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A Breath of Scandal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Breath of Scandal
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Curtiz
Vittorio De Sica (uncredited)
Screenplay byWalter Bernstein
Based onOlympia
by Ferenc Molnár
Produced by
CinematographyMario Montuori
Edited byHoward A. Smith
Music by
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • March 16, 1960 (1960-03-16) (Italy)
  • December 16, 1960 (1960-12-16) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes
  • United States
  • Italy

A Breath of Scandal (released as Olympia in Italy) is a 1960 American/Italian international co-production romantic comedy-drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, based on the stage play Olympia by Ferenc Molnár. It stars Sophia Loren, Maurice Chevalier, and John Gavin, with Angela Lansbury, Milly Vitale, Roberto Risso, Isabel Jeans, and Tullio Carminati. The film is set at the turn of the 20th century and features lush technicolor photography of Vienna and the countryside of Austria. The costumes and lighting were designed by George Hoyningen-Huene and executed by Ella Bei of the Knize fashion house (Austria). In part because Loren was at odds with Curtiz's direction, Italian director Vittorio De Sica was hired to reshoot certain scenes with Loren after hours without Curtiz's knowledge.

The film is based on the 1928 play Olympia rather than being a remake of the 1929 MGM film His Glorious Night.[1]

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In 1907, a widowed Princess Olympia of the Austro-Hungarian Empire has been banished from the Imperial Court to her late husband's country estate. The bored Princess spends her time improving her rifle marksmanship by using flowers, statues and the postman as her targets. When she tires of that, being an expert equestrienner as well as an expert markswoman, she rides a wild stallion to her hunting lodge. On the way she is thrown from her mount by the appearance of an automobile driven by a visiting American mining engineer Charlie Foster. She feigns injury to get to know Charlie better as she keeps her royal heritage a secret from him, for Charlie believes her a peasant. Treating her with his first aid expertise, Charlie gives her his own pyjamas but mistakenly gives her a sleeping pill with a glass of wine that sends Olympia into a deep sleep.

Waking in Charlie's pyjama top, but not the bottom, Olympia fears the worst has happened and flees back home where news as arrived that she is able to return to the Imperial Court in Vienna. Olympia is greeted by the news by her mother that she is to be married to Prince Ruprecht of Prussia. She is also reunited with Charlie who has come to see her father Prince Philip about mining and refining bauxite in the Empire. Her rival Countess Lina is determined to ruin Princess Olympia's life by informing the Imperial Chamberlain Count Sandor of Olympia's scandalous conduct with the American.



The film was part of a three-picture deal, which Loren had, under contract with Paramount. It was also a co-production between Paramount and producers Ponti and Girosi. Filming started on June 1, 1959, in Vienna.[2]

John Gavin, who had been borrowed from Universal-International, later recalled, "we were being directed by Michael Curtiz, which sounds so good on paper." Apparently, he soon realized the director was past it.

I said to Sophia [during the shoot], "We're in a terrible picture. He may have been a great director once but he doesn't know what he's doing."

According to Gavin, Loren had looked worried and asked, "Do you really think so?"

Gavin said, "The next thing I know Vittorio De Sica is turning up on set, at 2:00am every morning to give Sophia a few hours coaching before shooting started. Imagine! Drama classes at that hour! Still, I wouldn't have minded a little help myself. So I asked him and he said 'Don't change a thing. Everything you do is so American.' That sort of left me up in the air without a compass."[3]


Gavin later called the film a "turkey" saying Loren playing a princess was "not what she does best."[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Olympia as produced on Broadway" October 16, 1928 to November 1928, 39 performances, Empire Theatre;
  2. ^ "ROLE IN 'OLYMPIA' FOR SOPHIA LOREN: She Will Star With Gavin in Movie of Molnar Play -Maureen O'Hara Signs". New York Times. April 7, 1959. p. 39.
  3. ^ a b Tom Donnelly (July 28, 1974). "John Gavin: One for the 'Seesaw': John Gavin: One for the 'Seesaw'". The Washington Post. p. L1.

External links

This page was last edited on 26 October 2023, at 15:54
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