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THE NIGHT HEAVEN FELL

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Brigitte Bardot, Stephen Boyd, Alida Valli, Pepe Nieto
Director:  Roger Vadim
Audio:  Dolby Mono
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Home Vision Entertainment
Features:  Theatrical Trailers
Length:  93 Minutes
Release Date:  September 25, 2001

Film *1/2

God may have created woman, but Roger Vadim and Brigitte Bardot created the stir.  After the husband directed the wife in what became a titillating landmark movie, the two creative talents joined forces again for another attempt to recapture the magic.

The Night Heaven Fell boasted a good cast, including American Stephen Boyd of  Ben-Hur and Italian Alida Valli of The Third Man.  A cast, however, is usually only as good as the material it has to work with.  Night is a film that is visually colorful, but dramatically gray.

Bardot plays Ursula, a young woman fresh out of a convent who comes to stay with her aunt (Valli) and uncle.  With a few broad stokes, we are given a plot:  there is animosity between local stud Lamberto (Boyd) and the uncle over the suicide of Lambertoís sister.  They fight, and Ursula begins to fall in love with the handsome stranger, while at the same time evading the lecherous comings-on of the uncle.

The triangle is complex:  the aunt loves Lamberto too, and when he kills the uncle in self defense, he believes she will provide him an alibi.  She does not, and soon Ursula rescues him from the clutches of the law and joins him as a fugitive.

The meandering storyline never really draws interestÖthe characters are flatly drawn, and frankly, we donít have enough background to really appreciate their ideals and motivations.  All that really matters is that Ursula loves Lumberto enough to allow Bardot to bare her breasts, which is the filmís real attraction.

Both Vadim and Bardot would go on to make better and more memorable films.  The Night Heaven Fell simply doesnít have enough going for it to be considered one of them.  Itís too bland to be romantic, too rigid to be sexy, and too broadly drawn to be engrossing.

Video **

This anamorphic transfer comes from a Technicolor print that shows its age a little bit.  As a result, flesh tones actually look more natural, but other colors, especially reds and greens, always seem a click or two below what their normal hue would be.  The print suffers from some grain, dirt, and splotches here and there, which causes some flicker and inconsistency in the images.  Detail is generally sharp and good, however.

Audio **

This is a standard monaural offering:  perfectly suited to the film, but unremarkable.

Features *

The disc includes trailers for And God Created Woman (dubbed), plus Plucking the Daisy and The Night Heaven Fell, which are neither dubbed nor subtitled.

Summary:

Brigitte Bardotís charm and effervescence canít quite rescue The Night Heaven Fell from its shallow mire.  This is one for the actresses most devoted admirers only.