Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Yellow Rolls-Royce

(UK, 1964)

Actually a trilogy, with the car being the connecting element that ties the three stories together. The car is a 1930 Phantom II, and lovely to look at, but I would not want to drive it. Believe it or not, it had a 25 horsepower straight-6 engine. Hell, there are riding lawnmowers with more horsepower than that! Wiki says it could go from zero to 100 KPH (about 60 MPH) in 12.5 seconds. Maybe that was fast for 1930, I don’t know. I know our PT Cruiser would leave it in the dust.

Rex Harrison, a fabulously wealthy Lord, buys the car new for his beloved wife, Jeanne Moreau. She promptly cuckolds him on the back seat with her lover, and he catches them at it. He can no longer stand to look at the car, and sends it back to the dealer.

We are told that a Maharajah lost the car gambling at a casino, and it is next bought by gangster George C. Scott, playing it mostly for laughs, for his former hat-check girl fiancée, Shirley MacLaine. He is a typical crass asshole, and she is bored out of her mind. While he is back in the States rubbing out a rival she falls in love with an Italian hustler (played by Frenchman Alain Delon, and how does that make sense?). She has to tearfully give him up when she realizes Scott will rub him out if he even suspects. Art Carney is good as Scott’s right-hand man.

Next the car goes to Ingrid Bergman, a wealthy American widow (with a Swedish accent), in 1941, while the Nazis are invading Yugoslavia. She meets a partisan fighter (played by Egyptian Omar Sharif), and sneaks him across a border. They fall in love, naturally. I lost contact with this story when the woman suddenly transforms herself from a self-involved, oblivious rich bitch to Florence Nightingale. I just didn’t buy it.

The chief attraction of this movie is the terrific scenery. Much of it was shot on location. As in all Technicolor movies of this time, the indoor scenes are bathed in so much shadowless light that you might want to wear a pair of sunglasses when viewing it. One of the least appreciated technical advances since the ‘50s is the development of color film stocks that didn’t need the equivalent of high noon in the desert to show a scene.