, this can be forgiven.

The hiccup in this relationship is, surprisingly, not from Loren's son. While he is in reform school, he likes the idea of the marriage. The problem is Quinn's adult daughter. She has an almost incestuous bond with her father and she is determined to do anything to prevent him from remarrying--even if it means her losing her own chance for marriage. While this may seem a bit unrealistic, as a family therapist, such reactions from daughters to the prospect of their widowed fathers remarrying isn't that unusual--and is the great basis of a film.

All this works together very well due to the acting. Quinn is simply great--very likable and decent. As for Loren, it's one of her earliest English language films--and she is exceptional. In particular, I loved her body language and expressions. As for the rest, the ensemble cast is uniformly good. While this is not an exciting film, it is very well done and deserves to be seen. A sweet and worthwhile romance that will probably leave you feeling a bit misty-eyed.

10 / 10

A well told story of love, adversity and second chances.

Sophia Loren won the Venice Film Festival best actress award for her portrayal of Rose Bianco (White Rose) in The Black Orchid. The remainder of the cast are equally impressive (with a special nod to Anthony Quinn) in this engrossing drama. Pop some corn, turn the phone off and enjoy.

7 / 10

the relationship of a Woman and a Man, both widows

Martin Ritt was a very good director, but this film is not his best. Probably because the film was one of those he directed after being accused of being communist during the McCarthy's hunt. Two stars like Sophia Loren and Anthony Quinn together again for the second time (They were acting together in "Attila" 1954) made the film a good entertainment with a very happy end. Quinn's daughter is too egoist with his father because she does not want to share him with any other woman, and once noticed the new relationship with Sophia, a widow of a presumably maffia man, who also has a son sitting in farm school for children with problems of behavior. Sophia solved the problem Quinn had with his daughter (too simple way of solution) and Quinn was able to get the sympathy of her son and to take him back with them. I wish life could be like it was shown here, it was so simple and easy.