Top critical review
FULL OF MISTAKES!!! Knowledgeable film and Ava fans will be disappointed
Reviewed in the United States on July 22, 2019
I really wanted to enjoy this, cos it was my birthday and I wanted to veg out. Plus I'm a huge Ava Gardner fan, having seen her movies, many times on TV, since I was a kid.
First, they stated Ava Gardner started at MGM when television was competing with the movies. NO WAY. Not unless you think she started in the 1950s, a decade after she began!
I saw Pandora and the Flying Dutchman on TV, as a child. It's an amazing film! But obscure! How anyone can say it's one of best known? Although I frankly can't remember what that Frenchman said about that film because I was so stunned at the inaccuracy. It's a shame it's rarely shown and not one that fans remember.
As another person stated, Mogambo is a remake of RED DUST, not China Seas! I almost fell outta my seat when he said that! It took place in French Indochina at a rubber plantation. Most likely Vietnam, because the French were in charge before America got involved in the 1960s-70s war. Vietnam was the location of huge rubber plantations. Cambodia and Laos were controlled by the French, Vietnam was the major location of rubber plantations. Not China. Not on the sea!
The plots of Mogambo/Red Dust vs China Seas are not similar! Watch them all and enjoy them and see for yourself.
There were other films never mentioned, like Bhowani Junction, Naked Maja, 55 Days at Peking (although I think there was some kind of still from it?), Mayerling where she played Omar Sharif's mother, although she was only 10 years older than he. Did they mention Earthquake? There was SO much more they could have talked about.
Did they mention Showboat? Lots of stories about Showboat! From MGM dubbing her voice to wearing the body makeup usually used on her pal, the great Lena Horne, who wanted the role.
I believe they mentioned her friendship with Hemingway. BUT NO mention she starred in a film based on his first novel! I kept waiting for them to mention "The Sun Also Rises." Wow.
I saw the doc a couple days ago and it's a blank, cos it was so lightweight. Yet that same afternoon, I saw a FAB doc on Rosalind Russell. I could detail what was covered in that doc.
I didn't write down the goofs, so that's why I'm vague about details. BUT I did notice them at the time! Did the writer or narrator ever read her autobiography? Or any book about her or her era who knew her or knew film history? I doubt it.
I guess it's better than nothing .... but I'm not so sure.
Want to learn about Ava? Watch any number of her films instead. She was a great beauty, had more talent than she realized, and always lit up the screen. You'll learn more about her from watching her act than this sad documentary.
I have her autobio, but yet to read it. But I've read tons on Ava Gardner, MGM, and seen most of her films countless times. I hate to be so picky. But this documentary did not serve Ava Gardner nor its intended audience well.
She was a woman of great depth, intrigue, beauty, talent and worthy of better coverage for a life lived truly on her terms.