Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 2. March 20, 1957
Anastasia is the story of a beautiful young woman who appeared in Paris in the 1920's, and was claimed to be the younger daughter of the Royal Family of Russia, who according to rumour was supposed to have escaped when the rest of her family were executed. According to the film the young woman, suffering from amnesia, appears from nowhere and is discovered by three racketeers who fraudulently endeavour to establish her as heiress to the Russian Royal Family's fortune, amounting to some millions deposited in the Bank of England.
Anastasia is played by Ingrid Bergman who received for her performance the award of the New York Film Critics' Circle. I hope she gets an Oscar as well, for she certainly deserves it.
Yul Brynner as leader of the racketeers was excellent, though one was constantly reminded of his performance in "The King and I". The makers of "Anastasia" seem to have read in the fan-magazines that Brynner is the man most women would most like to be tyrannised by. As a result he seemed too domineering, though from the ecstatic giggles with which he was rewarded his interpretation seems to have been appreciated by the females in the audience.
Martita Hunt as Ladys-in-Waiting to the Dowager-Empress gave the only performance that was grossly out of place. As a scatty old rouged-up flooxy she would have been more in place in a Comedy of Manners. Helen Hayes, as the Dowager Empress gave a restrained and effective performance.
The director seems to have devoted most of his attention to the actors, with the result that the camera-work is rarely more than competent, though at no point is it less than competent Some of the opening scenes, in fact, particularly those by the river, were extremely beautiful.
The only serious drawback to the film was the ending, which was decidedly trite. Here, the film departed from the play on which it was based to give us a Happy Hollywood Ending. A great uity in view of the sensitivity which characterized the film as a whole.J.S.