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  Follow Me To Pull Topol
Year: 1972
Director: Carol Reed
Stars: Mia Farrow, Topol, Michael Jayston, Margaret Rawlings, Annette Crosby, Dudley Foster, Michael Aldridge, Michael Barrington, Neil McCarthy
Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Charles (Michael Jayston) is a prime mover in the world of international finance, a fixer who is much sought after to handle various cases, but if there's one thing he seems to have no control over, to his chagrin, it is his wife, Belinda (Mia Farrow). They have not been married too long, yet it seems like an eternity since they could say they were truly in love as they have drifted apart in the meantime, to the extent that she heads off on her own for long passages of time - or is she on her own? Charles begins to suspect she is seeing someone else, may even be cuckolding him, and the thought of it is eating him up inside, leading him to hiring a private detective to find out for certain...

Follow Me was based on the Peter Shaffer play, one of two which complemented each other (The Public Eye and The Private Ear were their titles) and were quite the production to see in the early nineteen-sixties. The first was in the planning stages for around a decade until British director Carol Reed decided to hop aboard, and after the likes of Julie Andrews, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were discarded along the way, a collection of stars somewhat less blessed with their wattage were hired to bring it to life. Farrow was the biggest celebrity of the trio, but on stage Topol was enjoying huge success which had translated to his big screen success in Fiddler on the Roof.

That had been the year previous to this one, and it appeared producers were unable to make up their minds what to do with him, after all there are only so many larger than life roles that can suit a leading man, and few would go to him. Therefore this film was designed to play up his eccentric side, so that he could still be, yes, larger than life, but in a setting that was full of exaggerated scenarios in a romantic style, and many (well, some) have responded to this down the years, those looking out for a love story that does not necessarily follow the accustomed path of such things. Therefore you could legitimately call this a cult movie, even if not every viewer agreed.

The naysayers would point out how cloyingly precious it was, placing three adult characters in situations that would be more appropriate for teenagers, hard to take when both Topol and Jayston were pushing forty. Farrow remained more or less her usual self, fluttering her eyelashes, smiling nervously and stumbling over her words in her accustomed fashion which by 1972 was growing overfamiliar to audiences and could credit her gradual decline to them regarding her as a one trick pony. The plot had Topol as Julian Cristoforou who once a prolonged stretch of not getting to the point with Charles is over, reveals himself to be the actual detective replacing the one Charles hired, though it doesn't take any kind of sleuth to recognise the man for what he is: essentially, the fairy godmother.

Cristoforou has been following Belinda, and after we get a detailed breakdown of her marriage from her husband, highlighting the way that their differences in class and origin saw her struggling to get along with his friends and indeed with him, we find out what she has been doing for all that time away. Look, to find this an acceptable ninety minutes you're going to have to take it on board as a kind of fairy tale, not one with any magic or fairy dust, but one where people act in a twee manner that you would have a hard time believing anyone in real life would act in that way. As long as you can swallow that this was a highly artificial construct, and had no problem with that, you would join this picture's cult following. And even if you did not, the scenes and shots of London were both touristy and nostalgic, a valuable record of how the capital used to look as the Swinging Sixties turned to the Me Decade, all lovingly captured by Reed's camera, a director who, whatever faults he may have had, always had a superb sense of place and location. The music by John Barry was as lush as he ever wrote, even if his title song was a little weak.

[Network have released this long out of circulation title on DVD and Blu-ray as part of their The British Film line.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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